Thursday, July 17, 2014

THE END OF ALL PILLS


A few months ago we took the donations from Carter's party up to the hospital.  It was fun to drop that stuff off and know it's going to help brighten the spirits of families going through a rough time.  Thank you so much to all who donated!  We might make this a tradition.


Carter has been doing awesome at the clinic visits, even with the blood draw from his arm.  Everything looks great.  Blood counts are great, he's growing a lot, tons of energy, etc.  He'll keep going in for regular check-ups for many years (like through high school...) to make sure it stays that way.


And the best news:  He is ALL done with ALL pills!  He has been on an antibiotic since he first started treatment 3.5 years ago.  Sunday night was his last time taking it, finally!!!!

And with that, this is good-bye.  I'm ready to stop thinking/writing about cancer for a while.  This blog has been a great way to document this journey and update loved ones far away.  It was also very therapeutic for me to write about all that was going on.  It has served it's purpose well.  Thank you for reading and for all the love and support and help we received over these past years.  We have tried to tell and show our gratitude to all of you as best we could, though it still feels insufficient.  Please know that all your acts of kindness, comforting and encouraging words, shoulders to cry on, hands that lifted and strengthened us, did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  We are amazed by your goodness.  

THANK YOU
WE LOVE YOU

Friday, April 25, 2014

PARTY!


Here's just a few pictures from the party!  It was so great!  The weather was nice, the food was yummy, the company was amazing.



This guy, The Mighty Baker (mightybaker.com), donated this amazing cake for my little boy.  
SO AWESOME!!!!
And it was really delicious.


There was lots of jumping


Some eating


oh, and lots and lots of gumballs.




This little girl was in heaven!


Small little petting zoo of sorts.  Bunnies and teenage chickens.


Everybody wrote a small note for Carter on his posters.


So much family!  All my siblings and *almost* all my cousins were there.  It was so fun to be together!


Lots of food and cake.  And lots of helpers.

Although not pictured, we must not forget the 'candy cannon'!  It's exactly what it sounds like.  Candy rained from the sky.  I have a really awesome Uncle...


The dragon pinata.  It has no idea what's about to hit him.





This is his Dragon Slayer face.  Love it!


Then he destroyed it even more.

You probably remember the significance of "dragons" in all this.  To explain everything that was going on to Carter, we compared the cancer to a dragon.  So throughout treatment, he knew he was "fighting his dragon".  He was always the bravest of warriors.  It's been a LONG hard road, but it feels amazing to be on this side of it!  Thank you to all who came and celebrated with us!

We can't possibly express in words how grateful we are for all the help, love, and support along the way.  I don't know how we would've gotten through all this without all of you.  Far or near, we so appreciated and counted on the love and prayers and service.  We have been reminded just how amazing and wonderful life is.  We were able to step back and evaluate what's really important and what just doesn't matter.  We know that (in the words of my amazing Grandma) FAMILY IS EVERYTHING.  We love you all!  Carter is so excited to take your donations up to the hospital and deliver them to other families who are still going through a difficult time.  It feels great to be able to pay it forward a bit.

THANK YOU, THANK  YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DONE!!!!!


We had a good time celebrating his last day of chemo pills.  He requested chicken nuggets for dinner.  done.


Grandma and Grandpa came over too!


Then some milkshakes for dessert.

The last link on the chain:
video




video
And just like that, we're done.  Done.  No more chemo.  Like, none.  Ahhhhhhh

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

two things

First of all, Carter just took his LAST dose of steroids (aka, "yucky medicine")!!!!!

Also, I'm planning a party in a few weeks!  I sent out a FaceBook event invitation.  If you didn't get one, don't be offended, I probably just missed your name - message me and I'll send you one :)

We love you all!!!!  Thank you so much for the love, support, encouragement, etc over these past three+ years.  We can't imagine how much harder it would've been without our support system.  You guys rock!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Last in-hospital chemo done!

Yesterday will go down in history!  Carter had his last dose of Vincristine through his port and Intrathecal Methotrexate in his spinal fluid.  And his port is a thing of the past!


Getting ready for his last port access


 Success!



You are seeing his last dose of chemo through his port!



The nurses sang to him and gave him all sorts of fun stuff.



video

He got to ring the bell!!!!  (sorry it's sideways...)







A few minutes before surgery.


Waking up from surgery.
The surgeon said everything went well, although the port was pretty stuck in there with lots of scar tissue.  He had to make a second incision to get it all out.


Then they had to do an xray to make sure it was all out.  He was not feeling so great after the surgery.  Pain, nausea, etc.  His oxygen level kept dropping so we had to stay a little longer til it stabilized.


Getting oxygen


Finally feeling ok.  He took a nap in the hospital, another in the car on the way home, and went to bed early.  He's feeling great today!  17 more days and he's all done with chemo!  It was a long and emotional day and we're glad it's over.  Here's to a wonderfully bright future for our amazing boy!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Only ONE more chemo visit left!!!!!!!

Things are getting pretty exciting around here!  Yesterday was Carter's 2nd to last chemo visit.  We even scheduled his surgery to have his port removed next month.  It all seems so surreal.  I remember a long time ago, Carter was in the playroom at our old hospital with his daddy.  An older boy (I think he was 7...) was there and was showing everyone his port that he'd had removed just that morning.  He had just finished treatment.  Dennison told me about it later and we talked about how happy we were for that boy and at the same time so overwhelmed with the path ahead of Carter and us.  It honestly seemed like an eternity away that he would be the one showing off his port and finally finishing treatment.  I think we even asked each other, "Will that ever be us?  Will that experience actually happen to our family?"  And honestly, we didn't know.  How could we?  Our son was in a fight for his life (still is...).  We hoped and prayed that we would have that day in our future to celebrate.  And here we are, 45 days away from it.  45 DAYS!  We still hesitate to get excited about milestones knowing anything could happen still.  BUT, even if something did happen, would we regret celebrating this?  Of course not.  So bring on the party!

His appointment yesterday went great.  His port wouldn't draw any blood when it was first accessed so they had to put a drug in it called TPA.  It breaks up any clots or blockages that may have formed.  He's had to do this once before a long time ago.  We all kept joking that we don't really care if his port stops working all together cause we'll just take it out next month.  Oh wait!  We're doing that anyway!  Hahaha, we're hilarious.  Anyway, it did work after that so they could do a CBC and give his second to last dose of vincristine.  Then we were sent on our merry way.  I did have a great conversation with his doctor though.  I was asking how often he would come in for check-ups over the coming years (every month for the first year, every 2-3 months for the next, and gradually get longer between visits until it's once a year) and how long he would have to keep coming.  He told me they'd keep checking him out all through high school (that's a long time!) but not necessarily to check for relapse, more to watch for late effects of the chemo.  I'm not sure if that make me feel better of worse!  I started researching late effects one time and it was way too depressing so I stopped and just ignored that part of all this.  I know that some late effects include heart problems, fertility issues, growth problems, learning problems, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.  I stopped reading after those ones...  BUT the good news is, Carter's doctor said that Carter is at a very low risk of having any of those.  All through treatment he has tolerated the medicines very well and had minimal side effects (they didn't seem minimal to us at the time...), and has already recovered very well even in maintenance.  What a relief!  Of course that's no guarantee but I'll take it!  He also told me that most relapses happen within three years of diagnosis.  We've already passed that milestone, so that's great.  After 5 years from diagnosis is when they can count him in the statistics as a survivor since the chance of relapse at that point is very very minimal.  Also another big relief!  Again, anything can happen, but I'll take that one too!  And in other good news, once his port is out they don't worry so much about infections.  That means that if he gets a fever, guess what I have to do.... absolutely NOTHING!  No ER, no antibiotics, no blood cultures, nothing.  Just give him some tylenol and put him back to bed.  Ahh, it will be nice.


Carter has had one other appointment that I haven't mentioned.  Last month, just another chemo visit.  He's also been to the ER twice for fevers.  Other than that, everything is going great.  He's liking 1st grade and is learning and growing everyday.  We want to have some sort of party next month when he's finally done.  Any ideas?

Friday, January 3, 2014

another new hospital

First off, it's great to be back at a USA hospital!  Carter had his first appointment at our newest hospital yesterday.  Everything went great!  Our new doctor even knows our old doctor in Portland!  Everyone was so nice and helpful.  A social worker (who I've emailed with several times getting things set up before our arrival) took me all over the hospital showing me where everything is.  It was a very good experience.

Heading in for his appointment



We met lots of new people.  Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, insurance facilitators, etc.  Everyone was so nice and welcoming.  Carter did and great job, of course.  


Thumbs up


This was his second to last lumbar puncture!  He was excited about getting the "sleepy medicine" again.  It all went very smooth.  I even got a printout of his blood counts!  I haven't had one of those for almost a year.  Ah, it's good to be back.

It has officially been over three years since Carter was diagnosed with leukemia.  Wow.  He only has just over three months left of chemotherapy!  It's been a long and crazy three years with a lot of ups and downs.  We have all learned a lot.  I am so overwhelmed with gratitude as I look back over these years.  It's been very hard but we've had the most amazing experiences along the way.  And to see how much Carter has grown through it all is just awesome.  The social worker at the hospital made a comment on how engaging he is.  He is very good at meeting new people and having conversations with adults.  He is incredibly optimistic.  He has a way of finding the good in every situation he is in.  It seems that the harder it is, the more easily he finds something to be happy about.  He is an amazing kid.  As a parent, it's been heart-wrenching to watch my oldest son go through something so difficult.  But he has inspired me and taught me so much about life and what's really important.  I am so lucky.