Monday, August 6, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 50

Check out that horrible bruise. It happened after a very minor accident. Jemma is doing well, but her blood values are all currently very low. Are you ready for some technical terms? Here are a few I'm becoming familar with.

Leukocytes - When this is low her immune system is very weak and she cannot fight off illness.
Hemoglobin - Low Hemoglobin causes weakness, low energy and headaches.
Platelets (Thrombozytes) - Platelets control the bloods ability to clot. When they are high there is too much clotting and when they are low there is too much bleeding. Low platelets can result in lots of bloody noses and easy bruising.

If any of these become too low Jemma receives a blood transfusion. They are all currently very low but within the expected range for someone with Leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy.

I am also learning about the effects of chemotherapy. 10-14 days after a dose is when the blood levels are typically at their lowest. Jemma is given chemotherapy in different forms almost every day. She currently receives a daily pill and a shot into her catheter four days per week. 13 days ago we stayed overnight in the hospital so she could receive a very strong dose through the iv. That strong dose of chemo is the one which is dominating the blood test results.

We were able to spend the entire days of Saturday and Monday at home without a visit to the hospital. This brings to total to three full days at home since June 12.

Jemma's fever last week added to our numerous days at the hospital. The fever was caused by a bacteria infection. Although, we will probably never know exactly how she got sick, it is believed that the infection came from within her body. Bacteria normally live within all of us. Without strong white blood cells to prevent movement, bacteria was likely able to pass from an area where it lived safely insider her to an area where it was able to wreak havok.


While we were at home on Saturday nothing seemed to go right for my oldest daughter. She was having a difficult time with everything happening, so after the other two kids went to bed we had a little chat. I told her how lucky she was to have the opportunity to spend so much time with friends. They have taken her to wild animal parks, swimming pools and playgrounds. She has gotten to spend the night, play with her friends and eat meals with other families. We also talked about how her father and I have worked hard to make sure her life has changed as little as possible. She can still go to dance, tennis and music lessons. Then she complained about not going on vacations. I reminded her that we went on a week long trip with Grandma and Grampa, then a cruise which she followed up with a month in Michigan. Most people are lucky to take a one week vacation once per year. She laughed. I'm not sure what she expected? Then she hit me with the big one. The real one.......... You are always leaving. I explained that I had to; if I don't, nobody will and Jemma will not get better. I told her she is welcome to come with us to the hospital. She didn't want to, but I made her go on Sunday. It turned out to be a good visit. Jemma had blood drawn and then we had to wait about an hour in the play room for the results. During that time I was able to spoil them both with attention. We played games and did puzzles.

Nobody said this was going to be easy, and it sure isn't, but we are getting through.


  1. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers every day - you all will make it through, and Jemma will be a healthy girl again. I have a package to send out tomorrow with little treasures for the whole family. Sending much love and support.

  2. I so hear you on this one. Gavin was 9 when Joanna was diagnosed with her brain tumor. His dad was in Iraq and came back with a red cross stay in the hospital with us....that wasn't what he expected when Dad was coming back...him being in the hospital most of the time. Will had to go back to Iraq and we went to another hospital, he stayed with my mom. It was hard for him, but I was lucky that my family was just 3 hours away and my sister 1 hour. They there mostly there only for make him feel special. It is hard on the siblings too.....and sometimes ones struggles to make everybody feeling okay. And it is always the same question> Why you always have to go away. When Will came back for RandR they both had a weekend just for them, they stayed in a Hotel together....just them...that also helped.
    And it is so true what you said at the end of your will get through..

  3. Love you guys and I know your family, out of everyone I know, will get through this... you're so close and loving - and tough cookies, forgot to mention that!


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