It is easy to forget that “remission” does not mean “cured.” Harrison is not cancer-free yet, but he is one small step closer. Without the ongoing treatment he’s receiving, the leukemia would again ravage his body.
After hearing the news that we would move into the “consolidation” phase of his five-phase, three-year protocol of treatments we were, of course, delighted. When the weekend came around, Harrison was feeling great. Apparently his blood numbers must be high, otherwise he wouldn’t have the energy he’s had. The chemo will knock those numbers down as it kills off both good and bad cells. With leukemia treatment, in order to eradicate the leukemia cells one must also knock off many of the good cells. War is hell, they say, and war with childhood cancer is no different.
Friday night Harrison was determined to go the varsity basketball games (girls and boys) at his school, North Raleigh Christian Academy. We agreed to go for the second half of the girl’s game and the first half of the boy’s. We felt like his energy level indicated decent numbers, at least. I should not have been surprised that Harrison immediately connected with his friends and was nowhere to be seen for either game. Fortunately, Blakely and her friends kept a close eye on him. He had a blast!
Saturday morning he woke up ready for a good day. Lachlan’s baseball team has workouts each week at an indoor facility, and Harrison, like every year previous, thinks he belongs with the varsity players at practice. He’s always been a hit with those guys, even more now. He showed up like usual, baseball equipment in tow, ready for cuts in the batting cage. Although the prednisone has done a real number on his legs, combining with the vincristine to weaken them, he was able to step in and show the older guys how it’s done! He loves the new bat he got for Christmas.
One of Lachlan’s best friends, Jansen Kidd, had his annual “Ice Bowl” birthday party in the afternoon. Jansen, the young man who has offered to have his bone marrow tested in the event a transplant is needed, invited Harrison to come as well. As soon as I left baseball with Harrison, he started pestering me to take him to the party. I felt like he needed some rest, but he insisted.
Harrison jumped right into the middle of the action; he was determined to play some football. While running is basically impossible for his little legs right now, he didn’t let that stop him. Even when he stumbled and fell, he just got up and went back to jogging. He even threw for a touchdown. I told him that was more than his new prayer-partner, Peyton Manning, threw this season. He just laughed and acted as if to say, “That’s how I roll.”
Harrison has always been low-key about his athleticism. When he would complete a pass, run for a touchdown, or make an exceptional play at shortstop, he just acted like it was nothing for him. No need to jump around and draw attention to yourself, just let your playing speak for itself. Made me proud.
On Sunday, we intended to keep Harrison home from worship. I don’t know why, other than keeping him from germs. But he woke up and really wanted to go. Since he felt good, we agreed that he could go with us. We all love worshiping our Triune God with our church. Although I have not been preaching for the past few weeks, we still want, and need, the authentic Christian community that New Covenant Fellowship provides. I don’t know how people that don’t know Christ and his people survive these sorts of crises.
Sunday afternoon was quiet. No football to watch (the Pro Bowl is certainly not football worth watching), so we spent some time reading, playing games, putting together a puzzle, and resting. It was a fitting end to a remarkably busy weekend.
As the week begins, we remember that Harrison is fighting against a life-threatening disease, one which a few weeks ago nearly claimed his life. It is hard to believe that one month ago today the little man had a stroke that caused the ER doctor at WakeMed to give us no hope for his survival. Today should be a good day for Harrison. He’ll do some school work, take a boat-load of pills, and prepare for chemo tomorrow. If all goes as planned, his blood count numbers will begin to drop as the meds continue killing leukemia cells.
In addition to praying for his continued remission, you can also pray for his appointment with the neurologist tomorrow afternoon. Obviously, he’d like to drop some of the anti-seizure medication. But we want to make sure he is improving significantly enough that he will not begin having seizures again. Additionally, and really more importantly, pray that the two blood clots that remain in his brain, which caused the stoke a month ago, would dissolve rapidly and no long present a treat to his life. Harrison has not had any nausea yet, but that could change with the continued escalation of chemo.
Your prayers, cards, emails, and gifts have meant the world to us. If we haven’t expressed our gratitude yet to you personally and individually, please do not interpret that as ingratitude. The outpouring of support has simply overwhelmed us.