Watching Gunner fight childhood leukemia evokes so many emotions. I promised to share his journey but haven’t wrote about his progress in quite a while. The truth is, it’s very difficult to put my thoughts and feelings into words. If I keep moving, pushing forward, just one more day of chemo… I’m so caught up in this whirlwind and able to push the emotions away. When I force myself to stop and think of all our sweet boy as endured. I get so angry.
Why? He’s so sweet, innocent, and all that’s good in my world.
Then, I’m filled with a wave of guilt. Gunner isn’t the only child battling cancer and he has a good prognosis. Three and a half years of chemo daily but there are kids with parents who aren’t that lucky or worse yet…. their angels are already dancing in heaven.
This past week we traveled to Austin for surgery. We have to be up and on the road by 5:30 am for the 90 mile drive to the cancer center for his 7:30am appointment. Since diagnosis, he stands next to “his bear” for a picture. He’s grown so much in the past 2 years since his childhood leukemia diagnosis. They warned chemo might inhibit his growth, thankfully that hasn’t been the case.
We were at the clinic to check his blood counts, get antibiotics, and chemo through his port. Then we transfer to the hospital. Every 3 months he gets put under anesthesia to have chemo injected in his spine. Watching his eyes roll up in his head as the medicine puts him to sleep is one of the hardest things to see. EVER. But, it’s comforting to him when I walked back to the operating room with him. So I do it. The scary part of childhood leukemia is the bad “leukemia” cells like to hide in bony areas of the body… in the spine, and brain. Chemo injected into his spine is to directly target any cells in that area and more importantly to prevent my biggest fear. RELAPSE.
The 20 minute procedure seems like a million years when I’m alone in the surgery waiting area. Gunner’s dad has to stay home(90 miles away) to get our girls back and forth to school. We have no family in the area to help with the kids and Texas laws about school attendance is insane. (I won’t even go there because that is a sore subject with me.)
After he wakes up from anesthesia, they de-access (remove the needle) his port and we start the 90 mile drive home. We usually arrive home around 4PM. Almost a full 12 hours later. Gunner usually is still groggy from surgery and sleeps the whole way home. That drive gives me to much time to think. I wonder what Gunner thinks about as we drive. Is he angry at me for taking him to get poison put in his body that will undoubtedly make him feel horrible for days? My mind doesn’t stop, the thoughts are never-ending. It’s exhausting and I feel like I’ve run a marathon. It’s amazing how stress can take such a toll on the body.
Gunner felt a little tired and sick to his stomach on Thursday. His class was having their Valentine’s Day party and he was determined not to miss the celebration. So he got dressed, grabbed his jacket, and was ready to go. He took Skittles Valentines for his friends at school.
For 5 days after his surgery, Gunner takes steroids twice daily. The steroids are so important because they force any immature leukemia cells out of his bone marrow so they chemo can destroy them. Steroids are essential in his treatment plan but they make him feel horrible. He has a ravenous appetite for all kinds of food but nothing tastes good and he quickly gets frustrated then refuses to eat. He goes from hot to cold, then back to hot again in a matter of minutes. During this time his face turns bright red as if he’s got a sunburn. He gets very emotional and clingy. He will come find me if we’ve been apart for more then 5 minutes. He quickly reminds me while I’m in the shower that I’m taking to long and has a short temper. Since Friday, his stomach has been so upset that multiple medicines for nausea aren’t helping at all. We just finished his last dose of steroids this morning so I’m hoping he will start feeling better. Only 556 days of chemo more to go…..
Read More of Gunner’s Leukemia Battle:
Our 7 Year Old Has Been Diagnosed With Leukemia