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    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    The Last Dying Gasps of Cancer

    As many of you may know, my oldest son, Cole, was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), a type of cancer, on November 14, 2007, just days after his second birthday.  It has been a long, trying road to see him through his treatment.  Much of the first year or so is covered extensively in this blog, and I invite you to peruse the archives going back to November of 2007.  But there is wonderful news to report.

    On January 17, 2011, Cole took his last dose of chemo.  It was a monumental event, one that we had planned on celebrating with a small party of close friends who have been with us on this journey.  But, alas, the party was not meant to be, at least not yet.

    Cancer had one last, desperate attempt to rope us back into the land worry and concern that pervades any experience with cancer.  One last dying gasp, if you will.

    Our family had been sick for about a week, with each of us but Cole having a moderate cold.  The two younger kids ran fevers and felt miserable, but as he has been wont to do during his whole treatment, Cole seemed to be riding it out unscathed.

    Then, the Saturday before the 17th, just two days before Cole was done with chemo, it happened, he ran a fever.  In peds cancer-land, if you have a fever, you earn a trip straight to the hospital.  If you're lucky, it's on a weekday, during business hours, so you get to go hang out at clinic.  If not (and we never were lucky) you get to go sit in the ER for hours on end.

    So, Dalynn and I accessed Cole, he and I packed a bag, and off to the ER we went!

    Now, Cole and I are old pros at handling these visits.  You get to be that way after 3+ years.  So, we came prepared with iPhone and lots of games.  We got ushered back to a room quickly, got our stuff down, then turned on the TV and BOOM!  Star Wars: A New Hope was on!  (Epic, truly epic...)

    The doctors and nurses came and went, there were x-rays taken, and then there was some distressing issues with his line.  We had to de-access and re-access his port (which he hates) but things got cleared up.  Since Cole wasn't running any more fevers, after about 5 hours and 4 new iPhone apps we got to go home.

    A call came in the next day, Sunday, in the early afternoon:  Cole has a slight touch of pneumonia, take an anti-biotic.  No big deal.

    Then, a couple hours later, we got the dreaded second call from CHKD:  His lab cultures grew something, come back in.

    Bah, a second trip to the ER!  Now we're just one day from end of chemo.

    So, Cole and I grab the bag we had packed and off we go.

    This time, I was fairly certain that we'd be admitted and staying for a few days.  Much to my surprise, we were let out a mere 4 hours later, no fevers, repeat labs, everything looked fine.

    Monday, the 17th, we went to follow up with clinic and also have a GI consult.  They had spotted elevated liver enzymes and Cole's liver was enlarged.  Thus began our (hopefully) last medical mystery in cancer-land.

    There was a lot of worrying and concern, I have to say, and Cole went the following Friday for an ultra-sound and a doppler of his liver, but I'm happy to report that the liver concerns were most likely the result of some virus, and his levels have normalized.  I thought especially of our friends the Lemn's who have endured a liver transplant for their young daughter.

    These things have a way of making you feel grateful for what you do have, especially when confronted with what you might lose or don't know.  While it was a bit of a rude awakening and it really reminded us of darker days, back when Cole was so sick, it's almost refreshing.  This is something we won't have to live with much longer.

    At the end of February/beginning of March, Cole will be completely done with both chemo and anti-fungals.  His port will come out and we'll be ushered from the world of "my son has cancer" to the world of "my son had cancer".  What a glorious thing.

    6 comments:

    c said...

    Michael --- I cant imagine what you and your family have been through. I read this through tears. Cole has been on our prayer list since Josh Nelson told me about Cole's diagnosis. Keep us updated! Still praying...

    Cathy

    Langston-Family said...

    ROCK ON COLE!!! We love you guys and so happy to see that you have summitted a mountain among the highest in the world. CONGRATULATIONS!

    Faith said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Shaun said...

    Michael, thanks for always sharing your lives with us. I have been watching your trip and thankful for your openness what lets me be part of your life. We pray for Cole and your family and I am so glad you can see the end!

    Shaun said...

    Michael, thanks for always sharing your lives with us. I have been watching your trip and thankful for your openness what lets me be part of your life. We pray for Cole and your family and I am so glad you can see the end!

    c said...

    Michael --- I cant imagine what you and your family have been through. I read this through tears. Cole has been on our prayer list since Josh Nelson told me about Cole's diagnosis. Keep us updated! Still praying...

    Cathy