Friday, June 22, 2012
I have become moderately obsessed with Ari's daily blood counts. I try not to get too caught up in the daily report (I only ask for a print out and spend at least 30 minutes every morning interrogating the docs and save the papers with my notes in chronological order to review all morning). The numbers fluctuate and it is common to see them up one day and down another, but I have been patiently waiting and watching for Ari's blast count to go down in the hope it hits zero.
And today it did!
I've had a spring in my step since receiving the news at 7am. I walked across the street to Starbucks this morning, smiling at the pedestrians, patients, and professionals crowding the busy intersection. And when the barrista asked how I was doing, my emotions got the best of me and I burst into tears and exclaimed, "my son's blast count is zero! Grande half caff please."
Here's the plagiarized medical explanation and significance (feel free to skip this part if you want and just know this is a very good update):
Ari's cancer, ALL for short (docs call it A.L.L. not "all"), is a cancer of the blood. The cancer comes from a cell in the blood called a lymphocyte. Normal lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow and help fight infections. In ALL, cancerous lymphocytes are called lymphoblasts (or blasts for short). They do not help fight infection and crowd out the normal blood cells in the marrow so the body cannot make enough normal blood cells. One of the goals of treatment is to eliminate all lymphoblasts so that the body can resume making normal blood cells.
When we checked into the hospital, Ari's blast count was a 75, meaning 75% of his cells were lymphoblasts. As of this morning, 0% of his cells were lymphoblasts, or in other words, there was no leukemia detected in his blood (!!!). Since yesterday's lumbar puncture results indicated the spinal fluid was also clear, we feel pretty good that Ari is responding so well to treatment. There is still a chance the blast count could go up a tad in the next few days (and the docs say this is not a bad sign, because often the sample size is small, and some cancer may hide) but for now, all signs indicate that Ari is on track to be in remission by day 32 (give or take a few days).
The final indicator will be a bone marrow biopsy but they do not perform this until Ari's counts rise to normal levels once again.
Ari's incredible progress won him the prize behind door #2...a blood transfusion! Don't worry, it won't hurt and will help him gain some energy back.
A snapshot of today's blood count print out with my favorite nurse's illustration of both the morning news and my current mood:
(This was my daily update...no clever intro today. I will work on something good for tomorrow.)
Have a great weekend!