Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oncology Clinic: Learning To Be Strong Like My Baby

Ready for me to say the "C" word? Here it goes...CANCER!!

That's the "C" word I'm most repulsed by these days.

Since birth, Spencer was battling a transitional type of Leukemia. What exactly does that mean? Well, first off, Leukemia is a type of cancer that floods the blood and bone marrow with immature white blood cells referred to so adorably as "blasts". Platelets, which cause blood to clot are low (hence why my fella isn't circumcised yet) as are red blood cells. It's a slow-growing cancer and I hate its guts. As for this Leukemia being transitional/transient, this means that in most cases, like Spencer's, the cancer goes into spontaneous remission by the time an infant is 12 weeks old. 

Remission is a beautiful word.

However, even though Spencer is in remission, he will always be at risk to be diagnosed with acute Leukemia which would need treatment. I HATE thinking about that but I'm trying to train myself NOT to worry about something that hasn't happened yet. I just have to take it day-by-day. Basically, since he was born in August, it's been a waiting game and a balancing act. All the numbers needed to add up in a certain way and sloooooooowly, they did. Eventually, platelets and hemoglobin were up, and "blasts" were gone. 

But this did not happen by 12 weeks, when it typically does. When the 12 weeks finish line came and went, I was in a panic thinking I was going to have to watch my baby go through Chemo or Radiation. Hadn't he been through ENOUGH? The answer was a face-punching YES, he had. And I had, too. After every appointment, I was using lunch or retail therapy to help me buck up. The baby was tuff. The mom was a wuss. But I've grown.

At first we were going to the Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Clinic at the Seidman Cancer Center every week from 16 days old. As the numbers went up, we went every other week...then every 3 weeks...and now that we're in the clear, and have been officially since November, we go once a month. Those pesky "blasts" were scared of us!  And by the way, if you want to see a horror show, watch people try and get blood from your small baby...they would run when they'd see him and his tiny veins coming, but it's getting better. As he grows, his veins grow. And thank GOD, because I once saw him get poked 6 times in one sitting. Vomit-inducing. Waiting for the phone to ring with the results doesn't sit so well in my guts either.

It's still hard to go every month knowing that they're going to take blood from my boy and that it's not going to be a piece of cake. But he's a trooper. If he can get through the visit, so can I. Plus, it's good to have the same team of nurses and doctors seeing him over and over again. They KNOW us. They've watched him grow and grow STRONG. If there's something to catch, they're going to catch it! Especially since he's participating in a case study about the disorder for the next 5 years. We figured if he has to be monitored, why not give a little extra blood so someone might learn something? Spencer could potential help someone else some day. Hero? I think so.

So now that you know the very BASICS about this Leukemia and why he goes and what he goes through at his clinic visits, I'm going to share some photos of my guy at the clinic today:

All snazzed up for his nurses. They are the most amazing people on the planet, as are his doctors. I know it doesn't matter what he wears but I feel like if he looks uber-cute, maybe he'll get a teeeeeeny bit more attention. It makes me feel better. I'm nuts.

It's a hard place to be. But the kids are TUFF.

Getting suspicious of what's going to go down with all these supplies. He punted an alcohol swab to the floor in protest.

Recovering in mommy's arms.

Trying to decide if he wants to pout or play. Like I've said, he bounces back. It takes me a little bit longer.

He chose his favorite links over any more tears *Bugs Bunny bandage on his luck getting the blood from his lucky arm vein this time*

"Yeah, I think I'll be OK. Now take me home, mama". 


  1. Glad to hear he's doing good. Looking good, to. Great pictures of the little guy!

  2. I love the layout....and these pics.

  3. not my kid, not my business, but I am really against circumcision and wanted to share that with's not medically necessary, is cosmetic, and is very very painful, and opens up the door for infections. i'll only ask that you let Spencer decide when he's older if he wants part of his manhood chopped off. He's doing so great. no need to shake it up, right? if you ever want info on the care of the uncircumsized penis, just ask. But you probably know all of that already.
    1. if it is intact, do not retract
    2. only clean what is seen
    i'll shut up now.
    love you all.

  4. I appreciate your opinion. We decided before Spencer was even born that he'd be circumcised but his medical situations postponed it. We still plan to have the procedure done while he's young enough not to remember (and it will be under general). I would've prefered it was done right after birth but that's not how it worked out. Thank you for your input and info but this is what we've decided for Spencer.