It's been a while since we've written, so it's time for an update. We've been super busy getting back into normal life, including church and the grocery store! I feel like next to being in nursery at church (which I think I might let him do after next winter), being in a grocery cart has got to be one of the dirtiest places. Andrew's doing really well overall. He's still walking with furniture (which he's been doing for 6 months), and I'd say he's back to his normal cheery self. Sleeping is still an issue sometimes, but I'm sure that'll improve with time and consistency that we couldn't get in the hospital. He eats like a champ now! He went from a yogurt-only diet to eating everything but veggies, which is a HUGE improvement! I could tell that he was feeling better a week or so ago when he started jabbering constantly, which he hadn't done since before the last round of chemo. For those who are interested, I'm still nursing him because technically he doesn't get adaptive immunity (B and T cell immunities) for at least 6 more months. This means that we'll start vaccinations then as well. Also, the chemo basically fried his gut, and breastmilk helps a lot with preventing Chrohn's and necrotizing enterocolitis in certain groups of newborns, so I personally believe it will help his gut heal substantially. I know it's not socially acceptable, but whatever.
His white count is a little below normal, and his ANC has taken a drop, but that is still within normal range. We've had him play with other kids, and it's been amazing! I love seeing him interact with kids his age. His hematocrit is also (barely) within normal range. The aspirate they did a little more than a week ago was negative. This is fantastic news!
Apart from the scars on his body, Andrew is indistinguishable from a normal 1-year old. He still has some physical, social, and psychological issues, but I'm sure those will fade with time. Some kids don't get much hair until they're 2, so I figure he fits right in. A lot of people have asked me what the long-term effects of treatment are. I didn't have the heart to look any up until near the end of our treatment, but I didn't learn anything new. I asked our oncologist what they were, and he said other than relapse or a secondary cancer (the VP-16 or Etoposide that he had can cause secondary cancers), the only other major side effect was heart damage from the anthracyclines he was on (daunorubicin and mitoxantrone). One nurse I had in the PICU said that her mom died from congestive heart failure from the doxorubicin she was given. That is always a worry. There is a certain percentage of kids (it's significant, but I can't remember the number) who acquire the defect during treatment and others for whom it takes longer. Like the potential for another battle with cancer, this one will just take time for the risk to pass.
I'm trying not to dread every clinic appointment, but I do. I think about Andrew relapsing all the time. I know the worry will fade with time, but I also know that if he relapses, things will be much worse. I've gone from thinking 'I can't believe we're home' to thinking 'I can't believe we went through all that' at least 100+ times a day. I try to have faith knowing that no matter what happens, everything will be fine. Heavenly Father has always taken care of us.
Every time I finished a semester in college, I got pretty sick within 2 weeks of the semester being over. I got sick with a cold last Thursday that put me out for the count for a few days (Andrew got it, but he seemed to be okay overall). It was bad enough that I was throwing up most of the night one night, and I couldn't help but think about all the cancer kids at Primary's who throw up all the time. Thank goodness for modern anti-emetics! I know, though, that those often just don't cut it and those kids feel like I did all the time. I was feeling pretty grateful that night.