CANCER: One of the words no parent ever wants to hear from their child’s doctor.
Well, we heard it today. Our baby, Serenity, who is 22 months old (she’ll be 2 in July) probably has Leukemia – and if it’s not Leukemia the doctors say it is something just as bad, if not worse. The last 12 hours have been an intense and crazy whirlwind of events, emotion and travel. Here’s the story:
The background: About 3 weeks ago, we noticed that Serenity was covered with bruises. They were all up and down her spine and her legs were covered with them. It looked like someone had jabbed her with a stick, really hard and over and over. Needless to say, we were concerned and we were very upset as we believed at first that one of our 7 other children (we have 8 kids) had done something to her. They all vehemently denied doing anything and that night as I was changing her diaper and holding her legs, I noticed that my fingers were covering many of the bruises on her legs. Further examination showed that most of her bruises mapped to finger placement when holding her. We realized that Serenity bruised very easily, this was the first time this had happened. We watched closely to see if new bruises showed up, none did. In fact, the bruises she had cleared up over the next week. We decided it might be a fluke and have kept careful watch, no new bruises have shown up.
This past Sunday she came down with a fever and a slight cough. While we were at my Mother’s on Sunday, several people (including us) noticed that she looked pretty pale. We chalked it up to her fever and being sick. Monday she wasn’t much better, her fever hit around 103 but once we gave her Motrin it went down. Over the next two days we were able to control her fever with Motrin but on Tuesday night we started talking about taking her to the doctor. Wednesday morning she seemed like she was doing better – and we called off the visit to the doctor. By Wednesday evening she was having it a bit rough again and the discussion of the previous day was repeated – as was seeming a bit better on Thursday morning. So on Thursday, we put off going to the doctor again. Thursday night was rough and Friday morning (this morning) she wasn’t any better, in fact she seemed worse. We noticed marks showing up on her face – they weren’t bruises but were rather strange. We called the doctor and got an appointment for 11:20.
11:20 – We go to the doctor’s office and they check her out. After discussing the bruising and looking at the new marks, the doctor orders a CBP – Complete Blood Panel. He gives us a prescription for anit-biotics because he finds she also has an ear infection. He then tells us that one of the things he wants to rule out with the CBP is Leukemia, things become worrisome.
~12:15 – We go to the blood lab at American Fork Hospital and have blood drawn, this doesn’t take long and we head home to Mapleton.
~1:20 – We’re between the Center St and University Ave exits on southbound I-15 and the doctor calls. She says that she has half the blood work back and it is EXTREMELY abnormal. We need to immediately turn around, bring Serenity back and have her admitted to the ER.
~1:40 – We’re back at the ER and the doc has already admitted her. They start explaining what’s going on. Her blood is BAD. Her platellete count should be 200, it’s 5. Her white blood cells are made up of all the wrong things, her red blood count is really low. They tell us they are going to medi-vac her to Primary Childrens Hospital in Salt Lake via ambulance and they will be monitoring her vitals, if the drop they will call in a helicopter.
~1:42 – I’m scared to death and freaking out, so’s my wife. The Doctors tell us that if we had waited through the weekend, she probably would have been near death.
~2:00 – Serenity is loaded into the ambulance, in her car seat which they have strapped to a stretcher. They will only allow one person to go and they have to sit in the front. Adria rides with them. I’m told to go home and pack bags for Adria and I – for 3 to 5 days. I also need to get the kids farmed out.
~2:15 – My Mom is coming over, so’s my sister. I’ve talked on the phone to several family members and they’re springing into action. I’m totally losing my composure by now. My Mom shows up with my sister and they start confusing me with a simple discussion of what to do with my kids. I tell my sister to please deal with it, I’m going home to pack.
3:30 – I’m home, I explain to the other kids what is going on. I tell the 3 older kids about the possibility of Leukemia. Adria’s sister shows up to take the kids to their farmout assignments and leaves. I get packed and head to the hospital.
6:00 – I get a phone call that the Cancer ward at Primary Childrens has said that there is a 90% chance it’s Leukemia. They’re planning several tests and they have to give her all new blood.
7:30 – I get to the hospital.
Since then, they’ve given her a bag of platelletes, a bag of new blood (it’s almost finished) and broad spectrum antibiotics and something to keep Leukemia blood from destroying her kidneys. We’ve pretty much accepted that it is Leukemia. We’ve cried a lot and learned a lot. There are 2 main types, one has an 80% recovery rate, the other is much lower. We’re hoping for the one with 80% recovery. They rattled off a list of what it could be if it’s not Leukemia. I don’t remember any of them but they sound nasty.
Tomorrow morning they are going to do several tests that they can’t do tonight. Depending on the results of those, she’ll have to have a bone marrow biopsy tomorrow night for which they’ll give her general anesthesia. By tomorrow night we should know for sure whether she has Leukemia and if she does, what strain it is. Once they know, they can start treatment. Treatment (as most people know) is going to be ugly. It’s going to be a rough weekend.
I Twittered most of what went on today. There was a huge outpouring of support, committment to pray, and love. I saw them coming in but didn’t have time to read them all until just recently. After the events of the day, it was really nice to sit down and read through all the well-wishes. Thank you to all of you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve also received several emails of support, some from people I don’t even know but who know what we’re going through. Thanks to them as well, I’ll try to respond to all those in the next day or two.
The staff here at Primary Children’s has been great! They’ve been extremely helpful and accomidating. It’s been an exhausting day and I’m sure it will just continue through the weekend. I’ll be blogging more as things develop. Thanks again to everyone who has offered support and expressed concern. We truly appreciate it.
I’ve been and will continue to post pictures to my flickr stream – you can see it here.
UPDATE: Day 2 is posted here