Gearing up for the Big One

Max's final chemo treatment is just around the corner! Chemo #7 is tentatively scheduled to start April 11 (pending his blood counts, as usual).

Max will undergo a very high dose of chemo drugs over the first four days of his stay. This chemo is designed to eliminate all of his existing bone marrow to make sure there are no remaining tumor cells. He will be very sick, exhausted, and will be left with no immune system. His bone marrow will be gone and his body will have no way of creating red blood cells, platelets, or white blood cells (they all come from your marrow).

Three days after the chemo he will receive his stemcell tranplant, which will be kind of like a small blood transfusion, except he will be receiving purged (tumor cells removed) stemcells that were harvested from him in December.
The stemcells will "magically" regrow his bone marrow. I say magically because that's how the doctor explained it to us; "...we don't know how stemcells do what they do, but we know they will regrow the marrow."

Max will be in isolation for a period of up to three weeks or longer (pending his recovery based on his blood counts). He will be in the hospital for up to 6 weeks and will be in an isolation mode for up to 100 days at home (no bday parties, no indoor playareas, no Disneyland type trips) until his body fully recovers. (We made a weekend trip to Disneyland March 12 with Max and Hannah's cousins, Alaina and Patrick, and had a lot of fun! see pics below.)

Andy & I have a Transplant Conference on Thursday with Max's oncologist, the transplant coordination nurse and one of the hem/onc social workers. We'll learn more about the drugs, the infusion, risks, etc.

Max & Daddy on the Rocket Ride!

Hannah & Max visit Toontown.

Milk at Powerhouse Park, Del Mar.

More Good News

After speaking with Max's Oncologist, Dr. Roberts, we have learned more about his MRI, bone marrow and bonescan tests. (Max's cancer, neuroblastoma, is a soft tissue tumor in his upper chest/neck area, bone cancer, and bone marrow cancer.)

#1-his bone marrow showed no tumor cells.
#2-the MRI showed a significant decrease in the tumor size.
#3-Max was injected with radioactive isotopes for his bonescan which adhere to cancer cells. The tumor did not "light-up"... nothing stuck to it. Max's doctor and the surgeon determined that the tumor was dead and they would not attempt to remove it or do a biopsy on it (both because they believe it is dead and surgery would still be invasive and would cause delay of the final chemo/stemcell transplant).


Chemo #6 wrap

Hey folks, although this post is dated on the day that Max left the hospital from his sixth round of chemo, its obviously been written and posted at a much later date (3/29). Max's chemo went exceedingly well and he was home on Thursday (3/10) night as scheduled and hoped-for. Since then, he's been doing well, with the exception of the situation that I'll address in a later blog (he got an infection and had to be checked in to the hospital). That's all for now. Melissa and I will try to be more timely in our posts. Somehow March just got away from us both!


Chemo round #6

Max was able to check in today (Monday 3/7). He was actually excited, as he is every time he gets to check in to the hospital. This time around, Max has a roomie, 6 year old Noah who lives near our neighborhood and who we just read about in our community newspaper, the Carmel Valley News. Max is doing well, as always and should be out Thursday.


Good MRI News

Max had an MRI and a bone marrow aspiration last week. His MRI showed a significant decrease in size of the tumor and his bone marrow shows no malignancies! We're very happy with the news, but we're also waiting to have a consultation with his oncologist to find out what this all means in terms of his treatment (and his long-term prognosis).

Even with cancer, the pure "joi de vivre" remains.