It has been some time since posting here, primarily because caring for a cancer kid is exhausting. While the past few weeks have been somewhat uneventful, daily life with a child fighting cancer requires physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength that simply isn’t always readily available. Every time I have sat in front of the computer to write, I’ve just not had the ability to do so.
Where are we? Here’s a quick synopsis:
We are in the midst of a phase called Interim Maintenance. After Induction (to induce remission) and Consolidation (to kills off any remaining leukemia cells), this phase is supposed to be easier. We’ll see. The biggest problem most kids encounter in this phase of treatment is the rise of mouth sores. Not every child develops these painful sores, but many do.
The protocol calls for five treatments of Vincristine and Metholtrexate. Harrison has had both of these drugs before. The Vincristine (derived from periwinkle, of all places) can cause neuropathy in the extremities, but we’ve not seen that before with Harrison. Unfortunately, the worse side effect is joint pain, which does affect Harrison each time. He feels the pain worst in his knees. Usually a little ice helps him get through the three or four days of pain.
The best part of this phase (which is intended to “maintain” remission) is that Harrison is on a ten-day schedule rather than a seven-day schedule. Tomorrow is his second treatment out of five.
We also now have an end-of-treatment date: April 6, 2015. That’s right, three years from the beginning of Interim Maintenance he’ll be “Off Treatment,” provided there is no relapse. Hard to believe Harrison will be in the seventh grade before he is through with chemo. It is almost too much to comprehend.
We continue to be grateful for Harrison’s good health. He developed a fever on Easter Sunday which required a hospitalization (like every fever he gets for the next three years), but fortunately there was no infection.
Baseball begins for Harrison on Wednesday. He’s excited but also apprehensive. Some of the kids from his team have been meeting for practices, and he’s gone to a few. It’s obvious to him how much strength and coordination he has lost, particularly in his legs. He’s gone from a kid who was a vacuum at short stop covering ground from the hole to the middle to a kid with almost no range. He’s been really frustrated his his inability to run well or to hit hard. But I’ve been proud of him for wanting to keep fighting. He’s just not one to give up easily.
As you pray for Harrison, please remember his mental and emotional states. The strong drugs he gets have an obvious effect on his mental development. We’re praying for limited damage. Emotionally, he’s had a few bad weeks (contributing to my inability to write). He just wants to be “normal.” During spring break all his friends went on trips, but we couldn’t go anywhere. His brother and sister did their best to encourage him, and not blame him that they had to stay home as well, but he’s fed up with medicine, hospitalizations, chemo, and getting a needle stuck in his chest every time he goes to clinic or the the ER. I can’t blame him.
Last week I was asked to speak to the ten high school baseball teams playing in the Bobby Murray Invitational Tournament at USA Baseball in Cary. Bobby Murray wanted me to share the Gospel. It was an honor, and another opportunity to honor Christ through our family’s suffering. Harrison does not want this disease, but now that he has it, he wants to see his suffering lead to the progress of the Gospel. Sharing with those hundred-plus kids and coaches, I pray, will do just that. Please pray to that end.
On Good Friday, after Harrison’s last treatment, we made a trip up to 5C (the fifth floor of the Children’s hospital, where cancer kids are treated). Harrison likes to go see the nurses who have cared for him so well in this. He and Blakely wanted to go encourage one kid in particular: Bryce Washington.
Bryce is a ten-year old little boy who had been diagnosed with leukemia two days before. Ironically, Bryce’s cousin used to go to school with Lachlan, and played football for several years with him. His parents have been praying for Harrison and following his story. Never did their think they would have their own struggle with this dreaded disease. On Facebook, you can visit Bryce Washington Blasting Leukemia to follow their fight.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. Your prayers and kindness are almost overwhelming.