Saturday, January 24, 2009

Counts Back Down

Israel took Anya to the clinic on Friday morning for her follow-up lab work. Unfortunately her ANC is back down (.628 or 628) and so again she is susceptible to infection.

She has a little cold right now, and we are thankful that it has not developed into something worse. She has no fever, but if that were to change we have to call the doctors immediately so that they can determine if she needs additional medical care.

The bummer about all of this is that we have to be real cautious with where we take Anya and who she is around. We allowed her to go to church today, but she wasn't able to play with the other children or mingle around with people. During the greeting time, she had to stay in her seat and it broke her little heart...this of course, breaks ours.

And we were supposed to have people over this evening for a Young Adult Meeting, including a couple kids, but we had to change the location of the meeting since Anya shouldn't be around a lot of people. Again...bummer.

The good news is that her other counts are within the acceptable range, so we don't have to fear relapse. Her low ANC is a result of her body trying to fight off all of the seasonal colds and other infections that come around. She is still on a half dose of the chemo and will be reevaluated on Feb 6 to make sure that the ANC count is recovering, or at the very least staying above .500. Thanks again for all your prayers! And please continue to pray that her counts would be high enough that she would be able to play freely with other kids and spend time with the folks that she cares so much about.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good news!

Anya went in for bloodwork this morning and her ANC has gone back up into the normal range, confirming the doctors' suspicion that the problem was simply lowered counts as a result of fighting off infections, and nothing more serious.
We start Anya back on her chemo this week at about half the dosage and will have another appointment next week to make sure she is ready to go back to full strength. Her color and energy have returned throughout the week (she was looking pretty pale and fatigued over the weekend) and she is happy to be off of the steroids until next month.
We are so thankful for all the prayers and support this week. We are also again thankful to God that this delay was so short. So many children suffering from leukemia spend weeks at a time in the hospital with infections while their treatment is delayed. This week-long break in the treatment is the first delay we've experienced since we returned home in April and we were able to spend it at home with Anya in good health, despite the fact that she was essentially functioning without an immune system. Praise God for so many healthy months!

Friday, January 9, 2009

January Update

I (Israel) took Anya in this morning for her monthly appointment and quarterly spinal tap. Thankfully the spinal tap went very smoothly! The pain medication was regulated, and Anya lay calmly throughout the whole procedure! There was none of the resistance or crying that had occurred with the first two since we returned to KC.

This was a HUGE blessing for me. While Anya does not remember any of the spinal taps, even when it hurts, it has been very difficult for me to watch her suffer while the doctors attempted to find the ideal dosage of the pain killers (which Anya refers to as her "sleepy medicine" and "silly medicine").

While the doctors said that Anya looked great overall, her Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) was down to almost zero (.01). This means means that she has very few white blood cells to fight infection. Since chemotherapy kills white blood cells while killing leukemia cells, the doctors instructed us to withhold her chemo for the next week. We will take her back on Thursday for blood work to see if her counts have recovered.

According to the doctors, if all of Anya's blood counts were lowered, there would be reason to believe that the leukemia had returned. Because only her ANC has been affected, they suspect that in the midst of cold and flu season Anya's body's white blood cell supply has been tapped out by the combination of chemo and fighting illness. While Anya has not been symptomatic the low count may indicate that her body is fighting something.

So for this week we're back to trying to keep things as sterile as possible and limiting Anya's exposure to public places. And we are praying that Anya is in fact still in remission, and that the white blood count will increase by her next appointment.

She begins steroids tonight for five days, so she won't be fit to go out and do a whole lot anyway, but it is disappointing in that she planned to attend church tomorrow and have friends over tomorrow night. That will have to happen another time. We had begun to forget what it was like to quarantine ourselves...this week should remind us and help us to be even more grateful when her counts go back up and she can come and go as she pleases.

As always we want to express our gratitude for your ongoing love and support, and solicit your continued prayers. This week would you join us praying specifically that Anya's lowered count is not an indication of a serious problem, and that things will be back to normal when we go in next week?

Also, I plan to travel to northern California on Friday to preach for a special service there. Please pray that God would give me safe travel and the words to speak as I minister. We love you all.