Swine Flu... What Should We Do?

Well... this happened a little sooner than I thought it would: a child at Mollie's school (not in her class) was diagnosed with novel H1N1 influenza.

The good news is that the child's parent told me and the principal called me to inform me last night. Actually, I'm very pleased because it means that the school and parents have taken our requests to heart. Just last night, we distributed a letter to the kindergarten parents explaining Mollie's health status and asking for parents to please notify us if their child becomes ill. It worked.

So now for the swine flu. I spoke with Dr. Bell. She said that we could keep Mollie out of school, but it will probably take at least a year for the virus to make it's way through the community. Or, we could just be careful about monitoring the people with whom she comes into direct contact. Basically, it's up to us. Man, this is tough.

I am inclined to be extremely cautious right now. Once the vaccine is available, I think (& hope) that it will reduce the chances of Mollie getting sick (or severely sick).

She went to school today. Next week, she has chemo on Tuesday, so I will probably keep her home all week. She will be on steroids anyway. And we will find out her ANC which should help us decide.

I wasn't expecting this decision to be so hard, but Mollie really loves school. She's just getting into the routines and getting to know the other kids and her teacher. I hate to yank her from that right now if it's unnecessary, but I definitely don't want her to wind up extremely ill in the hospital over missing a few days of school. If only there was a published risk benefit analysis!!

Updated with an excerpt from an e mail I got from another practitioner (Beth) in the Peds Oncology practice:

If the child in her class isn't exhibiting any symptoms (cough,
sore throat, fever, etc), then Mollie is okay to continue going to school. I think this flu season is going to make everyone a little more nervous that usual because of the threat of swine flu. We are following the CDC recommendations in our advice to our patients. Currently they are not quarantining family members of persons that have the flu...that may change as the season progresses. For the present, I would allow Mollie to continue attending school....keep in touch with her teacher, and if children in her classroom have active flu symptoms, that would be a reason to keep her home for a few days.


Kindergarten Rocks

Mollie had a fabulous day at school today. When she came home, she said, "Thanks you so much for signing me up for kindergarten." She is just too sweet sometimes.

I talked with the school nurse and principal today and they were very friendly; it seems like everyone is very willing to work with us to accommodate Mollie's needs. Hurray! Now I just have to get current copies of her vaccinations and hearing/vision tests...

Lucy looks forward to Mollie coming home every day; I'm planning on enrolling her in a playgroup or class so she gets some interaction with other children.

Don't forget to stop by Dairy Queen tomorrow for a blizzard. Help make miracles happen!

Research Article

I haven't posted much about cancer research on this blog, but I happened across this article today (screen shot above) and it caught my eye. I think this technique has the potential to advance both leukemia research and treatment.

You can read the original research article in JCI.


A Blizzard is Good Once in a While

This Thursday (Aug. 13th) is Miracle Treat Day at Dairy Queen. For every Blizzard sold, a minimum of $1 will be donated to your local Children's Miracle Network hospital.

So beat the heat, give yourself a treat, and help a children's hospital in the process. Click this link to find a participating Dairy Queen and learn more about Miracle Treat Day.

I'm already envisioning a Thin Mint blizzard....mmm!


School Days

Mollie had a great time at kindergarten today!

Last night she was awake at midnight, nervous about getting on the bus and her first day of school. After a lot of reassurance, she finally fell asleep. This morning went very smoothly; Isabella helped her get on the bus and I know Mollie appreciated that!

She seemed to enjoy the activities at school and really loved seeing Hannah, although she misses her friends and the "centers" from pre-K. Lunch came home mostly un-eaten, so tonight she helped pack her food for tomorrow.

I have lots of health-related paperwork to fill out for the school. I am hoping they won't give us a hard time about absences since she has IV chemo and steroids next week.

All in all, it was a good first day! Matt and I are very happy with how this summer has gone. After everything she missed out on last year, it is so nice that she had the chance to go to camp and Tahoe and start kindergarten with her class.


Yesterday, a little girl named Anika lost her battle with leukemia. I am heartbroken for this family; their little girl has been plagued by this disease since she was a toddler. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with the devastating pain and loss.

In a selfish way, when I hear of a child who has died or relapsed I look for any details that make their cancer and treatment different than Mollie's. I'm looking for some reassurance that this won't happen to us, but it's not there. This is a fear we have to live with.

Hug your loved ones tight. Be gentle with your children. Keep in mind the parents who have lost a child; they would give anything to have their little ones running around, making messes, and pestering them with questions.