I started writing this journal entry some weeks ago. Often things seem unpolished and unfit to share with the world and sometimes I just wish I had kept my own personal journal that wasn’t on public display. Nonetheless, I decided I might as well share it today since today marks our “3 year anniversary” of knowing the giant Andy was facing. March 31, 2012 seems so long ago, but it was the day we found out he had T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I remember being a bit relieved that day to know there was an actual diagnosis so we could get on with his treatment. Life has changed so much since then that it’s hard to remember life before Andy’s cancer, tho I do remember snippets. I long to get to the point where I hardly remember life with cancer. Where we are so far past the “cancer treatment days” that I have to reread my journal entries as a reminder. Somehow I doubt that I will actually ever be the case tho. These hard days seem etched into my brain and my heart.
There really hasn’t been much worthy of writing about. Of course, to me, it’s all worthy since what goes on in my life revolves around my beautiful family, but to others, it’s just the mundane of someone else’s life. Maybe I should be writing about it because my kids might care what when on in March 2015, unlikely, but possible.
In all honesty, it’s really been pretty uneventful. Andy has had three hospital chemo visits since I last wrote and all went as expected. I pray they will always go as expected as my heart has been getting weary lately. It’s just been a really long time and I’m getting worn out of preserving. Treating cancer isn’t for the faint at heart. We really are so blessed that Andy continues to thrive on his treatment plan, but I’m just keeping it real because it gets awfully tiresome at times. I do think I finally hit the nail on the head recently. I liken Andy’s cancer treatment to pregnancy. Most know pregnancy is approximately 40 weeks in length and I think most women get to the “4 weeks left” mark and are just so ready to have that baby. For me it was an awkward time with my belly sticking way out and just being exhausted carrying around the extra weight. I was also very excited to hold that precious child of mine in my arms. Well Andy’s cancer treatment is 40 months and 10 days to be exact. We are right at the “4 months left” mark and I’ve had it. I’m ready for his pill box to be off my kitchen counter and to do “real life” again. Eat a snack past 7pm, not worry that his ANC is too low to go places and that he might get sick, go somewhere on Wednesday since we’re not waiting on his weekly Walgreens delivery for his daily heparin injections. I’ve been reminding myself a lot lately of Psalm 118:24, it reads “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Working to rejoice in every single day even when I feel weary.
Andy’s first appointment was on January 20th and it was sedation for a spinal tap of Methotrexate. It went well and I fully rejoiced that he only has two of those sedations left! Praise the Lord because that is another thing that makes me weary. I hate for him to be sedated. Even tho he’s in good hands and he’s received the finest of care, there is still something that makes me uneasy about him being sedated. He also got his usual IV chemo of Vincristine. His counts were recovering nicely after his hospital stay earlier that month. His ANC was up to 1070, his hemoglobin was up to 11.8 (normal range!), and he weighed in at 81 lbs. His medicine stayed the same from his restart the week prior which was at the 50% dosing. This was 5 Methotrexate tabs per week and 1 tab of 6MP for six days and ½ tab for one day each week. He continues to take 50 mg of Prednisone per day for the first five days of each cycle. Then his labs were checked two weeks later on February 3rd which revealed his ANC was up to 1080, so his dosing was bumped up a little more to 7 ½ tabs of Methotrexate each week and the 6MP was kept the same.
His next chemo appointment was on February 17th and this was just an office visit for IV Vincristine. At this appointment, his ANC had skyrocketed to 4080. It wasn’t shocking because of his reduced dose of chemo and the protocol to make sure his body has time to rebuild and not tank out right away, so the dosing is gradually increased. Obviously his doctor saw reason to increase with his ANC rebounding so well, so she left his Methotrexate at 7 ½ tabs each week and bumped up the 6MP to 1 ½ tabs five days per week and 1 tab two days per week. His hemoglobin was still in the “normal” range, so that was another encouragement that his bone marrow is still working well when it’s not totally suppressed with medicines. He also continued with the 50 mg of Prednisone for the first five days of the cycle. Otherwise it was pretty uneventful and he keeps holding steady in his weight in the low 80’s – this time he was 83 ½ lbs. He had his labs rechecked on March 3 and his ANC was 1850 with his hemoglobin and platelets still looking wonderful, but his doctor opted to wait to increase his medicine at his next chemo appointment in March on St. Paddy’s Day.
If it’s not one thing it’s another with our dear Andy Boy. The day following his blood draw he spiked a fever in the evening, so we trekked to the ER for IV antibiotics and to check his ANC. Thankfully it was still good, even tho he had a fever of nearly 104. I knew he had the same virus as Jack had just gotten over, but it’s the protocol to get all those medicines onboard to make sure there isn’t a different underlying infection. So thankfully we didn’t have a sleepover, even tho I packed for one. It’s just unpredictable what those labs will say.
Andy’s most recent hospital chemo appointment was on March 17th. This too was another office quickie (tho it’s not really that quick, but much quicker than the sedated ones – about 2 hours). Again we praised the Lord that his labs looked nice. His ANC was 1730 and his hemoglobin and platelets continued to be in the normal range. Both of his liver function labs looked high again, but the doctor said they were fine and to be expected. I suppose the increase in his medicine is taxing on the liver. He weighed in at 80 lbs on this day. His doctor increased his Methotrexate to 10 tabs each week, but kept the 6MP at 75% which is 1 ½ tabs five days per week and 1 tab two days per week. It will likely increase in April to get it up to 100%. His monthly steroid pulse of Prednisone is still at 50 mg for five days. And thankfully this month was the first month in a long time that he didn’t have any side effects coming off it. In January he had a backache that lasted two days and then in February he had a migraine. I know they are an essential part of his treatment, but it’s just difficult to give him a medicine that I know will bring him agony when comes off of it. Only four more treatments tho, we can do it!
Thank you for praying for Andy when he comes to your mind. I often feel like we’re forgotten about, but know we have faithful prayer warriors and we are so thankful for them. I know he’s been sick a long time, believe me it feels like we’ve been at this for an eternity. Thankfully he looks like your typical 10 year old boy, but since there is no outward reminder that he is still in this battle, people genuinely forget and seem surprised that he’s still in treatment. It’s a long road, but one I pray is worthy of walking. I trust God has brought us through this so that he can get the glory for what Andy and our family have gone through. He will never leave or forsake us and I need to stand on that promise.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9