Finishing Chemo and Moving On to…Stem Cell Transplant

19 Sep

I missed yesterday’s post, so you get two photos in one post this time!

Side Note: I haven’t updated much on myself lately, but I’m in the third trimester (30 weeks) now with our little bonus baby. It’s been eight years since I carried a baby this long (having Abby at 24 weeks meant I never got very big) so after a long week, I needed to rest instead of blog. Forget “need,” the amount of braxton hicks I was having, I couldn’t do much more than drink water and go to sleep early!

The baby’s doing great, he’s measuring around the 90th percentile and is very active. I have to deliver at 37 weeks no matter what because of the emergency classical c-section I had with Abby, so this experience is going so fast. I wish I could have a normal vaginal delivery and quick recovery like with Jackson, but whatever is best for the both of us, that’s what I want. Maybe they’ll give me a little tummy tuck when they’re in there 🙂

Back to our Jackson’s Journey photos:

Photo 11.

We made it through the last infusion of Cisplatin – and round 5 of chemo! Just one more round left before we headed into stem cell transplant.

Jackson was sent home on a steriod, two types of nausea meds, an antacid, an antibiotic, GCSF shots and IV fluids. I challenge anyone to get a 17-month old to take nasty tasting oral medicine MULTIPLE times a day when you’ve just completed high dose chemotherapy. You’ll do just about anything to get the medicine in and stay in.

Jackson was a fan of “the chaser” – take a little bit of medicine then drink some sweet tea or juice…eat a skittle…suck on a sour cream and onion chip…you name it, we tried it. The more calories in the chaser, the better. He hadn’t gained any weight since diagnosis, which typically was a ripe time for growth in a normal toddler, and his appetite was touch and go. Could you blame him, though?

In this photo, Jackson was finishing up a dose and we’d JUST discovered that a Hershey’s Kiss was the BEST chaser!


Gosh, he really was starting to look like he was on chemo – it’s the chemo eyes. It’s so funny now, looking back on these photos, because at the time our whole family would say, you can’t even tell he’s sick, he looks perfectly healthy. Love is blind, isn’t it? Seeing this picture now, I’m sure he was a day or two away from another transfusion and long clinic day.


Photo 12.

See that little red frozen bag? That’s Jackson’s cancer-free stem cells we harvested months earlier.

He was OFFICIALLY DONE with chemo and we had been “resting” for a couple days gearing up to transplant day – August 5, 2009. The chemo Jackson had just received in the last week was working to completely wipe any microscopic cancer cell out, so that only giving him his own “baby” white blood cells back would help him recover.

I always thought transplants were done in pristine white operating rooms with bright lights. Nope! Jackson’s stem cells came up in a cardboard Red Cross box, which we actually saw coming off the 8th floor elevator while taking a (masked) walk. There was a machine set up in our room that gave the bag a warm bath to thaw the cells to the correct temperature and the nurses hooked Jackson up. The infusion was pumped very quickly through his CVL. We played cars on the bed and the Child Life specialist came in with a stuffed animal for Jackson to have. The room smelled very weirdly of creamed corn. Jackson’s blood pressure went up just a little.

And then…it was over. All that, and it was over.

As Jackson started to nap in his hospital bed, I ran out to the waiting room to give an update. Gathered there were 20 family and friends, all wearing the matching Jackson’s Entourage t-shirts that Ev and I had on in this picture.

Today, thanks to my laundering skills and Jackson’s growth over the past six years, he fits into my blue Entourage shirt. And it makes my heart happy.

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