Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leukemia - Through the Eyes of a Five Year Old

The other day my father asked me how much Jemma understands what is happening to her. I thought this was a really good question.

She understands that she has a really bad sickness called Leukemia and nobody knows how she got sick. Inside her body her blood makes bad white blood cells which her body puts inside her bones. When a lot of the bad white blood cells are inside her bones it makes them hurt. The medicines she is taking are teaching her body how to make good white blood cells and killing the bad ones. She will have to take them for a long time, because just like it takes babies a long time to learn to walk, and kids a long time to learn to read, it will take her body a long time to learn to make good white blood cells again.

She knows that her hair is falling out because of the medicines she is taking, and she knows it will grow back when she stops taking them. A special mouthwash must be used three times a day to protect her teeth. (She wondered if her teeth would fall out like her sisters if she quit using the mouthwash). She understands that many parts of her body (ears, brain, kidneys and more) must be checked because she is taking lots of medicine.

She knows that she will be visiting the hospital several times per week just like she used to go to preschool several times per week. She knows she can't do a lot of things she used to be able to do such as ride her bike, take a bath, swim in a pool, and play in the dirt. She must eat only fresh, healthy, and well washed foods. If there is any brown inside an avocado, for example, she may not eat it. She cannot eat food from anyone else's plate and she isn't allowed to get food on her own.

There are only a few things she doesn't understand and I think her lack of comprehension makes her treatment easier for her. She does not understand side effects of medications very well. She only knows when she is hungry, has a headache or feeling like she has to throw up. She doesn't make the connection and therefore doesn't anticipate side effects or worry about them. She does not know or understand is how serious her condition is, and I am so thankful for that. Her mind is just not developed enough to understand these things. Perhaps that is why kids tend to have an easier time with Leukemia treatment as compared with adults.


  1. In some ways that is better to not understand. A package got shipped out Monday, hopefully a bright hats and some trinkets will make her feel better.

  2. I am sorry to hear this. I will keep Jemma in my prayers.

    My uncle has AML and had a bone marrow biopsy today to see how the first round of chemo went. It's a terrible disease.

  3. It is probably best she doesn't fully understand, most adults can't understand the treatment process. Thankfully children are very resilient and after it is all over she will have forgotten most of what she went thru.

  4. I'm reading through your posts to catch up on how you are all doing... this post really touches me. She is such a beautiful little girl and I still cannot fathom 'why' our sweet little children get sick. I am praying for her and for you... for your whole family! I am amazed and inspired at how well you all seem to be handling this tough time!


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