I promised myself when Gunner was diagnosed that I would keep up with his journey on the blog. I had no idea how hard that would be. Most days I’m too tired to process a thought let alone compose a sentence. I’m a pro at compartmentalizing my feelings. To write about his journey, opens the flood gate of emotions I have hidden away. I know we have brighter days ahead and someday I will look back on this post and smile knowing Gunner victoriously defeated cancer.
So let me try to catch you up a bit on Gunner’s journey. On day 29 he had a lumbar punture to check his bone marrow for leukemia cells. As I started in my last post about Gunner’s progress, a clear MRD (Minimal residual disease) would signify that chemo was successful and all leukemia in Gunner’s body have been destroyed placing him in remission. I thought we would find out the results several hours after the procedure. His oncologist informed me it would take 10 days to get the results. I was crushed to hear I would have to wait that long. I have no patience especially when my son’s health and treatment plan for the next 3 years hung in the balance. I quickly reminded myself that many other parents are on a journey with their heroes fighting cancer that have no options. We busied ourselves around the house making preparations for his sister’s to return to school, enjoyed a visit from my best friend from Ohio, and spent the last few days of summer together as a family.
During this time Gunner developed a bit of a cough. Early one morning I called his oncologist to speak to the nurse to get permission to give Gunner some over the counter meds. Shortly after we got off the phone, our home phone rang again. Thinking it was the nurse calling back, I quickly answered and was happy to hear Dr. Wells on the other end. He said,” Hey I’m calling to check on Gunner and his cough, but most importantly to let you know his MRD came back at 0. He is in remission and we can proceed down the standard risk treatment protocol.” My eyes welled up with tears and began to flow down my face like a waterfall. The flood gate of emotion was enormous. I told Gunner when I got off the phone. We hugged and danced around the living room. I thought for a second I could wait the 20 minutes until Gunner’s dad got home from work to share the great news with him in person, then I quickly realized that was impossible because I was bursting at the seams with excitement. I called him on his cell phone and his daddy started crying at work on the rocket test stand. What can make a big burly man cry? The words that his son’s cancer is in remission. We celebrated that night with a fun family dinner at Gunner’s favorite restaurant. We continue to have faith and know that Gunner will kick leukemia’s butt.
Why does Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Require 3 Years of Chemo?
The question I get asked the most is, Why does Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Require 3 Years of Chemo? The answer is because we have to destroy Gunner’s immune system with chemo to completely rebuild his immune system so his body doesn’t think leukemia cells are ok to make like they did before. Through research it has shown if you do multiple types of chemo in a certain sequence, then the likelihood of relapse is only 4%. Leukemia cells are tricky and like to hide in areas of the body protected by bone so we have to have the chemo treatments for three years to ensure his body remains cancer free. At this point, three years seems like an eternity but we have no other choice and will do whatever is necessary for Gunner to live and grow into a healthy young adult!
We appreciate your love, prayers, and support as Gunner battles to kick leukemia’s butt!