To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 12: A Homecoming

Look at me, following through on promises and writing another blog; please, hold your applause. *wink*

For those of you following along at home, you already know that my mom was diagnosed on November 14th with stage 4 adult Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  It's as nasty as it sounds, and from that day forward, mom was holed up doing treatments in preparation for a bone marrow transplant at the fabulous Cancer Treatment Center of America, Zion, IL.

When I say "holed up", I mean it.  Mom had not been allowed to go home since that fateful day back in November.  We spent many holidays in the guest quarters and hospital; so mom could be safe in the vicinity of her doctors and nursing team.

While she was grateful to be watched so closely, one thing she desperately wanted to do before her transplant was go home.  After transplant, one must stay at the hospital for 100 days to make sure that the new stem cells have fully ingrafted and that there are no complications.  Mom is committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure her health and safety, but her one request was a reprieve at home (no matter how brief) before her "rebirthday" (transplant day).

Well, she got her wish!  Mr. C, myself, and mom were in the stem cell out-patient clinic a couple of weeks ago when Dr. Redei (head of the CTCA stem cell unit) twirled around in his chair and told mom she could go home for four days!  I've never seen mom pack so quickly (we were out the door within 20 minutes tops!); she was so excited to go home!

Mom giving the thumbs up as we take off for Iowa.

Our first stop once home was to go watch the Fairfield High School theater department's production of The Wizard of Oz.  This was the first real show I ever did at the age of 11; so I was really excited to watch it as well.  Mom's friend's oldest daughter, Baylee, was cast as Glinda the Good Witch; so, we rallied together and made a little cheering squad in the auditorium.  Mom was a good girl, too.  She wore her mask the entire time.

Part of the cheering squad: mom, Heidi, and Blair.
Mom and the show's director, Scott Slechta (my former high school drama teacher). :-)
Mom and Glinda (err, Baylee!) after the show!  She did a GREAT job!

Mom also got to visit with her friend, Debbie, who's husband is mom's chiropractor.
It was not long after this that mom found out that she had to go back to the CTCA for her LAST bone marrow biopsy and inter-thecal (injection of chemotherapy directly into spinal column) before transplant; BUT that after that, she would be allowed to go home for the remainder of the time.  Which also meant that she did NOT have to do her last round of "part B" chemo (methotrexate).

She was pretty excited about this, because the methotrexate always hit her quite hard and made her feel extra awful.  Instead, she would take higher doses of Sprycel to prepare for the transplant.  She's not too fond of Sprycel either, but it's better than the methotrexate; AND it acts like a sniper to keep the Philadelphia chromosome from causing a "blast crisis".

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, mom travels to Mt. Pleasant (about 1/2 hour away from our hometown of Fairfield) to the Henry County Health Clinic's infusion center to get a CBC (complete blood count) and any infusions she may need (magnesium, potassium, blood, platelets, etc.).  So far, they have been GREAT; and we're all feeling blessed that mom can still receive excellent care while being able to be close to home.

Mom relaxing at the Henry County Health Center's infusion Clinic.
Also, we like them; because they usually have treats like these:

Chocolate oatmeal cookies.
Italian sugar cookies.
Mom starts the procedures before her transplant on May 16th (the day before my birthday, no less); but until then, she's glad to be home - working in her craft room and sleeping her own bed.  She's been especially glad to be able to visit her home church, Faith Christian Outreach Church, to see all the faithful who've been standing with her in prayer and hope for her total restoration.  We all feel blessed to have such loyal, God-fearing brothers and sisters on our side.

Next stop: TRANSPLANT!  :-)  Until then...

Love and Blessings to You and Yours,


  1. I'm so glad your mom got a little "break" and was able to spend some time at home and with her friends. I'm keeping her in my prayers. :)

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