Highlight: Joseph’s neutrophil count was high enough to begin the delayed intensification block of treatment.
Highlight: Joseph coped very well with fasting and his lumbar puncture.
Prayer request: that Joseph may continue to have grace and protection during this intense phase of treatment.
Yesterday (Monday) was the first day of delayed intensification for Joseph. He had to fast for most of the day and have a lumbar puncture for chemo treatment of his spine. This procedure requires a consent form be signed by a parent and I was not able to go with Joseph to the hospital. So a friend came to look after the older boys and then Kate and Ezra met Marie and Joseph at the hospital. It was very nice for Kate to meet all of Joseph’s friends at the hospital, the medical staff who have been caring for him. However, for Joseph it was a very different time as Ezra the 4 month old was getting a lot of attention.
Joseph’s blood test was very good, with his neutrophil count just where the doctors would like it to be for the start of this treatment block. After Joseph’s review by the doctor, Marie bundled Joseph up for a long walk in the park. Soon after she started, Joseph fell asleep in the stroller and did not wake up until she brought him up to the waiting area for the lumbar puncture. Once awake he played with toys in the waiting room very contentedly until he was called in for his treatment. After treatment he woke up in the recovery area and was very happy to have some crackers and juice. It was then the only real problem of the day occurred, Joseph so liked the juice and crackers he did not want to leave the recovery area. However, he eventually was ready to go home. Upon arrival he jumped into playing with his brothers and, as you can see in the picture, a bit of baking as well.
Yesterday there were children who were struggling with their time of fasting and others who did not seem to be tolerating their treatment that well. We were reminded again that this type of day – one where Joseph sleeps through his time of fasting and then has a treatment without adverse side effects, is due to grace poured out on him by God. Thank you for praying.
On Wednesday Joseph will receive chemotherapy (vincristine) and begin 7 days of steroids. On Friday he will receive an IV drip of a chemo drug which he has not yet had, plus another chemo drug by intramuscular injection. Please continue to pray for grace and protection for Joseph throughout these weeks of intensive treatment.
The whole purpose of this time of intense treatment is to root out any remaining leukemia cells in Joseph’s body. Though Joseph is in remission now, experience has taught the doctors that if they stopped his treatment today his leukemia would return and would be all but untreatable. They have to keep putting pressure on those few leukemia cells still hiding in various parts of his body so that they cannot get a foothold again. At the same time they have to allow his body to develop robust and healthy bone marrow that will be able to resist any future attempt by leukemia to return.
This process of putting out the bad and putting on the good looks so much like what Jesus taught about sin – that it was not enough just to try to get rid of sin but it needs to be replaced by the Holy Spirit – that if we only clean up our lives on our own we are really just hollow and empty waiting to be filled by something. If we refuse to invite God in it will be filled again by something else and just like cancer it will be even worse than it was to start with.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, I will return to my house from which I came. And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first…” Matthew 12:43 -45