Monday, August 31, 2009

So far so good. No nausea.

Tanner had melphalan yesterday and the last time it was given to him, he had a couple of really bad days afterwards with nausea and vomiting.

Last night I gave him a lorazepam (which is a nerve pill that also helps with nausea) at bed time and this morning he took a compazene and so far he hasn't been sick to his stomach at all today. Just really tired (which the nurses tell us is normal and will actually get worse over the next week before it gets better). I don't know if it's the fact that we have taken precautions to give him the extra nausea medicine here at the apartment or if the doctor might have added additional nausea medicine to what they give him at the hospital since they know he had a bad time during his first round of chemo. Whatever the difference is, we are both relieved that he's not nauseated today.

His blood pressure was really low so they added fluids to his drips today and have reiterated how very important it is for him to drink lots of fluids. Unfortunately, many of the drinks I put before him sit in the glass and just melt before he gets them down. I will have to see what we can do to work on that.

The pharmacist made a mistake when prescribing the companion medications that go along with the chemo and didn't give him enough to make it through Monday so they have decided to go ahead and move up his stem cell transplant to tomorrow morning. They don't want him to go two days without medication before the transplant. So, the moment has arrived and Tanner will have the transplant at ten in the morning! Yea!

After the transplant, he will go to the hospital every day and will have one growth factor shot a day so that his body will start making new cells to replace all the cells that were destroyed with the chemo. The stem cell transplant along with these new cells, should give him a cancer free system!!

His blood count will continue to drop over the next week to ten days then will start the climb back up over the week or two following that. He has it in his head that he's going to recover quicker than anyone they've ever seen before and will get to go home within two weeks.

He's a funny boy and has done terrifically well during this whole procedure. He's just so ready to come home -- even if it's just for a few weeks...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our cousins, Kathy and Bobby, came up from Texas yesterday and cooked Tanner tacos for lunch and hung out at the apartment for a few hours - and watched the Animal Channel with us. The tacos were really good and it was great getting to spend some time with them, It was a nice break for Tanner and I both to get to spend some time with them yesterday. When Tanner gets a little better and we get back to Texas, we definitely will have to go out to the lakehouse and hang out on their deck. Those are always fun times and Tanner enjoys just sitting on the deck and visiting with the family.

We are at the hospital right now while Tanner is getting his first bag of chemo. The nurse is waiting on his lab work to get back so that she can order his melphalan. We can't keep Tanner awake so that he can munch on the ice. You should see the looks I get when I try to wake him up to eat the ice. LOL!

The nurse assures me that she will tell me when the lab work comes back. After that, she can place the order for the melphalan and that will give us enough time before she starts the drip so that we can try to get an hour with Tanner eating plenty of ice before it starts. She said that the mouth sores are truly horrible and often patients just have to sit with drool running out of their mouths into a towel because they can't swallow - and much of the time end up in the hospital.

We are going to give him a little while to sleep while these first meds run and then we are going to wake him up and convince him of the importance of eating the ice for the next few hours. He will need to eat it for about an hour before it begins, while the melphalan is running, and then for an hour after they get through. It's going to be fun to get that much ice down him in the mood he is in, but I'm sure we can make him see how important it is.

He will most likely be pretty sick tomorrow (since the day after melphalan was when he started throwing up before) and for the next while. She said his system will continue to drop for a week to ten days after the last chemo treatment (tomorrow) and then he will start to build back up.

If we can just get through the next two weeks, hopefully, we will get to come home for a while. Wouldn't that be great?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It is Saturday morning and once again we are at the hospital and Tanner is having his chemo treatment. They gave us some mouthwash for him to use every day in the morning, after every meal, and before bed to help prevent getting the sores in his mouth. I hope it helps.

He had cheese toast before we left the apartment this morning along with all of his pills. Then when we got to the hospital, he wanted chicken noodle soup - at 8:30 a.m.! He kills me with the things he can eat first thing in the morning.

Our cousins Kathy and Bobby have come up from Texas and we are both excited to see them. They want to go to the grocery store and buy something to fix Tanner for lunch at the apartment. Tanner told me to tell them he wants tacos! Since he isnt't neutropenic at this time that should be okay.

They have told us that tomorrow they are going to give him melphalan which is the medicine that made him so sick during the first round of chemo. It is a medicine that can often make you sick and causes cold sores. He has to be sure and eat lots of ice before during and after the treatment so that it will constrict his blood vessels in his mouth to help prevent the cold sores. It caused him lots of nausea and vomitting last time but he didn't get any of the sores, so I hope he doesn't again this time either.

We talked to a friend we have made here who had his stem cell transplant a couple of days ago about how it went and he said it was really anti-climatic. He said you go through all these treatments and sickness all building up for the stem cell transplant and they hang the bag and it runs into you for about ten minutes and then you just sit there a couple of hours while they monitor you and it's done.

From what I understand, after the stem cell transplant on Wednesday, they will start giving him the growth factor shots again so that his body will start creating new cells once again and his system will climb back up and then we can see what Dr. Barlogie says the next step is.

Hopefully, it will be getting to go home for a while!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I tell you, taking ten steroid pills in the morning sure makes Tanner feel bad. He seems almost agressive. Everything gets on his nerves -the other drivers, people talking to him, just about everything for about half of the day.

He really works to try and control it. By the time we left the hospital today, he was telling me how much he hates taking "Dex" (the steroids) and you could see the blood vessel in his temple just throbbing. It makes his heart beat really strong in his chest and he doesn't like the feeling at all.

We got back to the apartment and he layed down on the couch and slept for about three hours. I finally had to wake him up so that he could take his lunch time pills. He hates all the pills and I have to continually remind him that they are helping him become well. The one he hates the worst is the one that dissolves in his mouth that helps prevent thrush. I told him that he really doesn't want to have thrush on top of everything else.

After I woke him up, he wanted a baked potato followed by a bowl of vegetable soup. I went to the drug store just a while ago to buy a thermometer and I picked up some vanilla ice cream and root beer so he can have a float here in a while.

His favorite thing lately has been his IPOD. He seems to have those ear phones on his head night and day. When I went in this morning to get him up, the earphones were still on his head and that's how he goes through his daily chemo treatments. Maybe he just wants to tune his mom - and the nurses - out for a while!!

His face is really flushed and red but he actually seems to feel a little better now that he's been up for a while. We are scheduled to go back to the hospital for Tanner's chemo treatments at 8:00 a.m. through the weekend so it will be just like during the week. No break for Tanner or his mom!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You can tell that the chemo is beginning to catch up with Tanner. He has not been in the best of moods today and has been pretty quiet.

He played X-Box 360 for a while and then plugged in his I-POD and has just been lying on the couch most of the afternoon. Right now he is asleep.

The PA told us today that he's doing well but that he will most likely bottom out here in about a week.

She said that his mucous lining will become inflamed and that he will have a sore throat and an irritated esophagus (and possibly sores in his mouth) and might not want to eat much when things start getting rough for him.

She says that all of this is normal and is to be expected before he starts building his way back up. We will be at the hospital for a little longer tomorrow because his red blood count is getting low and they are going to have to add some other drips onto his chemo tomorrow.

I went to the grocery store this afternoon and bought some things so that I can make soups and some meals in the crockpot. I know that soon Tanner will get to a point where he won't feel like getting out much and I want to have things on hand that we can eat here at the apartment - and also so that I won't have to leave him.

All in all, it was a fairly quiet day and he's doing pretty good. I'm glad that he's getting some rest - which is good for him.

Some of the other patients that we have come to know during our first month of treatment have also moved up to 7C so Tanner has others that he can still talk to. I think it helps him (and me) to have others who are moving along at about the same pace as he is that we can talk to as we move down this next phase. He's also meeting new people and one of the men who ended up in the room with us today told him that "Bart" (Dr. Barlogie) had told him about Tanner and that they were personal friends and that he wanted Tanner to know that he was going to be fine and that Dr. Barlogie was telling him how well Tanner was doing. Everywhere he goes at UAMC, people recognize Tanner as the "young" myeloma patient and always have kind things to say to him. I think he inspires everyone he meets here at the myeloma clinic. I know he inspires me every day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It has been another long day. We left about 7:15 a.m. to head to the hospital to start Tanner's next round of chemo and didn't leave there until after 3:00 p.m. They hung a bottle of chemo meds this morning that took about four hours to run and then we waited an hour for them to bring in some other meds and they ran for another hour - and in the meantime they hooked him back up on the bag of chemo meds that he just carries with him overnight. Looks like he's going to get a LOT of medicine this go around.

His hair was driving him crazy and even as short as it was, it was falling out all over his t-shirt. After we left the hospital and stopped for lunch, he saw a Sports Clips and wanted to go in and have them buzz the rest of the hair off.

They don't "shave" heads at Sports Clips but they buzzed it right down to his skull then put him under the water and really worked the scalp and most of the rest of the hair came out. He told me I could shave the rest off of his head when we got back to the apartment and I told him Dr. Barlogie would get me if I cut his head and he got an infection.

I'm a little nervous about how sick he might get taking this many medications on this round of chemo. Today, he would do really well for a while, and then he would get pale and you can tell he just feels wiped out.

I just gave him his "evening" handful of pills and he told me he was really tired of all the pills. I told him I was sorry but they are necessary to his recovery. I think the one he hates the most is one he has to put in his mouth and let dissolve - and unfortunately that's the one he has to take four times a day.

We go back to 7C again at 8:00 a.m. in the morning. The nurse said we shouldn't have to be there so long tomorrow since they only have to hang two bags of medicine. Each one should take about an hour to run. That most likely means, at a minimum, we will be there three hours.

The girls at Great Clips were very sweet to Tanner and cut his hair, massaged his scalp, and gave him a shoulder massage. They said he needed a little pampering! I think he really enjoyed it!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great news today! Dr. Barlogie says that Tanner's bone marrow biopsy came back normal and that there are no longer any cancer cells evident in the marrow!! He also said the other tests indicated that the lesions are greatly reduced!! There are just no words adequate to express this mom's feelings right now - and I know that the rest of the family is so excited by this news. Trevor called when we got back to the apartment and we were able to tell him and he was so relieved and excited. I know that he worries terribly about his brother while we are so far away.

We are being moved to "7C" over at the hospital and will have to be there a little before 8:00 a.m. in the morning to begin the next round of chemotherapy. He will undergo chemo until next Monday. Tuesday he will have a day of rest and then next Wednesday they will do the stem cell transplant and after that, his counts will drop really low and he won't have any immunities again for a while. They will closely monitor him until his numbers all come back up (probably all together it will take about a month) and after that he should be able to go back home to Texas for a while.

Tanner told Dr. Barlogie he would ask what comes next after this but he knew that it would depend on how he does and how he responds to the treatment. Dr. Barlogie told him yes, it would be a "saga'.

Depending on how things go, they say that he might only have to undergo one stem cell transplant. It will just depend on how everything turns out after this round of chemo and transplant.

Dr. Barlogie is such a caring physician. I know that he is very busy and puts in some extremely long days, but you can tell that he genuinely cares about his patients. He hugged me and Tanner both as he was leaving the exam room today.

I talked to two of the ladies from his office about the insurance and how they are still denying much of the procedures as "experimental". Sandra, the insurance lady at the doctor's office, said that now that Dr. Barlogie has decided to go with the "BEAM" transplant and not the "M-VDP Pace" transplant (which Tanner's insurance denied) they might reconsider and will cover the procedure. She said that no matter what we will continue to pursue coverage and submit appeals. In the meantime, they had me sign another form taking financial responsibility. LOL. I told her it didn't matter, I would sign whatever they needed me to sign. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are so fortunate to be here at this facility so that Tanner can get the care that he needs.

One of the other ladies at the doctor's office who came in to talk to me told me not to stress too much over the insurance. She said they go through things like this all the time and that Dr. Barlogie always gives the patient the treatment they need, regardless of coverage.

We got to the infusion clinic for Tanner's lab work at 8:30 a.m. and then went and had breakfast at one of the hospital cafe's with Loren and John, a very nice couple from Virginia, who are here while he undergos treatment for Myeloma. We sat and talked for quite a while and then went to see Dr. Balogie at noon. We ended up being at the doctor's office HOURS and didn't get back to the apartment until 7:00 p.m.

We saw the doctor right away but then you have to wait for the RN to come in to talk to you and that took quite a while. When she finally came in at about 3:00 p.m., Tanner told her he was so hungry that his head was hurting. She told me we could go back over to the hospital and have a sandwich and pick up a presciption and then come back to the office. It ended up being an all day appointment. But you know what, after the news we got, it doesn't even matter. It was a great day!

When we got back to the doctor's office to talk to the nurse, Marti, she went over all the new instructions and medications with me and then she handed me a check for $1000 made payable to "Robert T Walker". I asked her what that was for and she said it was from one of the other patients. I asked her who and she said it was just another patient who met us while Tanner was undergoing all of his tests and that he just touched their hearts and they asked her to give us the money.

Marti and I both just sat there in that room and cried when she handed me the check. I mean, my goodness, this is $1000 from someone that Tanner met in while in a waiting room since we got here to Arkansas and we aren't even sure who it is. We just know that the check says they are from Hot Springs. I don't begin to have the talent to describe how we felt - how we feel.

The kindness and generosity that we have experienced from everyone since Tanner found out he has cancer has been truly overwhelming. Our lives will be forever changed.

Can you imagine? Truly, can you imagine?

Monday, August 24, 2009

We went over to the hospital this morning for the bone marrow aspiration and the RN told us that when a patient is about to undergo their stem cell transplant, they have to come over for bone marrow aspirations at least two times right before the proceduer is done.

Today was the regular bone marrow aspiration and it was done by a young man named Cameron who did a very good job and didn't hurt Tanner much at all. He said he got a good draw with LOTS of spicules! YEA!! They showed us the bone and blood that was drawn from Tanner's back and you could see lots and lots of white spicules.

Cameron said that the next aspiration will be for the gene array, which is what Dr. Barlogie uses to map out Tanner's treatment. If it goes as well as today, that will be a very good thing!

Knowing that his transplant and chemotherapy is coming up later this week, Tanner wanted to go, once again, for mexican food. I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I'm really getting tired of mexican food. LOL! Funny coming from a woman who once went on vacation in San Antonio and ate mexican food for four days straight!! But seriously, knowing that Tanner is about to get pretty weak from the treatment that is coming in his near future, I wanted to take him to eat whatever he wanted today.

I need to file some of my paperwork away but wanted to take a moment and go ahead and update about how the bone marrow aspiration went this morning. I'd better get back to work now before Burce gets me... (Just kidding!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sorry for the delay in getting Tanner's update posted today. I had to finish posting commissions for my work and the silly Internet connection through the cable has been "intermittent" today. Very frustrating...

Tanner had a good time with the girls at the movies last night and really liked Inglorious Basterds. Not a commentary on anyone, but the name of the movie that they went to see. He says that it was really funny.

Today we went to see District 9 and he REALLY liked that movie. Knowing that if the Stem Cell Transplant is performed this week, he won't be able to be around very many people for a while, we went to lunch with my aunt and her family and then went to the movies.

Tomorrow morning he has an appointment at 7:45 a.m. for another bone marrow aspiration. I think I'm dreading it even more than Tanner. He has it in his mind that he can make them take the draws from his left side (since it is less painful than drawing from the right side) but I'm afraid they are going to make him take it from the right since they drew from the left last time - and didn't get very many spicules. In fact, I think the only reason he is having to do another aspiration at this time, is because they didn't get enough spicules last time. The RN who performed the procedure told us he thought the reason he didn't have very many spicules was because he had so many aspirations performed in such a short time -- and now here we go again.

Las night, by the time the movie was over and he got back to my aunt's house, his hair was hurting him pretty badly. He was so uncomfortable, he couldn't even stand to wear his hat. We got back to the apartment and got the clippers out and went ahead and buzzed his head. He felt better after we got the hair off and said that it had actually felt painful; like the hair really needed to come off.

We are just waiting now for the little bit of hair that is left to come on off. Luckily, Tanner looks good with or without hair - and looks good in hats and bandanna's!

Thanks to you all for your comments on Tanner's post yesterday. He loves reading your comments and your support really makes him feel better. Thank you all!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We woke up this morning and started getting ready to head to the infusion clinic for labwork when I walked into Tanner's room and he had a funny look on his face. I asked what was wrong and he told me his hair was coming out. He reached up and pulled and it came out in his fist.

We both got a little teary for a few minutes and then we talked about the fact that this is just temporary and we both dried the tears. He has tried to leave it alone and make it through the day but I think it's beginning to fall out in bigger bunches. He told me that he wants to buzz the rest of it off when we get home tonight.

We went to lunch today with Aunt Tincey, Trinity, and Sarah Catherine and afterwards stopped at the mall and I bought Tanner a hat. He put it on this evening and has gone to the movies with Sarah Catherine and her friend Payton (the teenagers my aunt knows in Benton).

I thope they have a good time. I'm sure Tanner is ready to hang out with someone other than his poor old mom...

its tanner

hey everyone, i love all the cards and support im getting from everyone. thanks alot from everbody who has sent a card or just left a comment on here. after all this cancer is dealt with i was planning on going on a cruise but not really sure now, might just go down to the coast and catch some good ole fish off the peer or maybe in the surf... that would be nice to do after a stressful fight with cancer dont you think? i know i sure do. but all of my family i will say i can't wait to see u all. in time i'm sure i will get around to seeing everyone but until then i'm stuck up here with these bossy doctors lol. they tell me they need a test and snap their fingers and im off. lol -guess thats how it is when u get an illness like this. you basically have to just hand your life over to someone you hardly know and hope they know what they are talking about. but the only thing we can do is hope and just ask a butt load of questions. that has been working out pretty good so far. but once again thanks to everyone for keeping me strong and following my journey to get rid of this crap inside of me that needs to move on and die and dont come back. love ya and thanks....

tanner w. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

It has been a really full day so far. We went to the Apheresis clinic this morning between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. (they let Tanner sleep in a little later today) and they did the final stem cell collection. This collection went a lot more smoothly today with the machine only alarming once. I told the nurse the machine yesterday morning must have been defective somehow and she said that it was possible but that she doubted that the machine had a problem and that Tanner's lines were probably just "flowing" better today than they did yesterday since they had already been used once.

I haven't heard from them yet regarding how many stem cells were collected today, but since they got 23.2 million yesterday, I'm sure they will have plenty to freeze. Tanner was talking to the other patients in the waiting room today and most of them were telling him they couldn't believe that he was able to collect so many cells in one sitting - and several of them told him that it took them up to seven days to collect their 20 million cells.

We met Dr. Barlogie's wife Cathy and a lady by the name of Nadege (a swiss-italian I think she said) after Tanner's stem cell collection this morning and talked to them for quite a while. They were both very nice. I thought Cathy's accent sounded familiar, and come to find out she is from Dallas. She sounded like me!!

Tanner asked her how she met "Bart" and she told him "Now, isn't that a story". Dr. Barlogie and she both use to work at M.D. Anderson in Houston and she said the first time they met they had an argument. LOL!!

You would understand the humor in that statement if you actually met Dr. Barlogie. Most of the time he has his cell phone in one hand and the office phone in the other and is usually "arguing" with someone. The thing is, he's arguing about getting his patient's the best care possible. I feel completely confident in his care of Tanner and I don't care who he has to "argue" with to get him the care that he needs.

They took the Quentin Line out of Tanner's neck this afternoon and put back in the Triple Lumen Lines. This is a good thing because the Quentin Line was a lot larger and bulkier. The Triple Lument Line is easier to sleep with and rests under Tanner's shirt where it can't be seen.

Right now he's in the back having a PET scan and this should take a couple of hours. He hasn't been able to eat anything all day so we had to hit the vending machines on the way in so that he could put some snacks in his backpack so that they will be there when he gets through. I told him we could eat whatever he likes when he gets out, but he said he would need something immediately!

The PA told us that Tanner shouldn't have to come every day over the weekend for lab work since his collections are all through and his labs look so good. Once she said that, we were hoping that we might be able to go home for the weekend but Dr. Barlogie said no, that he will need Tanner to have labwork all weekend as usual because he wants to go ahead and do the stem cell transplant next week.

We have to go for another bone marrow aspiration Monday morning (Tanner wasn't thrilled about that because the RN who performed that last one told him he probably wouldn't have to have another one for months) and then he goes to see Dr. Barlogie on Tuesday. I'm sure at that time, they will be able to give us more details on what the treatment will be.

Deena, the PA, told us usually the next phase would be more chemotherapy, which at this point would be melphalan - the drug that made Tanner so sick last time - followed by the stem cell transplant.

Tanner and the girls from Benton won't be able to go to the movies tonight since one of them has to work but they are planning on going tomorrow. That will probably be a good thing since he most likely won't be able to do anything for a while after they do the chemo and stem cell transplant next week.

I hope he goes and they have a great time!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I took Tanner to the Apheresis Clinic this morning and they collected some of his stem cells. The nurse there was very nice and she kept telling Tanner that he reminded her of her son. You could tell that she was very touched by him and she was extremely kind.

The alarm on the machine kept going off and they would have to constantly come back in and rearrange his lines to try and keep the blood moving through the catheters. It would go out of his body and through the machine and then would be run through the"warmer" and then back into his body through the other catheter - minus his stem cells.

We were told that they attempt to collect 20 million cells per patient so that they have extra frozen if the patient ever needs to come back over the years. She said that the amount that could be collected per session varied per patient but they could usually gather the required number of cells over two to three visits. When they called this afternoon to tell us how many stem cells they collected from Tanner she said it was 23.2 million cells. I told her that they had already collected enough from him in one sitting but she said that we needed to come back tomorrow for another session anyway. They explained that because Tanner is so young and has such a long life ahead of him, they want to collect as many stem cells as possible just in case he needs them in the future.

We will go for another stem cell collection first thing in the morning and then Tanner will have a PET scan at 2:30 and then another growth factor shot in the afternoon. It will be a full day.

Because of the PET scan, Tanner had to eat a healthy, low carb meal tonight so I made roasted chicken, broccoli, and green beans. After midnight he can't have anything but water so I'm sure he will be really hungry by the time the PET is over tomorrow.

The nurse said that they will notify Dr. Barlogie tomorrow that Tanner is through collecting and that we should hear from him soon regarding what our next step will be. I'm sure that he will want to wait on the results of the PET scan and MRI before he sees Tanner again but I'm really interested in what the next phase of Tanner's treatment will be. If I have it correct, the next step is usually more chemotherapy - and the PA told Tim and Janet that his next round of chemo is going to be a lot more rough on him than the first session was. But really, at this point I'm just conjecturing about what comes next; we will have to wait and see what the doctor's office has to say.

Tanner is hoping that they are going to give him a break of at least a couple of days so that we can go home but the PA said that she thinks Dr. Barlogie is going to want to forge ahead without pause because Tanner is handling the treatment so well. I guess the more aggressively they treat this, the sooner Tanner will be well.

He told me today that he wanted the family to get together more often like we use to - so everyone get ready for when Tanner comes home. He wants to see his family!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tanner received a call today from the clinic that his lab work indicated that he was ready to move to the collection phase of his treatment so we went this afternoon and had the new Quentin Catheters put in and the Triple Lumen Lines removed.

We go to the new clinic in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and the collection process will be started. I will let you know how that whole process works tomorrow.

He's a little uncomfortable at this point with his chest hurting where they put in the new larger tubes but the nurse assures us that this collection process should only takes 2 or 3 days, and then they will remove the Quentin Catheters and put back in the smaller Triple Lumen Lines.

He had an MRI performed today and the next PET scan will be done on Friday afternoon. We will meet with Dr. Barlogie at the end of the month and we should get the results on how Tanner's lesions compare now to before treatment started and hopefully they will be able to give us a clearer picture of the extent of treatment that Tanner will still need to go through. The PA did inform Tim and Janet that his initial dose of chemotherapy was mild (and that he responded well to it) and his second round will be a whole lot stronger and will be much rougher on Tanner. Something to look forward to...

Tanner's grandfather, Kerry, drove in from Abilene, Texas yesterday and stayed the night with Tim, Janet and Tanner at the apartment and they all got to spend some time together before heading back home today. I know that they were all sad to leave but Tanner tells me he had a great time with his dad and Janet this last week. If treatment is going to go on for up to six months, it's good that we can all take turns staying in Arkansas and spending time with Tanner.

Tanner talked his dad into trimming his hair before they left and though Tim kept telling him he wasn't a barber, he did a great job on Tanner's mohawk. The nurses at the clinic even commented on how good the hawk looked!

This evening we went to my aunt's house in Benton and had a nice healthy dinner. Sarah Catherine, a seventeen year old girl that my aunt used to babysit, was over and if Tanner is still feeling well, they are planning on going to the movies Friday night with some of her friends. It's great that he is meeting some young people here in Arkansas and will have someone to do something with when he's feeling well, and also maybe someone to talk to when he's not feeling so good.

I will check back in tomorrow and let you all know how the collection process goes. 7:oo a.m. will be here before you know it so I think it's time to hit the air mattress!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I made it back to Little Rock today and met Tanner, his dad, and Janet at Dr. Barlogi'e's office. He opened Tanner's file and discovered that a follow up PET Scan and MRI had not been done and was fairly upset. I think this harkens back to my feelings that his office has some issues with communication...

I mean I have all the confidence in the world in the treatment they are giving Tanner, and I am so very thankful we have found this clinic, but if I had one complaint, it would be with their communication skills.

At this point they can't give us any specifics on how his treatment is going to proceed because they are going to have to compare the results from a new PET Scan and MRI to the ones done before Tanner started chemotherapy to see how the lesions have responded to the initial therapy. These new tests will most likely be performed tomorrow.

Usually, from what I've gathered from the other patients and nurses, most patients have to go through this whole process at least twice. Dr. Barlogie's nurse said that each round of treatment usually runs six to eight weeks and he might be able to go home for a little break in between the first and second round of treatment.

She also told us that his lab work will indicate when Tanner is ready to go from the growth factor shots to the extractions and that the nurses at the Infusion Clinic will be able to tell us when he is ready to move to the second phase.

From what we were told today, the process consists of chemotherapy, growth factor shots, extractions, and then chemotherapy again. Then they will run some more tests and compare the results once again to determine if he's ready to move on to reinserting the stem cells or if he needs to go through the whole process again.

After today, we won't see the doctor again until Tanner finishes the growth factor shots and the extractions.

When the nurses at the Infusion Center tell us that he is ready to move on to the extraction phase, they will take the small lines out of the Triple Lumen Line and will put in some bigger tubes. Then they will take the blood from his body and run it through a machine that will remove the stem cells and will put everything else back in his body. She said this part of the process should take a few days and that he shouldn't feel much discomfort.

Luckily, Tanner is feeling pretty strong and I am hopeful that he will continue doing well - at least until the next phase of chemotherapy starts again. At least the next time he has to go through chemo, he will know what to expect.

I also want to take this moment to acknowledge everyone that has contributed to Tanner's Medical Fund. Many friends, family, and PIE agents have made contributions to the fund and have made it possible for us to continue to live in Little Rock while Tanner goes through these needed treatments. You have all taken a load of stress from our shoulders and have allowed us to concentrate solely on Tanner.

There are just no words adequate to express our feelings for your generosity, love and support...

Thank you, thank you, thank you -- from the bottom of our hearts...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tanner has an appointent tomorrow to see Dr. Barlogie at 3:00 p.m. Supposedly it's just an appointment to see how Tanner is doing and from what the nurses are telling Tim and Janet, he doesn't usually see the patients again until all the growth factor shots and stem cell extractions are done, but because Tanner is a special case and is so young, he just wants to check in with him.

Tanner doesn't quite understand why I so badly want to see the doctor, but we haven't seen Dr. Barlogie since the first week we arrived in Little Rock and started the tests, so I just want to hear from him about how he envisions Tanner' treament progressing.

I have several questions. How long, all together, does he take the growth factor shots? Will he do this whole process more than one time? How long does it take to do the extractions? Are they done all at once - or does it take multiple extractions? How far apart? How many times will he have to do chemotherapy? In what order does the treatments progress? Will Tanner maybe have time for a break in all this treatment to be able to come home at all or does he forsee us just staying in Little Rock for the next several months? I just have several "mom" questions about Tanner's treatment and would hate to miss an opportunity to see the doctor - especially since it looks like we are going to go weeks at a time in between appointments.

At this point, they have scheduled the growth factor shots to continue until the end of August. Then they will put in a new port with bigger tubes from which they will suck out the stem cells and then will immediately cryogenically freeze them. Then he will most likely have a few days of down time after which he will start the chemotherapy treatments again. As I said, since we haven't seen the doctor in a few weeks, all of this is coming from the nurses at the infusion center so it will be reassuring to hear from the doctor how he plans for the whole process to proceed.

It was nice seeing my family and friends in Fort Worth - and to get to go back to the office for a few days - but it was very hard being away from Tanner. Maybe as we progresss through this whole process it will be easier for me to leave, but right now being away from him is just a little hard on this mom...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tanner's white blood count has bottomed out and he no longer has an immune system. Janet tells me you wouldn't be able to tell from Tanner's attitude and appetite. She said he still seems to feel much better than he has in days and is doing great.

Until the white blood cell count comes back up, he will have to wear a mask to protect himself from picking up any bugs.

His Granny Jane has been in Little Rock with him since Friday and will head back to Texas Monday afternoon. I'm sure she will hate to leave him behind but has really enjoyed getting to spend some time with him.

Tim and Janet have also enjoyed their time with him and as Tanner told me last night when he called, they aren't ready to come back home yet. So, I'm going to go back into the office tomorrow and will wait until Monday evening or Tuesday morning to head back to Arkansas.

I'm anxious to get back to him and hope that he's still feeling better when I arrive in Little Rock.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

When Tanner went to the Infusion Center yesterday morning, his lab work had changed radically overnight and the PA said it indicated that there was an infection of some kind going on in his body.  They ran a bunch of blood cultures and a nasal swab and are checking for any blood infections, respiratory infections, pneumonia, or a lung fungus.  It will be 24 to 48 hours before they get the results.  In the meantime, they gave him an IV infusion of a broad spectrum antibiotic to attack any infection that might be happening.

I talked to him last night and he told me he was feeling better than he had in days so I guess the antibiotic has helped out with whatever was going on.  

His Granny Jane made it to Little Rock and brought him a new lap top that she and Pop Jerry bought for him and last night Janet text messaged me that he was very engrossed in his new "toy" and that he had eaten a very good lunch and wanted to know what was for supper.  Having an appetite is a good sign that he is feeling better!

I took my car to the Mitsubishi Dealership here in Fort Worth and had the air conditioner fixed.  Before I arrived my boss, Bruce, went to the Dealership and talked to one of the managers and explained to them what my family is going through and they took $300 off their bill!  As Bruce said, it makes you feel better about your fellow man when a business is willing to do something like that for a stranger.  

Tanner, myself, and our family have been touched so much by the kindness of family, friends, and even strangers over the past few weeks.  The donations for Tanner's Medical Fund have been coming in daily from the PIE agents - and family and friends - and I can't even begin to express our appreciation.  It has taken some of the stress off worrying how we are going to survive over the next few months while living in Little Rock and maintaining our homes in Fort Worth.  Thank you to each and every one of you!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tim and Janet (Tanner's dad and step-mom) are with him in Little Rock and they said he had a rough day yesterday. He is nauseated, light headed, fatigued, and has a bad headache. The nurses told us that he would continue to get more and more fatigued and with the growth factor shots (which he has to go and have twice a day now), would feel like he has the flu. I don't know if the headache is part of feeling like you have the flu or not but I do know that one of the other patients told us that she had been having a bad headache for three days and that her pain pills didn't help at all.

The nurses have also said that Tanner can no longer have fast food - or even salads (because you don't know what is on the lettuce) at this point. The apartment has a crockpot so I'm going to look up some slow cooker recipes and am hoping that I will be able to cook some things that he will be able to keep down. In the beginning, they told me to let him eat anything he wanted because he would come to a point where he wouldn't want to eat much at all. I guess we are coming to that point now.

His Granny Jane is heading to Little Rock this morning and I know she's anxious to cook her "Tannerboy" anything he thinks he can eat.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Well, the morning didn't go as smoothly as we would have hoped for. We got to the Infusion Clinic ok but had to wait nearly an hour and then when they got Tanner to the back, he got really light headed and nearly passed out. They called in a PA and she told us that Tanner was dehydrated and was also probably crashing form coming off the massive dose of steroids they had him on for the first four days of treatment.

They gave him an IV of fluids and also some medications including a little bit more Dex (the steroids he has been on for four days). She said by giving him just a bit more, they can "wean" him off the steroids rather than just taking him off all of a sudden.

I have him back at the apartment and he just wanted to go back to bed. They said his white count is going to continue dropping over the next few days and he will continue to get weaker and that it's important for him to drink plenty of fluids. I put the drinks in front of him throughout the day and try to get him to drink. I guess I'm going to have to start really pushing the fluids on him.

To top it off, now my cell phone has quit working and I don't have access to all the phone numbers saved on the phone. I do know that his dad and step mom are on the way and should be here some time this evening. I don't know that I will feel comfortable leaving Tanner alone today so that I can go and find an AT&T store, so I might just stop at Best Buy on the way out and pick up a Go Phone for the trip home. I would hate to be on the road from Little Rock to Fort Worth without communication.

I figure this is just the begining of Tanner really getting weak from all the treatments and I know that I will worry when I go home for the next few days. I tell myself that if he is going to be going through treatment for months at a time, I have to let go and let some of the other family help us out. I just know this first time leaving him behind is going to be hard on me.

I know it's been hard on Tim and Janet to be away from Tanner this week and that they are anxious to get back and see him - and I know that he will be well taken care of; it's just hard for a mom to leave her child when he's sick.

Hopefully, the trip to the hospital this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. will go a little more smoothly than this morning.

They disconnected the chemo bag yesterday so Tanner had a day of rest from all the meds. Now today he starts the growth therapy shots twice a day. The nurse said he will start feeling the aches in his bones pretty quickly - usually within a day.

His dad and stepmom (Tim and Janet) are coming today and the plan is for me to leave this afternoon and run back to Fort Worth for a few days. Of course, now I worry about leaving him when he's starting a new phase in his treatment but I know how I am, I will always worry about leaving him and there will never be "a good time". I know he's excited and ready to see his dad, Janet, and Granny Jane (who is coming up for the weekend) and I know they are anxious to see him too.

I've been working at the kitchen table at the apartment and have turned it into my "office away from office". I'm grateful every day for the people at PIE who are supporting me by helping with my job in Fort Worth (thank you Alicia, David, and Nancy) and allowing me to work remotely while we take care of Tanner here in Little Rock. I know if I worked just about anywhere else, I wouldn't have been set up with a way to work from long distance and would have ended up losing my job. I thank God every day for Pat and Bruce. I don't know what I would have done if they hadn't allowed me this chance to continue working while being with Tanner at the same time.

When the other patients tell us to plan on being here at least six months (with maybe a few weeks time to go home and "rest"), I still worry about how long we are going to have to actually be here and how we will get by. But the doctors in Fort Worth admitted to me that since they don't see this cancer in people his age, they didn't know how to treat him.

I know that this is the best place for Tanner and I just have to try and push the worries away and trust that things will work out. Six months is nothing in the grand scheme of Tanner having a long and healthy life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We had a fairly quiet day. When we went for the chemo bag to be replaced we told the nurse about Tanner's problems in the morning with his heart pounding really quickly and how he gets light headed. They said it was the Thalomid that he takes right before bed that causes his blood pressure drop low and makes his heart pump really fast. After the first thirty minutes to an hour after he first starts getting up and around, he seems to do a little better.

His energy level was much lower today. He didn't even have energy to play his X-box 360 for very long - and we used the wheelchair to get him into the bedroom tonight. We have the chair ready by the bed in the morning since our experience with the last two mornings is that he's really light headed and dizzy when he first gets up.

They are taking off the chemotherapy bag tomorrow and are supposed to start the growth therapy shots on Wednesday. Supposedly these shots will make his bones ache and will make him feel like he has the flu.

I told Tanner according to his schedule, he is supposed to go every day for the next week at 8:00 a.m. for labwork and a shot and then has to go back at 4:00 p.m. for the growth therapy shot. The problem with that is when you go to the hospital you are going to be waiting an hour to an hour and a half each time. He said he's going to ask them in the morning why everything can't be done all at one time. I told him I'm sure they have a reason for splitting up the labwork and blood thinner shot from the growth hormone shot. They must have a reason why it can't all be done at one time.

Tanner got a goody box from his Aunt Traci, Uncle Rick, Sam, and Eli today and received the Lance Armstrong book, some homemade cookies, Livestrong bracelets, bandannas, and pictures that Eli and Sam colored for him. We are wearing our bracelets and have the pictures proudly displayed on the refrigerator. Thank you all!

Tanner's dad and step mom are coming down Wednesday. His dad, Tim, has gone into business with his brother and it's mandatory for him to be there as much as possible to help with the jobs as they come available. When they arrive on Wednesday, I'm planning on running back to Fort Worth for a few days and go into the office - and also put my car in the shop so I can get the air conditioner fixed. It's been rough on Tanner when it's hot and the air conditioner in my car freezes up and we have to turn it off. He got really sick from the heat the other day when that happened so I feel like I really need to get it fixed this weekend if possible.

His Granny Jane has been working hard getting all the insurance and grant information organized and is also coming to Little Rock this weekend.

He's excited to get the chemo bag off for a while. Now we just have to see how the growth therapy is going to make him feel...
I am so tired. My head hurts and I just feel exhausted. I think it's just my nerves. We don't really do that much, basically just go to the hospital about 2-1/2 hours each day. Tanner told me last night that I looked nearly as bad as he does. Hah! He knows how to make his mom feel better.

I went to the store this morning and got the risers to put under the couch so Tanner won't have so far to rise when he gets off the couch but the darn thing is so heavy there's just no way I can put them all under the legs by myself. I got two of them under the legs, but couldn't lift up the other end by myself to get them inserted.

Tanner's dad and step-mom are going to try and come up here Wednesday so maybe Tim can get them under the couch for us. If somethings happens with his job to where he can't come, I'm sure I can get Aunt Tencey's son-in-law to help us out. At least I know they will fit.

If Tim and Janet get to come, I think I'm going to run back to Fort Worth for a few days. I need to go into the office and if I can, I need to get the air conditioner fixed on my car. Nancy (who I work with at PIE) has a friend who works on cars and he's checking prices for me.

I think it's going to be hard for me to leave Tanner this first time. You know how us mom's are when it comes to our babies. He told me last night I should go home for a few days while he's still feeling pretty good and, oh by the way, while you are there you can get my computer games and bring them back with you? I'm sure I will worry more being away from him than he will miss me while I am gone.

I was helping him back to the couch last night and he stopped and asked me for a hug. It's times like that when he truly touches my heart.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dinner with Aunt Tency didn't work out today. They called her into work this morning and she didn't get off until 4:30 p.m. She thought her daughter Julie and grandkids would be at her house but when we got there, they had left to run an errand. Julie and I didn't have each other's phone numbers so we couldn't call each other to let the other know what was going on.

On the way to Benton, my car air conditioner froze up (the dealership told me that I needed to change my sensors but that until I can get the money together, I can just run it on low - but it froze up anyway) and we had to turn it off and let it thaw out. By the time we got to Aunt Tencey's house Tanner was almost sick from the heat and I felt it was best to just get him back to the apartment. Hopefully, we will get to see them later this week.

Aunt Tencey called last night and said that some of the teenagers that Tanner met at her house last week had called to see if he wanted to go and do something, but by now, the chemo is starting to affect his energy level. I had to tell her we would just have to play it by ear and see how he's doing.

Sometimes, he seems like he's doing pretty good, and then his energy drops pretty quickly and he just wants to get to the couch at the apartment and not leave to go anywhere else.

I told him about an email I got from Joan telling me that she and Kevin have a jar that they are putting their change in thats for "Tanner's Cruise Fund". He was really touched - and excited! He told me we should do the same thing. LOL!

I want to thank you all once again for all the comments, emails, texts, cards, gifts and calls. For picking up the mail, watering my flower bed, taking care of my lawn, processing my licensing, helping with the rent, making donations to Tanner's medical funds, and the list goes on. Everyone has touched us all in their own way and we love you all!

We didn't start off well today. When Tanner got up a little while ago and went to the bathroom, I had him leave the bathroom door cracked open a little bit in case of emergency. When I didn't hear anything in a while, I looked over to the crack in the bathroom door and could see his legs across the bathroom floor. I called out and asked why he was on the floor and opened the door. He said he got light headed while he was brushing his teeth and just laid down on the floor.

He sat up and I got behind him and put my arms underneath his arm pits and pulled him to a standing position and he got back on his crutches and I got him back in bed and he's asleep again. I don't know if it's just the weakness from the chemotherapy already coming on but we will talk to the nurse at the infusion clinic about it this morning. She told me yesterday that he would steadily get weaker as the medicine starts working to the point he will become fatigued and won't want to do anything, or even eat or drink much ,and that I would have to stay after him to make sure that he stays hydrated and intakes some calories.

Yesterday, he was feeling pretty good, and even wanted to go to On the Border for lunch. Usually, when he won't eat anything else, he will eat mexican food so anytime he wants to go to On the Border, I will take him because I figure the day is quickly coming when I will have to struggle to get him to eat much of anything.

Aunt Tencey is supposed to be cooking us Sunday dinner today but I don't know if Tanner will be feeling up to it or not. I guess we will see how he feels when he gets back up and we get through at the Infusion Center.

I noticed last night that he is having a hard time getting up from the couch because it sits so low to the ground. If I get a chance, I think I will go over to Linens-N-Things and will get some of the things you can put under the legs of your bed to raise it up and put them under the couch legs so that he won't have so far to rise to come off the couch. Right now, I don't feel comfortable leaving him here alone until I see how he feels when he gets back up.

I will check back in later today and update how the rest of the day goes.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

This is probably going to be a fairly short update today. I am so exhausted and have such a headache I am going to see if maybe I can lay down for a little bit.

Let me start by saying that Tanner received his goody box from Kevin, Joan, Bernadette, Richie, Dyana, and Ryan and he and Aunt Tency's grandkids really enjoyed opening the package and playing with the contents. The rubics game occupied them for quite a while and the folder with the picture of Tanner out on the boat is gracing the entertainment center at the apartment. Thank you all so much!

Last night was Tanner's first night with the 24 hour chemo bag attached to him and the alarm sounded several times. He would turn over in his sleep and the lines would get kinked and set the alarm off. We would have to straighten out the lines and the alarm would quit but the next thing you knew, it would be going off again.

We went to the Cancer Center today to have lab work and his chemo medications changed out and the nurse taped the lines together in an effort to help diminish the alarms when Tanner is sleeping. We will see how it goes tonight. Hopefully both of us will get a little more sleep.

Several people have asked me to post the information for the bank account set up by my employer for Tanner's medical expenses - and I have to admit I feel really hesitant doing this. I don't want it to seem like I'm asking for anything but I've been assured that there are several people who would like to make small donations and that the best way to get the information out to them is to post it on Tanner's blog:

Bank of America
Payable To: Tanner Walker Medical Fund
Account Number: 488023075647

Or checks can be mailed to:

Professional Insurance Elite
6300 Ridglea Place, Ste 1111
Fort Worth, TX 76116

Again, I just want to thank everyone for all the love and support. Tanner was online earlier today and was reading all the comments. He really liked the comments on the meaning of a Mohawk haircut. He is, in fact, a warrior.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We had a really busy day - but Tanner is feeling better.

We went at 8:30 a.m. for the bone marrow aspiration and they took the draws from the left side. Tanner did much better this time (the right side REALLY hurt when they drew from there on Monday) but the RN said there were very few spicules -and they ended up having to go into the bone three times. The nurse explalined that another problem is that his count is low any way since his cancer is destroying the bone and now that they have drawn bone marrow four times in the last three weeks, they aren't able to get much aspirated. He just needs some time for his body to recover from all of these aspirations. There were no tears from either Tanner or myself this time, but I might end up with a few bruises from where he was holding my arm and hand.

After the bone marrow we went over to the Cancer Institute and they hooked him up to the chemo medications. He carries them around in a little 10 lb satchel and we will have to go to the Center every day at 11:30 a.m. and have the bag changed out and some lab work drawn. They said this form of chemotherapy will be easier on Tanner's body since he won't be given masses of the medications all at one time but will rather receive them more slowly over a period of 24 hours. They said he will end up with the same dosage of medication as the other patients but will just receive them at a slower pace that will be easier on his system. In addition to the chemotherapy, he will have to take about twenty three pills each day. I told him we need to get one of those huge weekly pill containers so we can keep up with them all.

With the impatience of youth, Tanner told them "just hit me with it" so he can go ahead and get this all over with. I told him he had to trust that the doctors know what is best for him and his treatment. I have to believe that some of Tanner's wanting them to "hurry" the treatment is that he worries about the expense of us having to live in Arkansas and maintain a home in Fort Worth.

I try to get him not to worry about the financial side of all of this, but I can tell he does. When we found out that one of the medicines was a "special" medication that our insurance required us to pay 30% (which totaled $900), I thought he was going to start crying. I told him to just not worry about it and I would go and get my credit card and just put it on there, luckily the pharmacist told us they were willing to set us up on a payment plan and Tanner settled down. I try to shield him from a lot of the financial side of all of this because I know that he worries, but sometimes he's right beside me when something like this comes up. After that, the doctor's office called and said they couldn't get the insurance company to commit to treatment, so they wanted me to come by the office and sign that I would be financially responsible for whatever the insurance doesn't pay. I had to explain to Tanner that I filed insurance for years and that this was a common practice whenever insurance is going to be filed. All of these medical issues and treatments are hard enough for Tanner to handle so I try to keep him focused on that and tell him that no matter what, he's going to get the treatment he needs and not to worry about anything else. That's what I'm trying to do myself. As long as we can get Tanner well, everything else will work out.

After the chemo appointment, we went to see the orthopedic surgeon so he could check out the x-rays for the lesion in the right hip. When he saw the huge cast on Tanner's left leg, he wanted to know why we didn't have it x-rayed also so he could check out the healing progress. We had to go back downstairs and have the left leg x-rayed too. He told us he would really like to put a nail in the right hip where the lesion is so big because he's afraid that area might break, especially now that they have started chemotherapy, but he doesn't think Tanner can undergo surgery at this time. He told Tanner that for the next month unless we are in the apartment, he wants him to stay in the wheelchair. He doesn't want him going into restaurants or stores or anything on his crutches. He's hoping that we can keep the bone from breaking and that with treatment the lesions will mostly heal on their own. He made us an appointment to come back in a month and wants to take the cast off the left leg at that time and put him in a, hopefully, shorter cast.

All in all, it's been a much better day. Now we just wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rough. That's the word. I would say that our day has been a rough one.

They gave Tanner a dose of melphalan yesterday and it was really rough on him. He's been sick to his stomach and vomitting (and has had hiccups all day). It was not good timing for him to have to endure the placement of the line in his chest but they inserted it this afternoon. So now, not only is he sick and hurting in his right hip from the bone marrow the other day, he's also now hurting in his chest.

Both of these initial doses -- the valcade and the melphalan -- have just been trial doses to see how Tanner's marrow reacts to the drugs. The real chemotherapy begins tomorrow.

We are going to start the day with another bone marrow aspiration at 8:30 a.m., followed by chemotherapy, followed by the appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. I just hope he's not throwing up again. It's not fun for him to be wheeled around in his wheel chair having to stop so that he can be sick, much less the time spent in waiting rooms.

We have been told that the chemotherapy that Tanner is going to undergo is one where they will hook a satchel of the drugs up to one of his lines and he will wear it for 24 hours. The nurses assure us that this will be less stressful on Tanner's body than having it dripped into him via IV over a period of 5-6 hours at the infusion center.
This week has been pretty stressful with the fact that the doctor's office hasn't been communicating with us what our appointments for each day are going to be. Tanner and I will go to the hospital for what we think is going to be one or two appointments, only to have a nurse at the hospital tell us we have other procedurs that Tanner needs to do. Then they have to call the doctor's office and check and then we spend hours (I mean anywhere from four to six hours) waiting on the doctor's office to get the correct orders over to the hospital.
I don't know what is going on with this lack of communication. By today, Tanner and I both were expressing our frustration to the nuses at the infustion center that we have been the ones who have had to ask the doctor's office what has been planned every day - and then have to wait on them to get it ordered - rather than the doctor's office ordering the tests and procedures and letting us know the schedule.

The nurse at the doctor's office called me this evening and told me she had heard we have had a bad day and wanted me to know that after this week, things won't be so hectic and they will have Tanner on a schedule. I truly hope so.

She went on to ask about his nausea and told me that she would call him in some nausea medications and wanted to know where I wanted to pick them up. I told her since I was grocery shopping (for bland food) at WalMart, could she call it in there. She said she would and wanted to know which one. I told her the cross streets of the WalMart close to the apartment and she called back and left a message that the meds had been ordered. I went to the pharmacy and they said no meds had been called in and that she must have called it in to the WalMart about ten miles down the road. I went to that WalMart and still no prescriptions. They got on the computer and said they couldn't find a prescription for Tanner at any of the Little Rock WalMarts.

The PA at Dr. Barlogie's office gave me his cell phone number and by this time I was in tears and called and left a message informing him that Tanner is throwing up and had been all day and I don't know what pharmacy they have called Tanner's medications to. Of course, I haven't heard back from anyone and now Tanner is just going to have to make it through the night without the nausea meds. We do have some Ativan which, though a nerve pill, does help with nausea. He took one before bed so hopefully he will have a good night.

You can already see the "look" on Tanner's face (if you click on Tanner's picture above, you can see the look I'm talking about). That look you see on the other chemotherapy patient's faces all over the hospital, and he's only been given the trial doses of medication so far. I can only imagine how hard this is going to be on him. Luckily, he is keeping his good spirits and told me that he knows he's going to have to hurt before he gets better.

After the initial round of vomitting in the parking garage this morning, he put his head on my shoulder and cried. He knows that worse is to come.

He told me just wait until we see Dr. Barlogie again. He wants to tell him that they need to work on their communication skills because their lack has caused what was already going to be a stressful week, to be much worse than it had to be. I know that they have a huge load, but you would think they would have a more efficient system in place.

Anyway, it's getting late and we have a full day tomorrow so I'm going to try and get some rest. I will check back in tomorrow to let you know how things are progressing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If I ever write on here again that we are going to have a "light" day -- be sure and chuckle. Tanner and I've just come to the realization that most of the hours of our days are going to be at the hospital. We have spent all day the last couple of days at the hospital; most of that time spent just waiting on Doctor's orders.

Monday they did a dose of Velcade and waited 48 hours and today performed another bone marrow gene array. The first bone marow aspiration they performed on him last week wasn't too bad for him to endure but today was quite painful. I was sitting at the head of his bed with my face resting against his head and he would squeeze my leg and his tears would fall to the floor. The RN who perfomed the aspiration said that he thought it was so much more painful because the draws were taken on the right side of his back where his pelvis has a lot of myeloma lesions.

This afternoon they gave Tanner a dose of melphalan via IV and Friday they will do another bone marrow gene array and compare it with the other ones. The bone marrow RN told us that they would be sure to take it from the left side and see if it's less painful than today's procedure was. I went over to Dr. Barlogie's office and talked to our nurse, Marti, and she called in some pain pills and other medications that he is to take Friday morning before we go for the bone marrow. I don't want him to go through as much pain Friday as he did today if he doesn't have too.
I went to Target after we finally left the hospital to get some essentials that we will need for our stay here in Arkansas, and one of the nurses called me to tell me that Dr. Barlogie and the other doctors were looking over Tanner's MRI and Pet Scan at their weekly meeting and it was decided that since the right femur (Tanner's good leg that is not in the cast) has such a narrow margin of good bone left, they have decided to refer him to a pediatric orthapedic surgeon. She went on to explain that while undergoing chemotherapy, the bone will be even more at risk for breakage than it is now.

So, tomorrow in addition to Tanner's daily blood work, we will go for more x-rays and then on Friday, they will schedule Tanner for another bone marrow aspiration, lab work, consultation with Dr. Nicholas (orthopedist), and will put in his "line" for future chemotherapy treatments and blood draws. Needless to say, it looks like the rest of the week is going to be very busy.
Yesterday we rented a small one bedroom apartment close to the hospital. Fortunately, they don't require leases and you just rent from month to month -- and if the doctor releases Tanner to go home mid-month, they will pro-rate the rent and refund us the difference. They also told us if we get released to go home for a few weeks or a month, we can let them know and they can sub-let the apartment and we won't have to give up our claim on it.

I have to admit, it feels really good to have somewhere we can call our own (even temporarily) to go after the end of an exhausting day. This gives us a place where Tanner can relax and unwind and though small, has the comforts of a home.

I spoke to my boss, Bruce, this afternoon and he told me that many of our PIE agents have asked what they could do to help us while we are here in Little Rock, so he has gone to Bank of America and opened a fund where deposits can be made for Tanner's treatment and living expenses.
I can't tell you how much the love and support we have received from our friends and family (including my PIE family) has meant to Tanner and myself. There are just no words that can truly express how touched we have been. I don't know how we could survive this journey without all the help, love and support of everyone who has been there for us.

I find myself somtimes wondering, how this could happen to Tanner. I've always been so grateful that my sons were so healthy and then something like this comes out of the blue. We will be driving down the road and I will look over at Tanner and see the weight he has lost and think about how the chemotherapy is going to affect him; and I'm just brought to tears all over again.
I know that Dr. Barlogie and his team will be able to cure this cancer, but it's just hard as a parent to watch your child go through something like this. To watch him in pain and tears and know that there's nothing I can do but be there for him, try to take care of him, and give him all of my mother's love; it's just almost more than I can bear. I know that he's a six foot tall seventeen year old with a mohawk, but in my heart, he will always be my sweet baby Tanner.

Like I've said time and time again, as a mother I just don't have the words in me to express the fear and stress of watching what Tanner is going through. The emails, calls, and comments that we receive daily from people who truly love us is sometimes the only bright spot we have in an exhausting round of tests and treatments.

Thank you all. We love you each and every one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Hey everyone its me.. im kinda tired right now thinking of taking a nap. A while ago we ate out at a rib joint called Famous Daves.. Its was really good, especially since the waitress was real pretty. LOL at the end of the meal they have this comment form and I made it pretty clear that i thought she was cute. Even put my number on it HAHA... But anyways im goin to get off here and most likely take a nap before i eat dinner. ummm Sure smells good through the air in the house right now. So thanks again for all the love and strength you all give to me... I appreciate it so much..!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

We went to MIRT (the Myeloma Institute of Research and Therapy) today and they sent us over to the Cancer Center to start Tanner's treatment. They started him off this week with a Velcade injection. I would try to explain what Velcade does but thought the best thing to do is just cut and paste:

How does Velcade work?
Velcade is a type of cancer drug called a
proteasome inhibitor. Proteasomes are enzymes found in cells and play an important role in regulating cell function and growth by controlling the breakdown of important proteins. Velcade blocks the activity of proteasomes and by blocking the proteasome, Velcade disrupts processes related to the growth and survival of cancer cells.
New data also suggest that Velcade may significantly improve bone disease in myeloma patients. Velcade's beneficial effect on bone disease appears to be independent of whether or not a patient's myeloma responds to Velcade. Furthermore, Velcade is as active and safe in patients with myeloma-related kidney damage as in patients with normal kidney function.

From what the PA and nurses told us, after just one injection of Velcade, many patients have a significant change in their cancer masses. On Wednesday, they will do another gene array and compare it to the one they did when Tanner was first seen last week. After comparing the two gene arrays, Dr. Barlogie will determine what form of chemotherapy treatment Tanner will undergo.

Dr. Barlogie didn't like it at all when I told him that Tanner and I would be staying in Benton with my aunt. He wants us closer to the hospital so the Social Worker at the hospital here found us a little one bedroom apartment (furnished). His dad, step-mom, and I (with some help from other family members - thank you Traci & Rick for helping us get started) will split the cost of the apartment and will have a place close to the hospital. From what I understand, you don't have to sign a lease and can just rent from month to month. I called the apartment center today after treatment and left a message that I feel sure we will take the apartment and would like to come and see it tomorrow morning.

Of course, they wanted to have an answer right away but I needed to talk to Tanner's dad and step-mom before committing. The social worker told me she would call them back and tell them to hold it so hopefully, I can get everything finalized tomorrow.

My aunt called me today and said that she has some seventeen year old girls who are looking forward to meeting Tanner so we are hoping that we will have time to go to Benton tomorrow.

I think Tanner having an opportunity to meet some young people while we are here and make new friends will be beneficial to his recovery.

Tomorrow is just "lab work" day so hopefully we won't be there all day like we were today and we can check out the apartment. I'll keep you all posted.