Tuesday, January 9, 2007

January 9th - 12th: Chemo Cycle #6 - Scott Lends a Hand (and an Arm)

TUESDAY, JANUARY 09, 2007 08:31 PM, PST

“Ok, so if something bad is going to happen to me, give me at least 2 days advance notice so I can plan my activities” Keith’s admonition to his parents

Parent's Note:

This statement was precipitated by a somewhat frank conversation with Keith discussing what activities would most likely happen in the coming weeks and months. We have been careful to be honest with him yet trying not to overwhelm him with too much information. A one-day-at-a-time approach if you will. I have to admit I laughed out loud upon hearing this gem, but later I was taken with mixed emotions of both sadness and admiration that someone so young should have to think in such terms and yet has the ability to express his feelings so maturely. I guess we will need to shift to a two-day-at-a-time approach from here on.

As advertised, Keith and Josie headed off to Children’s mid-morning and knocked off a string of appointments. The first was with Dr. Sydorak, his abdominal surgeon, who praised Keith’s recovery from his tumor removal as nearly an A+ effort. Later he provided blood samples for genetic testing and had a heart echo scan. For dessert he was admitted to 5 South to begin hydration and his next chemo cycle. Gee, what a fun day. Still all indications were that he was chipper pretty much the whole day.

Scott had a big day as well. I picked him up after school and we drove to Children’s to visit Keith. But before we went upstairs, we checked in at the oncology clinic where Scott bared his arm and provided three vials of blood to be sent along with Keith’s to Stanford to determine if he is a possible bone marrow match. It seems after all of Keith’s stem cell harvest attempts (three), there are just enough cells to perform a single transplant, but no back-up supply in case a second rescue procedure is needed. Interestingly there is only a 25% chance that the two are a genetic match. Apparently for parents and relatives the percentages plummet to very small numbers. It would be wonderful to have the safety net of a match, but we aren’t counting on it.

In our house, Scott has earned an honor bead for offering himself, literally, in any way he can to help his brother.


Parent’s Note:

Keith spent a relatively quiet day in his hospital room except for one excursion across the street to have another audiology test performed. One of the possible side effects of his aggressive chemo regimen is that it can lead to hearing loss, hence the frequent testing. So far he still seems to be hearing just fine (….ok, my take is that not having a thick matt of hair covering his ears probably doesn’t hurt either).

Around mid-day he returned to his room, the IV tubing was rigged up and the three-day chemo drip commenced. The only other event of note actually just occurred as I was writing this entry. Keith was a not-too-happy recipient of a finger prick glucose test. Seems he had been consuming mostly sugary foods all day and the doctors busted him. The decree went out - no more pop tarts for the rest of the night.

Fortunately his finger is not seriously disabled, allowing him to resume his laptop gaming with unfettered gusto....

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007 11:07 PM, PST

Parent’s Note:

Keith is about half way through the last of his six conditioning cycles of chemotherapy now. This is a repeat of the Cytoxin / Doxorubicin / Vincristine combo that he has received three times before and he has been tolerating it so far.

These are always hard days. Hard because the chemo and antiemetics take their toll on Keith’s energy and mood, hard because family is separated and hard because, let’s face it, the hospital just isn’t a fun place to be despite the best efforts of the medical staff. He was feeling a bit melancholy today, not able to see Scott and of course he misses Kirby and his friends.

We have known from day one that there is no easy course to a cure and we are ready to endure whatever our doctors recommend as the best path to beat back this terrible disease. Still, after all that Keith has been through so far, indications are that the most challenging days probably lie ahead of us. So as that time nears, we find ourselves torn with emotion yet grateful for all of the support we have been given and thankful that research and advances in medicine have allowed us the opportunity to step forward with hope and firm optimism.

He should finish up this cycle mid-day on Saturday so with a home hydration set-up and any luck Keith will be back to Kirbyville 94563 that same evening.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2007 09:44 PM, PST

Parent’s Note:

The highlight of the day for Keith was having Scott visit after school. Keith was a bit tired from the medication but enjoyed watching his brother play WoW. I’ve posted a couple of photos to the album from today.

About 14 hours left of induction as this entry is written and the plan is still holding for a Saturday escape. Keith gets a bit ornery when the nurses give him his Benadryl / Reglin combo because it knocks him out right away and he’s asleep for hours. He was particularly unhappy to hear that the afternoon dose was going to be administered just before Scott was due to arrive at the hospital, so we talked the doctor into giving it to him early. Keith got his Benadryl ‘nap’ in before Scott arrived so disaster averted. The anti-nausea drugs are doing their job so far, so no complaints from me.

The pink bucket is nowhere to be seen.

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