Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and God bless you and your family!

This year our prayers have been answered. What better way to celebrate than to bake Jesus a birthday cake? We even have Happy Birthday Jesus party hats, compliments of a good friend. For dinner we'll be eating pizza because according to Katelyn, that's what you eat at a birthday party.

We are so thankful to be spending this holiday at home, creating new traditions, instead of in the hospital. As happy as we are today, I can't help but think there are others now going through what I went through last spring. (If you are one of them, please write me via Facebook, and I'll try to send you a little holiday cheer.)

Thank you to all of our family and friends who helped us get through 2011. (Mom and Dad, I love you so much.)

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Being a Parent With Cancer Part 1: Talking With Children About Cancer

Just thinking about talking with Katelyn about cancer makes my stomach feel like I've swallowed a handful of her Squinkies (If you don't know what those are, be thankful. They bounce and roll into every unreachable nook and cranny in the house.)

My daughter has been aware that I've been sick, but at two years old, she hasn't been capable of comprehending the magnitude, or that all the events this year have been connected. I had hoped that as her brain develops, our continual openness and her attendance at many of my medical appointments will cause a gradual understanding that won't terrify her. After reading some of the below resources, which should be helpful for any parent with cancer, I've come to the conclusion that there still will need to be a difficult conversation down the road.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

PCR Remission Test Result

The test came back negative (i.e., no blood cells with the chromosome transolcation that signifies APL). We are so, so relieved. Dr. Sharma said that we still need to figure out what's causing the pain. I told her I don't care, as long as it's not cancer, I don't care. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Health Update

This morning my doctor rechecked my blood cell counts. They are all still normal, which is a huge relief, considering acute promyelocytic leukemia is a very aggressive disease. She drew blood for a PCR test, for which I may get the result as early as Wednesday.

This past weekend was the hardest my family's had since I came home from the hospital. For the first time in a while, we were worrying about: the the possibility of spending Christmas in the hospital; a bone marrow transplant (and losing any chance of having another child); the inevitable fear of "What if a BMT doesn't work?"; and would Katelyn have any memory of me?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Thousand Better Ways to Spend a Friday Night

Yesterday evening my left side started hurting. Pain in the same area of my ribs that preceded my diagnosis last spring. When the ache hadn't dissipated by midnight, I called Dr. Sharma, who told me to get it checked out at the E.R. for peace of mind.

The CAT SCAN and blood counts came back normal, and there were no irregular cells when Dr. Sharma looked at a blood sample under the microscope this morning. However, she thinks it's worrisome that I'm having this same rib pain, so she'd like me to come into her office Monday to have blood drawn for a PCR test. The PCR test, which assesses the blood on a molecular level, is much more precise than a CBC (count of blood cells) or examining a slide under the microscope.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Being a Parent with Cancer Intro

Last night, I tried to entice Katelyn to read a picture book about a boy and his pet dragon. Unlike me, who would love my own dragon, Katelyn is not a fan. I flashed a page showing the boy walking Sparky the dragon on a leash. In response, Katelyn dumped out a tub of blocks and began to play. I flipped to the next page, which depicted Sparky being examined by a pediatrician. Katelyn ran over to the couch, climbed up next to me, pointed at the physician, and said, "Dr. K! Katelyn's doctor is Doctor K. Mommy's doctor is Doctor Sharma."

My child is more interested in doctors than dragons or blocks.

Although she is only two, this past year has left it's mark on her as well. She's accompanied me to so many of my doctor's appointments--not to mention visiting me in the hospital, that she thinks being examined by a doctor is cool. She looked forward to her two-year check-up with Dr. K for weeks, and didn't even flinch during her immunizations.

This evening, she went with me to Dr. Sharma's office for a blood test. Without prompting, she charged down the hall to the lollipop jar. When Lily pulled two purple rubber gloves from the dispenser, Katelyn tucked her chin to her chest and wouldn't look up. She knew what would happen next.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Twelfth Win for the Packers!

Packers vs. Giants

Thanks to a good friend of mine, my mom and I witnessed it in person.

My first hospital room in the leukemia wing last spring looked out on the Meadowlands (before I was moved to the ICU and then reassigned to a different room when my condition improved). From the eighth floor, I had a great view of MetLife stadium, though I wasn't exactly in the mindset to appreciate it. Not that I would have without under better circumstances, given my lack of interest in the Jets or Giants (sorry New Yorkers).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Review: Zahra's Paradise

 Zahra's Paradise, written by Amir and illustrated by Khalil (the authors have chosen to remain anonymous for political reasons), is a fascinating glimpse into Iran in the days following the uprising in June 2009. The first person narrative depicts one family's search for its missing son, who was last seen during the protests in Freedom Square. The intense emotions associated with the subject matter are supercharged through the book's graphic novel format.

Although the account is ficticious, it represents a composite of the repercussions that faced many Iranians following the uprising. Amir, an Iranian-American human rights activist, provides an insider's view of present day Iran, and Khalil's artwork is extraordinary. Throughout the novel, I found myself pausing to examine his intricate drawings.

You can read a sample chapter of the novel, which reached #5 on the New York Times Bestsellers list, at