Last Friday marked the beginning of Emily’s Delayed Intensification stage – the final part of her Consolidation Phase and the last big push of drugs before she settles in for the two year-long Maintenance phase.
The schedule for this stage is a bit all over the place, meaning patience and flexibility are in high demand.
The first three weeks of the new stage require only one weekly visit to the infusion room for doses of Vincristine and Doxorubicin. She had a spinal tap on her first Friday visit and also began a weeklong round of steroids (a dose she will repeat after a one-week break). It has been several months since Emily was on steroids but we’ve all quickly been reacquainted with the little bear Stitch becomes with them in her system – constantly wanting to be held, always hungry but often unable to decide what she wants to eat, and sometimes very, very grumpy.
The positive to the steroid is it makes Emily a hungry hippo and her tiny frame could definitely use some fattening up!
Another positive in the first month’s schedule is that it only requires Emily to go to the hospital on Fridays, which leaves Momma Christina available to take the older four Love children to Classical Conversations each Tuesday! Emily was able to join the family on the first day of school last week – it was both her and Christina’s first time back at CC since before Emily was diagnosed! Homeschooling has been a challenge since Emily’s diagnosis, but with the help of friends and family, and four very bright and patient children, it has continued to be possible.
October 2nd should begin the second month of the Delayed Intensification stage, so long as Emily’s blood counts and ANC remain good. The second month begins with two weeks of near-daily trips to the infusion room for 8 doses of Ara-C, 2 spinal taps, an oral medication, and the introduction of a new chemotherapy drug. Emily will finish out the month with 2 doses of Vincristine, one each week, and then she will be done with Consolidation!
The Maintenance phase which follows will include intravenous and intrathecal therapy approximately every 4 to 8 weeks, based on Emily’s level of risk, as well as occasional rounds of the steroid. This should go on for two years – taking Emily’s treatment into the fall of 2014. It seems such a long way away, but the goal is a 100% cure and we can certainly wait and pray another two years for that!
Emily has had some fun adventures, happy family outings, and good rest over the past few weeks. She has even begun regrowing her hair (though she may lose it again with the current treatment)! While the side effects of her new round of chemotherapy have already begun to settle in, it all somehow seems more manageable with an ending point a little closer on the horizon.
Continued prayers are needed for Emily as she manages the discomfort and pain caused by her drugs and also for Christina and Jason as they balance work, school, and caring for Emily. Sometimes a little family time…and couple time…is the most important thing in the world!
Join us in Praising the Lord for Jason recently being asked to join the Board of the local Children’s Miracle Network! Jason has been speaking at local fundraising events, sharing his and Emily’s story, and helping support the U.C. Davis Children’s Hospital that provides her care. The Children’s Miracle Network is blessed to have gained Jason’s compassionate spirit and personal experience as they continue to help children around the country.
In other news, it is time for your local blogger (aka Elisabeth/Auntie Plum) to say farewell. The Lord has blessed me with an opportunity to serve overseas as a Peace Corps Volunteer and I will be saying goodbye to my family and friends this coming Monday, September 10th. I will be moving to Rwanda, where I will serve for 2 years, 3 months as an English Teacher in a rural village.
God has put the passion to serve on my heart and I know that this is all in His plans. Indeed, the timing has been purely Christ. Had I received my Invitation a few months ago, after Emily was first diagnosed, I am certain I wouldn’t have been able to go. While Emily still has a battle ahead, I know that she is in the best hands and I can leave with a heart of joy, knowing she is loved and cherished.
As I will likely be receiving family news days (if not weeks) delayed, I am passing the baton to other family members to continue to keep this blog updated and all of Emily’s supporters in the know! Over the coming months, Aunt Gaby, Aunt Danielle, Grammie (Genie), and Momma Christina will be sharing the blogging duties. Give them love, as they put their hearts to ink, and continue to share with you Emily’s journey.