I really thought that the magical 5 year mark would be more magical. It came and went and many times I thought about getting on here and sharing all about it. But, there are many feelings that suppressed my desire to share.
First, I hardly think about Erin's cancer anymore. Five years ago, if you'd told me, "someday you won't even think about cancer anymore," I would not have believed you. It feels liberating to be free from the constant worry. Most days I feel pretty normal - like it never happened. But, then there are moments when the little scars on my heart and spirit surface and I begin to worry. Mostly, I worry about the late effects that loom over our heads, as I wonder what all that chemotherapy has done to her body and mind in the long run.
Second, I have so many friends I've met over the last 5 1/2 years that haven't been as fortunate to walk away from treatment with a healthy child. It feels very vulgar of me to constantly share my feelings of gratitude and health when others are struggling deeply with the loss of a loved one.
For these two main reasons, I have kept silent. Tonight I was reminded why it is important for me to overcome my insecurities and continue to share this blessing from God, our hope in Him, and the beauty in our healthy daughter. I received an email tonight asking about our daughter from a parent who has looked all over the internet and only seen stories of sadness and loss. I did the exact thing when Erin was diagnosed. I'm sure most parents would do the same. You search and search for someone who has survived. There is a great need to know that someone else has succeeded and then you can place your faith in God knowing that your child can achieve that too.
We live in an unbalanced world where the bad is broadcasted louder than the good. The good is out there, but oftentimes it is resting in the hearts of those who have experienced it.
Here is our lovely AML survivor.
She is 8 years old now and growing into such an accomplished young woman. She has a heart full of love for others, a gift of music, and an imagination that can captivate her for hours. I attribute her extremely imaginative capacities to the hours she spent confined to a hospital room.
FIVE years in remission!
This is the magic spot. Cured? I guess that's what we could say. It's the point where our Oncologist says that if AML showed up in her blood again it would be considered a secondary cancer and treated as such, instead of it being considered a relapse.
Here we are! Well, we actually hit 5 years at the end of December 2015. We celebrated by taking the three oldest kids to Florida for a re-visit of some of our Make-A-Wish fun - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and LegoLand.
A few years ago we got off on our clinic appointments so this time around we just did blood work and a visit with our Pediatrician. Then, in December 2016 we will visit our Oncologist and do heart scans again. Me, being the Mom-oncologist that I have become, have done much research on childhood cancer and decided to ask our Pediatrician to do a Titer test to see where Erin's immunization antibodies are at. Erin received all her vaccinations up to 18 months and then was diagnosed with AML before she received her 2 year immunizations. After treatment she finished off her vaccinations, but I've been very concerned over the years about how effective those vaccinations were. Especially when we went to Disneyland a few weeks after that Measles outbreak in 2014. The five rounds of chemotherapy fully wiped out her immune system so it made sense in my mind that her antibodies would be wiped out too. Yet, after treatment we didn't re-do any of them, we just finished off the ones she hadn't previously received.
The Titer test results came back showing that she had antibodies only for Chicken Pox, nothing else. That shocked me. When Erin found out that she would have to get a load of shots to re-do her immunizations she was less than thrilled. She hid under the table in the Pediatrician's office screaming and bawling. She scared the heck out of my two and three year olds that happened to be tagging along. But, now Erin is up to date on immunizations! This is one BIG reason why I'm super pro-vaccination. Please vaccinate your kids to help out kids like Erin who have a weakened immune system.
Blood work looks beautiful, nothing to complain about.
Labs from 60 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 9.6
Previous Labs from 54 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 6.9 (normal 6.0-10.0)
Hematocrit 39.2 (normal 34.0-40.0)
Platelets 250 (normal 150-400)
ANC 1900 (normal 1500-8500)