Monthly Archives: May 2012

Back after a 2-week hiatus

Initially granted a one-week break due to her low ANC (absolute neutrophil count), Emily’s treatment was postponed for a second week when her ANC did not go up. After a two-week hiatus, her ANC has dramatically improved (up to 2,200) and we are beginning to see positive signs of her body recovering both from her chemotherapy and from the Leukemia in general.

During the break, we have focused on improving Emily’s food intake. Battling both nausea and diarrhea, Emily’s nutrition has been declining and in order to avoid the placement of a nasal feeding tube, the family has tried making mealtime fun for Emily. She seems most likely to eat when other people are eating with her and even better if she can eat off of your plate! Her interest in food is still going back and forth but so far, the doctors have not ordered the feeding tube and we hope it stays that way.

Standing tall with sister Sophia!

One of the initial indicators of Emily’s illness was her refusal to walk and her general malaise. We have seen Emily’s playful spirit steadily improving since her treatment began and the past two weeks have brought significant milestones in Emily’s mobility. She has gone from crawling, to standing with assistance, and finally to walking on her own for short distances! Check out the video below for a clip of Emily taking some of her first steps on her own in over four months!

Along with the return of her strength and spirit has come a great enthusiasm for playtime. Emily loves to swing in the front yard and to ride around the block in the family’s pedal car. At Ethan’s Little League playoff game this past weekend, she was goofy and silly in true Stitch fashion – cheering on her brother and playing pirates with William. Last weekend, Emily and sister Sophia celebrated Mother’s Day with the girls by going on a garden walk through Sacramento’s Fab 40’s neighborhood.

Emily loves Auntie Danielle

Mommas and their babies

A Mother’s Day Tea Party

Christina shows Emily & Sophia the flowers

The Mommas

Mother’s Day Garden Walk

Some of the recent pictures show another improvement in Emily’s condition – a decline in the puffiness around her face and body! Processing the chemotherapy is tough work for Emily’s liver and has caused a backup of fluids in her body. Shortly after her treatment began, Emily became swollen and puffy, most notably in her face, but we are finally seeing evidence that her liver is functioning properly again as our familiar little Stitch returns!

Pirate William and the Fair Maiden!

With her ANC back up, Emily will begin her next four-week round of treatment tomorrow. For the next two weeks, she will be at the infusion room four days a week for chemotherapy. Then two weeks of just one-day-a-week treatments. From there, the doctors will plan out the next phase depending on how her blood responds.

Sitting around with Cousin Joah

Please join us in praise for the improvements in Emily’s spirits, mobility, and physical well-being. Please keep praying for an increased appetite and an overall improvement in her blood work, as evidence that the treatment is working to fight the Leukemia in her body. 

There’s our playful Stitch!

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A Week’s Vacation

Storytime with Auntie Jen

After Emily’s long stay in the hospital, her doctor decided a week’s vacation was in order! Well, it was also due to her extremely low ANC count, but it is well-earned nonetheless!

Emily kicked off her week without treatment with a visit from the Howell Family and she had a fun-filled Friday with aunts, cousins, and friends. Her spirits are always higher at home with family and her mobility has also been improving, as pictures of her off-roading will attest!

Stitch looks like a girl ready for a fun time!

Despite the improvements in Emily’s physical strength, her eating habits have been worsening. The concerns over her food and fluid intake persisted over the weekend and the specter of a nasal feeding tube loomed. However, Monday brought a call from Emily’s home-health nurse with news from her lead doctor.

Doctor Ducore was on vacation last week while Emily was in the hospital and not available for consult on the feeding tube issue. But on his return, he assured the nurse that the family had made the right decision in refusing the tube. There’s nothing to worry about, he said! As long as Emily continues to be active and her lab results show no signs of malnutrition, Doctor Ducore believes Emily is getting what her body needs.

Emily, Momma, and Auntie Jen

On the medical front, Emily’s labs show that her white blood cell count has risen (from 0.4 to 1.0). A positive sign that her body is beginning to produce healthy cells on its own! Her ANC also jumped over the weekend from a low of 60 to 720! Emily’s protein and albumin levels remain low, however the puffiness in her face (partially caused by low protein levels) has finally begun showing signs of diminishing. While still not entirely gone, we can finally see a bit of the Emily we knew before the Leukemia took hold.

Emily continues to struggle with pain and nausea, causing her sleep to be fitful and likely a major contributor to her lack of appetite. Please keep Emily’s physical body in your prayers. Pray that this week “off” will be rejuvenating in body and spirit so she can enter next week’s four-day treatment schedule at the top of her game. 

Dance Time with Christina and the cousins!

Emily is Home!

Ready to go home!

After a solid night’s sleep, Emily was talkative and playful Wednesday morning. She woke asking for “her boys” (aka her brothers) and spent the morning crawling about the room in angel wings with Mommie and Auntie Elisabeth.

Just before lunch, Kathie, the music therapist arrived armed with a variety of musical instruments and the quartet joined in song. Midway through “This Little Light of Mine”, Dr. Taylor arrived and was so impressed by Emily’s bright smile and joyful song that he declared she should get to go home and sing with her family!

While Emily’s ANC remains well below the normal discharge level (60 when it should be 500), her other important blood count levels have risen and she has remained fever-free. She also began eating food with greater gusto after nausea and pain medication helped her feel a little better. All in all, Emily’s spirits and body tend to do much better when she is with her family and surrounded by the comforts of home and we are so excited that she was able to return home yesterday afternoon.

Naptime with Auntie

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support this past week! It is hard on the entire Love family when Emily has to be in the hospital and they are blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful family and friends who help ease the burden.

Enjoy some more birthday pictures and a video from Emily’s last two days in the hospital!

Taking balloon-dog for a walk!

How many instruments can one Stitch play?

Emily loves visits from her siblings

Emily’s siblings made her cards & cake pops!

Happy Birthday Emily!!!

Emily is Two!!

Two years ago, God gave Christina and Jason a precious gift, their youngest child, our adorable Stitch. For two years, we have all loved and adored the spirited little girl who smiles wide and laughs from her belly. She has always been the life of the party and today was no different.

Emily started her day with a procedure at the surgery center, where the doctors and nurses had hung a birthday sign and gave her a flower wand that she waved through the halls. After surgery, some of her favorite nurses brought Emily a new party frock!

Around midday, Emily’s room was overwhelmed with cousins and siblings, Aunties and Grandmas! The nurses and child life team brought cookies and the music therapist led the kids in songs. Aunt Marni shared butterfly cupcakes and Emily opened presents and played with delight.

Aunt Marni and Emily's cousins!

A birthday wouldn’t be complete without some good medical news and we were happy to hear that Emily’s blood counts are good, her ANC is still slowly rising, and the feeding tube is NOT being put in! We are looking forward to a release in the next 48 hours so maybe Stitch can play in the weekend sun.

Showing Daddy her new necklace

We’ll upload more birthday pictures and video soon!