Good news today- Mollie's bone marrow looks normal, meaning the cancer is in remission (according to her oncologist and the pathologist). This is good, but I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We have the remainder of the 28-day induction period, and then the intensification therapy and maintenance therapy. Without continuing therapy, the leukemia almost always relapses. So we're looking at, probably, ~3 years of treatment, but it all depends on blood counts, bone marrow results, etc.

And then there's some not so good news: one of my good friends, nea, told me yesterday that her mom (B.A.) was diagnosed with cancer. I don't know the details yet, but I'm sure she's struggling with a lot of the same feelings and fears. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.

The thing about cancer is it doesn't discriminate. I have been trying to learn as much about A.L.L. as I can and, of course, I've come across articles about potential risk/protective factors. Some of the things that may "reduce" the risk for A.L.L.:

-the mother taking folate supplements during pregnancy
-eating lots of fruits and vegetables during the first 2 years of life
-being in daycare during the first year of life

Obviously, these studies just deal with risks/probabilities. When I was pregnant with Mollie, I took folate and other prenatal vitamins. I ate (and still eat) lots of fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods. I have made Mollie eat those foods too. And, she started daycare when she was 8 months old. Yet, we are where we are.

I am a scientist, so it's hard for me not to dwell on the "why." But, I am moving beyond this by focusing on Mollie and her treatment, and hoping that all we have done to ensure Mollie's good health will help her beat the cancer.
Got a few packages today... thanks Diane, Diane, Katherine, Anoush, Megan, and the Korvers!


Does anyone know if you can buy a regular scrapbook anymore? I don't want a fancy one with plastic sleeves- just something plain where I can stick all of the cards and well-wishes that Mollie has received.

Today went well. It seems that "hurry up and wait" is SOP around the hospital. No finger stick (yay!), but the port access was difficult. Mollie said she was going to kick the nurse, but I convinced her to just squeeze my hands and "holler if it hurt". She did super. Then we had to wait for her blood counts (really good, ANC = 1700). After that they administered the vincristine and sent her to surgery for the spinal tap and bone marrow aspirate. We should get the bone marrow results tomorrow or Monday.

And the docs took off all the band-aids and port access while she was still out so a big thank you to them!

And a huge thank you to our friend Michelle who has provided us with dinner for the next few nights (at least!) from a local catering place.


Tomorrow (Thursday) is going to be rough. First thing in the A.M. Mollie has to go into the Hem/Onc clinic for bloodwork (glucose stick, CBC). They are going to stick her finger for the AccuChek (she HATES that) and then they're going to "access" her port (the "central line" in her chest) to draw a blood sample. Then she's going to the OR for a spinal tap and methotrexate administration. And then she gets vincristine in her central line. I don't know if they will do that while she's under anesthesia or not. I'm thinking of asking the surgeons to take off any band-aids they find while she's knocked out because she won't let me take them off. And all of this is supposed to happen again next Thursday.

Anyway, it's heartbreaking. She's scared and I haven't figured out how much to tell her about what's going to happen. I don't want her to worry so much that she can't sleep, but I also know that she handles things better when she's had a little preparation. She doesn't do surprises well.

Today she played, watched T.V., went for a walk, made chocolate chip cookies with my mom, and had a good day. We'll hope tomorrow goes smoothly.

Genevieve, Anita, and Lauren sent a bunch of individually wrapped gifts (thank you!). We're thinking of letting her pick one out each time she does something brave (the girl is brave every day, but I'm thinking every time she has to go in to the clinic for an infusion, bloodwork, or surgery). What do you guys y'all think?


New challenges.

So, we're all home now. And after quite a while vegging out in front of the t.v., Mollie decided it was time to play "store". Her bedroom is upstairs and she went up a couple of times to get more "cool stuff" to sell in her store. I love it!

When I mentioned challenges, I was thinking about how I'm going to keep Mollie entertained/engaged. The drugs cause erratic changes in her energy level and mood (or, as Dr. V. said, they will "accentuate her personality"). We want to try to keep things as normal as possible, but it will test us. Tonight, one of Mollie's friends came over to welcome her home and she totally snubbed her, even though she was really excited that she was coming to visit 10 minutes before.

I am still teaching and finding the time to correct exams and record grades is not easy. And neither is responding to the flood of e mail and phone calls we've been getting. We love hearing from our friends and family! Knowing that there are so many people out there who care is a tremendous support. So keep 'em coming and I'll try to respond when I get the time.
She's home! Her ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is low so we have to be careful about visitors. And the chemo is making her feel unsteady on her feet so it's a challenge to get her up and walking around.

The first thing she wanted to do when we got home? Lay down on the sofa and watch Noggin. Some things never change...


Today was a good day. Matt spent the night at the hospital (as he has been EVERY night) and got a decent amount of sleep. I got in this morning and took Mollie to the CMC (Children's Medical Center) library to pick out some books and movies (princesses, ponies, and more princesses). They have these big red wagons for toting kids and their stuff at the hospital, so I pulled Mollie all over the place- outside to see the pond, into the lobby to see the player piano, and down just about every hallway in the hospital. She loved it and just wanted me to go faster!

Later in the afternoon Mollie got her PEG-asparaginase (chemo) and today it was two intramuscular injections in her thighs. She was not happy about that and didn't really get up out of bed much after that because her legs hurt.

Thank goodness Lucy is such happy-go-lucky girl! She is a trooper and none of this seems to be phasing her much. She always makes Mollie smile (and vice versa) so we try to let them spend as much time together as possible.

It's truly amazing how much our family has changed in one week. I am able to hold my daughter down while she screams about getting her finger pricked. Mollie is demanding chicken nuggets (it's the steroids). Matt is documenting every temperature/BP reading, doctor visit, etc. and keeping on top of ALL of Mollie's treatment issues. Lucy is on the verge of rolling over, is sticking her tongue out all the time, and babbling (she said "da-da" on Father's day).

Thank you everyone who has sent well-wishes, cards, balloons, etc. Mollie loves every bit of it and she's got so much stuff in her hospital room that it's blocking the view! No idea how we're going to get it all home (which might be tomorrow- keep your fingers crossed).



I haven't figured out what kind of blog this will be. I want it to be an outlet for me (and Matt if he decides to contribute) and a way to keep our family and friends updated on Mollie's progress. And I want to document this whole process as we go through it.

I just got finished painting Mollie's toenails (she didn't want to take off her band-aids to have her finger nails painted) and she's waiting for the nurse to come remover her I.V. so she can go for a wagon ride.

My feelings? I'm tired- trying to pump milk for Lucy, keep Mollie in good spirits, and come to terms with being a parent of a child with cancer is taxing. I have lots of sadness and worries that I am not indulging at the moment. I am thinking about the practical things right now- we need a new crib for Lucy and I think a double stroller might be a good thing. Our house is a mess and I just started a big "reorganizing" project before I got sick (before Mollie was diagnosed). My career is pretty much over (for the time being) and I'm trying to come to terms with that as well. I am going to continue to teach college biology classes at night and do occasional manuscript editing. I enjoy both of these activities immensely and it will help bring in a little extra money.

(I will post some pictures as soon as I figure out how to upload them from our small camera onto my Mac.)