Monday, April 30, 2012

Leukemia - On Our Minds Today!

So we finally had the "moment".  The one I knew we would have...eventually.  I just didn't realize how comfortable I had got until it happened.  So you're not panicking, Sammy is okay.  I am a little shaken and firing on major adrenaline with a massive dose of the 'oh craps' thrown in. Here is why:

About three days ago, Sammy came to me with pain in his neck.  It was the side his port had been on, so I figured he may have some aches at times or he was sore from all the playing he has been doing lately.  As I felt his neck, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end..Sammy had lumps down both sides of his neck.

I had watched Sammy's neck develop swollen glads three years ago and, being completely ignorant of the signs and symptoms of leukemia, I did not rush off to the doctor.  We all know how that turned out.  This time, I still did nothing.  I observed Sammy and decided to wait it out a little as there is a lot of yucky sickness going around.

Today, however, I couldn't ignore my nagging feeling and I asked the school nurse to check Sam out.  She felt that his glands warranted a trip to the pediatrician.  Now, most teachers would call, make an appointment, and keep teaching.  Thankfully most teachers have not had a child with leukemia.  When a nurse says go, I go!  It was lunchtime and I got an appointment immediately (a perk of being a survivor) and my Principal wonderfully agreed to get my class covered so I could get back home to numb Sammy's finger ready for the blood draw.

I think a lot when I drive.  This drive shook me up bad!  I relived the panic and fear just after diagnosis.  I tried to push away dark thoughts about bone marrow transplants, radiation and more bloody steroids.  Leukemia is harder to get rid of the second time around.  Fear is a powerful emotion.

One of the toughest things to do is pretend all is well when you are crying inside.  Moms have perfected this art when it really counts.  I had to really conjure up my 'inner mom' and chat with the kids and pretend all was routine....Sammy still considers random blood draws routine.

The bottom line, after a very long doctors visit and through work-up: Sammy may have a virus as his counts are a little off but nothing to make one scream off into the sunset with manic desperation.  The doctor did measure Sammy's lumps, and we have to go back in two weeks to see if they have changed in any way.

The next two weeks are going to be very long.  It is Sammy's birthday on Thursday and we have his party on Saturday.  All has to be fine and jolly.  I reckon I can keep a stiff upper lip and keep myself almost rational about all of this.

Sammy looks and acts well.  He has no other signs of relapse.  He recently saw his doctors at CHAM and he was 'all clear' then.  I have to hang on to this.  I WILL hang on to it.  Sammy gives me strength so I am in good hands.  I'll keep you all informed.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Immunization Schedule - Again!

Sammy had the first of his immunizations last Thursday.  He has to have everything again and the immunization schedule is quite aggressive.  The poor guy had to have three...ouch!   I have to say I put up a fight.  I will immunize my kids as the alternative (getting the diseases) is worse, but I strongly hold out against bombarding children with multiple shots.  On top of that, one of the shots was the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) that has caused the uproar about its possible connection to autism.

I was not gentle with Brian whose turn it was to go to the clinic.  I was strongly voicing my objections down the phone at him but the outcome stayed the same.  The CHAM doctors feel that, because Sammy has absolutely no protection from any of the diseases, it is better to do as many as they can, especially as he is in school.  I get it, I really do...but I don't have to like it!

Sammy was not a happy bunny either.  He was brave (isn't he always) and took the shots well.  But the muscles were very sore afterwards and that is when he fussed the most.  He did go straight to school afterwards, and played well at recess.  I tried not to be a helicopter mom and stayed away, just checking in with Mrs. F, his teacher, now and again.

Each visit will entail an average of three shots for the next 5 months.  This stinks as, once again, Sammy has to be subjected to needles.  He was most disgruntled that he couldn't have the shots into the vein or into his port!  My how far we have come!  Here is a seven year old preferring IV's and 'hooked' needles jabbing his chest!  Chemo kids are TOUGH!!!

Good news on the blood-work...all is as it should be.  We are not looking at relapse so I cannot complain.

We learned of a new SuperKid at Cham, one connected to us through the families at our school.  SuperSophia is battling a brain tumor.  She has had the Superman Sammy t.shirt redone in pink and purple - the Dora colors, and now CHAM 9 has a new t.shirt to rock!  Please send Sophia all your love and prayers.  She has just turned 4 and is a beautiful princess with the bravery of a lion!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Sammy with his crab at the school puppet show

Things are looking up! Sammy has realized he is improving, and the effects of chemo are not getting the better of him.  Yesterday, while we snuggled in bed, Sammy began talking about Easter and all the fun things he is looking forward to.  He hopes the Easter bunny will be kind to him even though he is getting older.  Then, out of nowhere, he suddenly remarks,

"Oh my!  This will be my first easter off yucky feeling or medicine.  Oh I'm so happy!  I can have Easter without cancer!"  

Sam is so glad to be done and I'm really happy he is enjoying this time....he deserves to!  He also noticed something about his appearance as he was getting ready for school.  He came running out of the  bathroom and shouted,

"My head has shrunk!  I have a really small head!  Is it possible that I have a shrunken head?"  

The concerns were so genuine, I had to contain my laughter.  You see, Sammy had noticed what I had seen for a while; the moon-face created by the steroids has completely vanished.  Sammy's hair is also long and soft again.  The old Sam is back, and there is no trace on his face of past battles.

Mr. Moon-Face - the chemo changes Sammy's features dramatically


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