Cancer treatment is quite different from other medical treatments in one major way: the chemo indiscriminately kills the good and the bad. In essence, a cancer cell is a cell that turns off the natural mechanism by which a cell dies. In the wonder of God’s design, cells all die. Good cells — whether skin, heart, blood, etc. — all die and are replaced by good cells. When there is a curation in the process of cell division, those cells die so as not to harm the body. But sometimes those corrupted cells lose that cell-death mechanism. When that happens, you get cancer.
So what chemo does, among other things, is kills all rapidly growing cells, like hair. The drugs can’t differentiate a leukemia cell from a normal cell so it just kills all of them. Doctors prescribe doses that kill most of the blood cells. Then, once the body has replaced the good cells, the chemo is administered again. Hopefully, after three years, all of the bad cells that refused to die on their own even get wiped out. When at least one survives, you get a relapse.
While current research is looking at to target just cancer cells, that’s the cutting edge of treatments. We long for the day when targeted therapy ends to need for the current barbaric treatments.
To determine how effective the chemo is at killing the cells, the docs check blood counts every week. Here are Harrison’s complete blood counts (CBC) from the past four weeks to show you how his chemo is working. You can see that with the chemo break between the second and third weeks his numbs rebounded. The doctors expect these numbs to drop precipitously over the next two weeks.
White blood cells 8400, 2800, 3700, 1700
Hemoglobin. 11.7, 12.2, 11.7, 9.8
Lymphocytes. 1300, 2000, 2500, 600
Neutrophils (ANC). 5700, 300, 1000, 900
Platelets. 357, 194, 260, 135
These are really good numbers.
Please continue to pray for Harrison and all these kids fighting for their lives.