Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moving Forward

Jackson is moving forward and making progress which is exciting and wonderful!

The biggest thing that I am so happy to report is that we are all home under the same roof. We have been home for almost a month now, and I can't believe how fast time flies! Jackson did have to have an overnight stay at the hospital last week because he got a bag of platelets that were contaminated and had bacteria in them. So, as a precaution, the doctors wanted to watch him overnight just to make sure he'd be fine. He got several doses of IV antibiotics, but they sent him home the next day. Other than that little bump in the road, Jackson seems to be doing amazing.

At our last clinic visit I talked to the nutritionist about Jackson. I talk to her every week and I genuinely enjoy the time I get to spend with her. Last week she started Jackson on an appetite stimulant. We were hoping that he would start to eat, and then we could get him off of the TPN (IV Nutrition) that he has been on since the beginning of November. TPN is a good thing if your body is unable to eat, but Jackson should be able to eat, and eating is essentially better for your body. The good news is that the appetite stimulant is working! He is now eating, which is such a relief. He has eaten more this week than he has in the last 4 months combined. One day he ate an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and yesterday he ate almost an entire can of chili. I think part of his eating can be credited to the appetite stimulant, and part of his motivation to eat comes from avoiding another NG tube. They told me that if he doesn't eat this week that they will put an NG tube back in- which was such an ordeal for Jackson and for me. I am glad he is eating now, what a relief!

Other exciting news is that Jackson's Wish from Make-A-Wish is getting closer to being granted. Right now we are scheduled for the big reveal in the middle of March. I'll post more info when it gets closer, because you are all invited to join us!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Remember us?

I feel like we've been on the cancer road for so long. Seriously, it is pretty normal now, and I'm afraid to say that we've adjusted to our 'new life'.

Things are a new normal now. We go to weekly clinic visits to check Jackson's blood levels. Usually Jackson gets a platelet transfusion each week, and we are at the hospital for only about 3 hours once a week. Brian has returned back to his job full time, which is such a blessing. Brian came home from work a few weeks ago and had a funny story to share with me. He said that a guy asked him for help, and Brian mentioned that he had an altered work schedule. The guy asked why, and Brian replied that Jackson was in the hospital. The guy replied "You're still dealing with that?"

Yup, we are still dealing with that.

Remember us? The people that had a kid with cancer? Yup, we're still the people with the kid that has cancer. I feel like we've been on this cancer road for so long that people have forgotten that we are on a different road than the rest of the world.

Things have changed for us, and for our family. I know that I will never be the same. I have changed in so many ways, some happy and some sad. I've experienced things that I never wanted to or expected to experience. Brian and I have had to make hard decisions regarding Jackson's health, and it has been a very rough year.

I want to share a story here about something that Brian and I had a good laugh about. Some of you may not think it's funny, but take it for what it's worth.

I am pretty sure we will never eat at a buffet again. Jackson is currently on a low microbial diet. Basically he can not eat anything that may contain bacteria that could cause him to get sick. So, no restaurants, no fast food, no fountain drinks, no fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. Because of this we haven't eaten out for quite some time- he has been on this diet since his first bone marrow transplant, and will remain on the diet until at least the end of April. Brian and I went out for Brian's birthday dinner in January, and we chose to eat at one of Brian's favorite place Tucanos. Brian refers to Tucanos as "Meat Fest" because they bring big slabs of meat around to each table and slice you off a nice hunk of meat. It's all you can eat, and included in your meal is all you can eat access to an amazing salad bar. As we were at the restaurant, I told Brian that being a Bone Marrow Mama, I didn't know if I could eat there. We had an entire conversation over dinner about how we are so much more aware of germs now. I had Brian laughing when I explained that: "Those waiters, walk through a ginormous crowd carrying our food. Then the come to our table and slice it and we eat it. Not only that, but the salad bar!" I exclaimed. "Every one touches the same serving spoon, then they go back to their tables, and don't even sanitize their hands before they start eating!". Brian and I laughed about contaminated food, and how we shouldn't be eating there at all. Now, I am not saying that Tucanos is in any way a dirty, or nasty restaurant, but I laugh at our heightened awareness of germs. Seriously- if you have a normal immune system, having your meat carried through a crowd of people shouldn't be that big of a deal. But being a crazy Bone Marrow Mama, I freaked at what might have gotten on our food before it got to us.

So, to answer your question. Yes, we are still here. We are still on the "cancer path" and although we are through some of the more rough spots, we still have a LONG way to go. Jackson doesn't get any more official scans (MRI or CAT scan) until April. At that time we will see how his tumor responded to treatment. To be honest, I thought that when Jackson finished chemo that we'd be done with the world of childhood cancer. But here we are, he's done with chemo and we are still a long way from finished.

When Jackson finished his last round of Bone Marrow Transplant, I thought I'd feel relieved. "We are done!" But I didn't feel that relief. Instead I feel fear, and hope, and lots of faith. I am afraid that the chemo didn't work, and that they just stop treatment but don't run scans for months. I am afraid that the tumor will grow while the doctors are not watching it. I am afraid that he will relapse- or that the chemo didn't work at all. But at the same time, I am relieved that we are done with this part. I am grateful that he survived the harsh protocol, and that he is surviving and thriving. I am grateful that he is getting healthier every day, and that he has not had many of the harsh, horrible side effects that could have been. And above all, I have hope. I have hope that my boy will live a long, healthy, cancer free life.

Remember us? We're still here- on this road of childhood cancer. But we've found the beauty that this road of cancer can hold, and we're grateful that even through trials, we can survive and thrive.

Monday, February 6, 2012


What do most kids do when they are inpatient in the hospital? I'm afraid most kids lay in bed for days on end, they get bed sores from living a sedentary lifestyle. They watch TV, countless movies, and play video games. Some kids get so sick that they do nothing but sleep all day, and try to let their little bodies heal. Some kids ride bikes in the hall. Some kids have syringe water fights with their nurses. Some kids drive remote control cars with fart machines taped to them. Some kids make crafts.

We've been on both sides of the fence. Jackson has been that kid that laid in bed, so sick that he slept all day. Jackson has lost leg muscles and lung function because he didn't stay active enough. But thankfully more often than not, Jackson has also been the kid causing nurses to laugh. He has started many, many syringe water fights. He plays bowling, and basketball, he jumps on the bed, and plays hide-n-go seek in his tiny hospital room, and he drives remote control cars.

In fact, last week when Jackson was inpatient he drove his remote control truck over the nurses. Yep, they laid on the floor and allowed my son to drive right over the top of them. He LOVED it! And I thought I'd share it with you.

Not everything about being at the hospital is horrible. Honestly we have come to LOVE the staff on the ICS unit. The staff has been so good to not only Jackson, but our entire family. The ICS unit has become home for us. Honestly, some of the coolest people we know are nurses!!

And, if we have to be stuck inpatient somewhere- there is nowhere else we'd rather be!