Friday, October 3, 2014

Last Day of Chemo

It was almost a month ago now that Charlotte had her "last" chemo. She has been receiving weekly chemotherapy for her brainstem and spinal cord tumor for two years now.  The tumor has been stable for one year, so we decided that it was time to take Charlotte off of treatment.  For her last chemo, our friends, Kellie and Grace, came along, and Kellie took all these lovely pictures for us.

 So here is a day in the life:

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When the nurse assistant showed us to our room, we found the door decorated with streamers and with the poster: complete with "Frozen" and "Barney" figures!  These folks know my Charlotte so well.  I cried.

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The first thing to do is to don our masks in order to access Charlotte's port.  She is so brave.  She doesn't cry, but only sings us songs as they poke her with a big needle each week (the numbing cream helps).

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All done!  See that little pink pig?  She received it the previous week from the girls in the radiology department after being a rockstar during a CT scan.  I admit: I was not too thrilled to have a gold-hoofed pig join the ever-increasing stuffed animal farm we seem to run.  But Charlotte loves the darn thing so much that she even sleeps with it!  It fits so perfectly right under her little arm that it really grew on me so quickly.  In case you were wondering, we named her "Goldie."

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Then it was time for a wardrobe change.

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That does not usually happen during a chemo day.

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Here's the story: a few months ago, the kids and I passed by a yard sale going on just down the street from our old home.  And hanging from the tree, wouldn't you know it, a little Indian dress just in Charlotte's size!  Well, Charlotte's oncologist is of Indian origin, and he loves Charlotte, so I thought he might find it fun if she showed up for chemo in this little dress.  Surprise!

Needless to say, he loved it.  But the dress (called a "pavadai") didn't quite fit her (too small) and he said that there is also all this jewelry that goes with it and he is visiting family in India this summer so why doesn't he get her one to fit and with all the accessories to boot?  Now, how could I turn that down?  I couldn't.

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So Dr. and Mrs. G did a little shopping for Charlotte, half-way across the world in India!  And now doesn't she look beautiful, all dolled up?!

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I admit: I think she's so funny!


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Look at her pretty necklace!


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Charlotte must have cracked a joke here, too.


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Next, while waiting for Charlotte's labwork to process and for her chemo to be drawn up, we headed out for an ultrasound and to deliver cookies to thank all our friends.  Above is our Child Life Specialist, Katie.  She's just the best.  And below is one of the pharmacists.  (One time, they invited us in to the pharmacy for a tour.  I got all gowned up and they took me back to where they make the chemo.  You just would not believe all that goes into that!  They follow about a hundred different safety precautions.  It's amazing.  We are so grateful that they are so careful.)

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The lady in the above picture works in the lab and is a fellow quilter!  I always peek in to see if she's there; we swap quilt pictures and stories when we run into each other.  Fun!


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Marian starts to look a little rough when it's well past her naptime.  But this is the yard sale pavadai that she's wearing!  See!  Isn't it just gorgeous?!  I tell ya: that $4 purchase has yielded the best return I've ever seen.  



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Then it's time for the actual chemo infusion.  It only took a minute to push the drug into her port.  

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And more party!  Here the nurses came in singing, "Happy Last Chemo to you" to the tune of "Happy Birthday."  It was so sweet.  And they gave Charlotte this doll (which Marian claimed as her own once home, but Charlotte has been too preoccupied with Goldie to mind).

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Here we are with (most but not all of) our favorite nurses. It is so hard to put into words how much we love her nurses and doctor.  Do I like that Charlotte has cancer?  Not at all.  But am I so grateful that we have the privilege of knowing these wonderful people?  Absolutely.  This might be what Ann Voskamp calls "the ugly beautiful" of life.  We must try to see beauty in all things.  Even in cancer.

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And Elyse and Henry were invited to choose a toy, too, because it's as they say: cancer affects the whole family.

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We think she looks like such a princess here.

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Charlotte loves Dr. G so much.


Raising funds for research is so important to me because while we called this "Charlotte's last chemo" it is most likely her "last" just for now.  She still has her tumor, and this type of tumor will typically progress.  So we will keep scanning her periodically and will put her back on therapy if/when her tumor progresses.  And that's why I want to help raise funds and support research initiatives that are pediatric specific.  The chemotherapy that Charlotte was most recently on might not work the next time her tumor grows.  There will most likely always be a need for more money because there will most likely always be a need for more therapies because of the nature of these tumors; namely: they keep changing.

So thank you for all of your support: in prayers, words of encouragement, quilt donations, and cold hard cash for those quilts.  :)  Charlotte is nearly four-years old and a delight to us.  We are constantly in awe of the grace of her growth and of her life and are thankful to God for these good gifts.


8 comments:

  1. You had me all choked up with this post. Charlotte is such a beautiful, brave little girl. I will pray for you and your family today. xoxo

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  2. Beautiful: Charlotte, her wonderful medical team, and you and your love, determination, and hard work! xo

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  3. Wow Lauren, it's hard to type when I'm crying but what a fabulous group of people all working together with you and your family to help Charlotte. You are such an awesome Mum - Chris x

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  4. Yep, this pulled at my heart strings too! Hugs and best wishes of joy to you all! Thanks for sharing :)

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  5. love love love, all the pictures, everyone is looking so big , happy last day of chemo!!!

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  6. It is so beautiful to see the evidences of God's meticulous care for your dear family! Thank you for your faithful clinging to the hope of the gospel over these past 4 years. It has been such a deep encouragement to me. We are praying for you as you walk through the coming days. He has been faithful and will continue to be faithful. I love you guys! (And you are still such a beautiful woman! Your smile is so radiant!) - Love, Cindy

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  7. Charlotte looks like such a sweetie! I hope this is the first of many happy, happy days for you all. Thanks for sharing this special day with us.

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  8. This brought me to tears, so happy and beautiful but at the same time so sad that she even has to go through chemo in the 1st place. I'll keep hoping and praying that a cure is found.

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