Thursday, May 31, 2007

it's thursday, right?

Here's some news, friends. Thank you for loving us, our son, and for praying hard.

Yesterday Isaiah had simultaneous shots of a chemo drug called PEG in his thighs. It took 4 people to get it done and was very hard. But he is such a little fighter. He's just amazing me with his strength. But it doesn't come without a battle. Yesterday when he woke up he just started crying - a low, quiet cry. He started praying out loud, "Jesus, please help me. I just can't do this." Later I talked with him about God's mercy being "new every morning," about manna, and about God providing grace for what is still to come. His eyes and questions and rephrasing of my words showed remarkable focus. It was a holy morning. He's in the battle of his little life and he knows he needs God's help. Please continue to support him in prayer!

The dangerous PEG sideaffects didn't happen, thank God.

Tomorrow he has a bone marrow draw, a spinal tap, and Vincristine - a pretty nasty chemo treatment. Tomorrow is a big day for us. The results of this test will determine a lot.

We were moved into another room because another kid was "more sick" than Isaiah. So we have roommates now, which will be tough during the painful hours. But they are very encouraging Christians whose little boy is on the tail end of the 8 month regimen Isaiah's just starting. It was actually really helpful to meet and talk with them.

More soon...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

we're thankful for...

  1. medical care

  2. a well-stocked motor home to rest and eat in

  3. the doctors were concerned that Isaiah's back pain was due to fractures in his lower spine which sometimes happen when chemotherapy begins to kill cancer cells. He was x-rayed yesterday; the results showed no problems

  4. our church community staff who are working so hard and brought us holy communion on Sunday after church

  5. isaiah had his best day yet yesterday (tuesday). Though it ended pretty roughly, he was able to leave his room for the first time in a week. Overall, his tests reveal that his body is responding to the chemo. Thank God.

  6. amazing family support

  7. praying friends...thank you so much

so...what's next?

We’re learning as we go… On Friday or Saturday (June 2 or 3) Isaiah will have another bone marrow draw to determine how the Leukemia cells are responding to the chemo. The benchmark we’re praying for is less than 5% leukemia cells. This would be a very positive sign that the chemo is working and would open the door for us to go home sometime later that week.

The final piece (of this phase) is on day 29 when they will test for microscopic residue of leukemia. If he has none, he will be declared “in remission.” Further treatment would continue for the next 2.5 – 3 years. If he is not in remission by day 29, we slide into a category of much more intense treatment with more intense side effects. Please pray for our son’s body to respond quickly. Please pray for protection and healing in his major organs and for God’s merciful protection from the numerous serious side-effects. Please also pray as he begins to receive platelets and blood infusions – it feels very strange to have other people’s blood going into our son’s body. We feel burdened to pray specifically during these infusions and will send out text messages to alert some of you when he’s receiving blood. Please pray and pass these on.

the short version

Monday, May 23: Carmen received a call from Isaiah’s doctor saying the results from a blood test were “alarming.” (For the previous 3 weeks Isaiah had been fighting a fever, his asthma was really bad, and he complained of intense soreness all over. We took him to the doctor twice; the second time they did blood work.)

Tuesday, May 24: Carmen called me as I was about to board a plane in Alabama to say that the doctor said I should come home immediately.

Wednesday, May 25: Isaiah had a cat scan in the morning. The results showed no obvious signs of problems. We were relieved but later got a phone call from the pediatric oncologist reviewing his blood work instructing us to admit him to the hospital. We spent Wednesday night in the pediatric ICU.

Thursday, May 26: Isaiah had a spinal tap and bone marrow test to check for cancer. He was in intense pain all day and very confused. We met with a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, etc. for the initial consultation. The diagnosis: Leukemia (at this point they couldn’t tell us which kind).

Friday, May 27: We received news that Isaiah has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), which is the “better” of the two possibilities in terms of survival rate. Isaiah received his first chemotherapy directly into his spinal fluid and had a semi-permanent “port” surgically placed in his chest, near his heart, for future meds and blood draws.

Saturday, May 28: Isaiah begins his oral chemo regimen. This is the stuff (dexamethasone) that really wreaks havoc. This began his “induction” phase: the first 29 days of chemotherapy.

Since Sunday: Isaiah has had some very painful days. His personality is being affected by the events of the week as well as the chemotherapy. He’s extremely tired of being hooked up to tubes and seeing nurses. He’s also had moments when he’s back to a tired version of himself – sweet, insightful, exclaiming “whoa! Dad did you see that dunk?” while we watched the playoffs together.