Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Slowly and quickly.

Each day seems to drag on as we wait for Mom's cytogenetic test results.  They determine how the doctors rate prognosis, which seems awfully callous.  If we didn't know about chromosomal abnormalities pointing towards poor outcome, would we view the cancer any differently?  Is it just for the insurance companies so they know what to allow for treatment and what to deny?  Is it to give us a realistic notion of Mom's chances or is it only to help target treatment?  As Tina keeps saying, Mom isn't a statistic, and she's doing very well so far, so maybe the cytology will have little impact on her actual outcome, but what does knowing you have a genetic tendency that makes your cancer less responsive to treatment do to your morale, which is a key factor in treatment success and recovery?  

1 in 10 to 20 adults with ALL have a chromosomal abnormality called Ph1 that can indicated a poor response to chemo.  If Mom has Ph1, then she may not qualify for a marrow transplant, which is usually the best bet for remission.  I feel tense and angry that the test is taking as long as it is to be completed, as it seems to be all we can think about.  However, Rigoletto is next month, and that's seeming to approach all too rapidly, as I'm not memorized yet.  Thank God I'm only in three scenes, although even they seem impossibly dense right now.  Frigging Verdi.  It couldn't have been Handel, could it?  

So, we wait and play with the babies and chew our nails and cook meals and do laundry and edge lawns (Marianne, you tireless badass) and go to sleep each night wondering what news we'll wake to in the morning.  Every night we just pray for the best and cry a little as we wonder if it will be the worst.  

Friday, June 19, 2009

A bit of good news.

The cancer is not in Mom's spine.  She started chemo today and it was a bit rough, but she's been feeling fine since it ended.  I'll be Twittering updates as well as posting them to Mom's Caring Bridge website, https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/judyblewett.  

Last night, Kyan, my godson and second oldest nephew, was lying in Mom and Dad's bed watching Snow White.  Mark asked him if he liked doing so and he said, "Yes, when I'm here I feel like she's with me."  Sniff.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Every worst case scenario.

Mom does not have the type of leukemia we were hoping for.  She has ALL, the most common type of childhood leukemia, but a rarer type for adults, and one that is harder to treat.  Mom had to have a lumbar puncture to determine if there are cancer cells in the central nervous system.  When the puncture was performed, chemo drugs were injected into the spinal cord, just in case.  She will begin chemo on Friday, which will initially take a month, and then she'll have maintenance chemo and then stem cell transplants in Seattle.  And she will not rent an apartment to save me bother, despite her protestations.  

This is going to be a long, sucky road.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why can't the good be left alone?

Why must there always be bad to temper the good?   I hate having my pessimism validated.  You all know the good, here's the shit stack:  Mom has leukemia.  

I cannot even write it without wanting to throw up.  She was admitted to the hospital Monday as she had gone to the doctor to have her lightheadedness, shortness of breath and fatigue analyzed, and her hemoglobin was so low that they admitted her for a transfusion.  She had her marrow biopsied today, so we'll know the type tomorrow, and the DNA typing will be done next week.  She'll come home for two days starting tomorrow afternoon, and then will be in the hospital for a month for chemo.

This is a woman who has eaten a healthier diet than an army of vegan hippies, who takes vitamins of varying degrees of strangeness, who works out, who does everything right, and this still happened.  She is the epicenter of the universe to the grandkids, and they won't be able to see her for four weeks.  There is no shit like cancer shit.    

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Follow Up

When an infant has a UTI, there's a concern that an abnormality of the kidneys, urethra or ureter could be causing reflux of urine, leading to repeat infections.  When Viv was diagnosed with the UTI last week, the pediatrician at Children's and our own pediatrician both recommended an ultrasound and voiding cystourethrogram to evaluate the health of Viv's kidneys, bladder and involved anatomy.  So, yesterday, we took her back to Children's to have both done.  I am again grateful that we are lucky enough to live in Seattle.  Children's staff members all seem to have excellent senses of humor.

The ultrasound was easy, Viv was perfect and laid still with nary a fuss for the 10 minutes it took to capture pictures of her TEENY TINY ORGANS.  We saw her wee little uterus, which was a little odd.  I felt like I was invading her privacy.  Christian thought her kidneys looked like a baboon's face.  The ultrasound technician had never heard that one before.  No, literally.  She guessed that Christian was an artist, as she said that artists and engineers always see bizarre images in the ultrasound.

The VC was less pleasant.  Viv had to be catheterized, have dye injected via the cath into her bladder and then be x-rayed voiding.  She was incredibly calm, though, and didn't flinch or fuss when the nurse inserted the cath, which was remarkable.  The nurses were impressed that we had thought to bring Viv's favorite toys, as, apparently, most parents don't think of it.  Oh, and everyone said she was just beautiful and called in other staff and faculty to see her.  She's the prettiest baby ever.

Anyway, both tests showed that everything was functioning normally, and that she doesn't need to be on prophylactic antibiotics, thankfully.  We're relieved, for us and for her.