Thursday, October 21, 2010


I took Tanner yesterday to have his brace refitted.  After seven or so months in the same brace (which has been in several swimming pools, lakes, and rivers this summer), it was becoming quite worn out, not to mention that his leg has gotten larger and it was beginning to cut into the skin. 

The technician at Hanger Proesthetics took one look at the brace and decided that he just needed a completely new one.  She told him to hang onto the old one and if he decides to go swimming anymore to be sure and use the old brace. 

This morning I took him for an evaluation and it was decided that he could benefit from some one on one counseling.  It seems that the stress from the last year has caught up with him and is wearing him down and affecting him in his daily life. 

He will have one private session a week starting tomorrow afternoon.  I hope that this gives him some relief.

This afternoon we went to his weekly maintenance chemo appointment and had a long talk with Dr. Albritton.  During our talk, Tanner made a statement along the lines of that he's decided that he wants to spend "what life he has" living right and enjoying his family.  The doctor told him they are going to do everything in their power to see that he has a long life.

It's those moments when something unexpected comes out of his mouth, or the reality of his situation will hit me out of the blue, that my heart just breaks all over again.

The doctor asked me how I was doing and I told her that I was doing "ok".  I have bad moments, but all in all, I do okay.  I am just so very tired most of the time.   

She told me that she thought I would benefit from some counseling myself but I have to admit, I've had problems with counseling in the past.  It's often very hard for me to open up to people, and if I'm going to be quite honest, I just don't have money to waste on counseling for myself.

Sooo, what I will continue to do is what I've been doing for the last year.  I will turn to the blog.  Hope you guys don't mind....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Tanner's treatment is moving along as usual.  He's actually at his Oncologist's office this afternoon for his treatment this week.

So far, his nausea seems to be better but he doesn't have much of an appetite most of the time.  He's still walking using the one crutch and, occassionally, he may take two steps on his own without using the crutch but they are very halting steps and he can go no more than a short distance of a couple of paces.

The doctor has written a script and we need to go and get him fitted for new straps for his brace, or maybe even a new one, since his leg is getting bigger and is slowly catching up to the size of his "good" leg.

I don't think he or I either one have much hope that the leg will heal enough by January to avoid surgery, but I guess you never know and we'll see in four months.

There's been a lot of upheaval in our family this week and it's been overwhelming. Regardless of the fact that Tanner has cancer, he's still an 18 year old boy with all the pressures that entails.  There's just so much peer pressure at this age and life isn't easy. 

Marty (his nurse in Little Rock) and I talked during this last trip about the fact that she fears that Tanner is so afraid that he's going to die young, that he's grabbing onto life with both hands and maybe being tempted to do things he wouldn't normally consider doing - judging by the tattoos and ear gages that he's recently acquired (she's the mother of a son and seems to understand some of the pressures they face).

Tanner came to my office yesterday and spent some time talking to my boss, Bruce, and when we left the office he broke down and cried and told me he was sorry for a lot of things and that he realizes that he needs to start taking on some responsibilities and get his life back on a productive track.

Then, knowing that we've had a stressful week, Kirk came over to our house and took us out to eat last night and it meant a lot to Tanner.  Kirk has been a constant positive male role model in his life for about twelve years now and it means so much to Tanner when he gets an opportunity to spend some time with him.

He asked Kirk when he was going to cook some pasta with the red wine sauce and Kirk told him he was sure that could happen in the near future. These sorts of things mean so much...

Tanner admitted to me that he knows his life has gotten side tracked but that he's ready to turn things around and focus on the positive things in his life.  He is going to take more responsibility for taking care of himself, he's going to check on some of the grants and scholarships available to cancer patients, and he's also going to contact some of the cancer societies that try to help cancer patients find employment within their capabilities.

I am so ready for things to turn around.  I need some "normal" for a while....

As is often the case, I don't always know how much "honesty" I should put out here on the Blog.  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and I don't want people to become disappointed in Tanner, but on the other hand this blog has often become my lifeline in trying to handle everything that has happened to me and Tanner during the last year.

Just because he's a cancer patient, doesn't mean that he's a perfect teenager.  He's like many other young 18 year old males out there.  He's trying to find his way and sometimes he hits a detour.  I am just so grateful to those who stand by us as we travel this journey down Tanner's road to recovery - and to adulthood.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back to maintenance

Well, we made it back from Little Rock this weekend.  The good news is that Tanner is still in full remission and all the tests look better than the previous tests.

The only "active" lesion is in the right femur and they say that lesion is just so big it's going to take it a while to heal.  The bone marrow in that area is "almost" normal and they say nothing to worry about.

The bad news is that Tanner's broken left tibia shows no perceptible healing since the last CAT scan done in April.

Dr. Nicholas says that he wants to wait until we come back in four months for his next re-staging tests and see if there is any improvement.  This is exactly what he said to Tanner in April so,needelees to say, Tanner was disappointed.  He was hoping to either have healed enough that they said things were going to be fine on their own, or that he was ready for surgery.  He is just ready to get rid of the crutches.

We asked Dr. Nicholas if he thought four more months were really gong to make a difference since it's already been over a year and he said that the surgery wasn't without risks and he didn't want to go there unless absolutely necessary.

After thinking about all of this during the drive home, I called his office yesterday and left a message that I wanted them to just be aware that Tanner only has a few more months on his COBRA policy after which time he will only be covered on Medicaid.  I told them I didn't know if this made a difference but that I wanted them to be aware of the fact.  After hanging up, I thought I should have probably told them he will also have another $10,000 deductible after the first of the year.  I haven't heard back yet.

The only change the doctor at MIRT made on his maintenance chemo is that they slightly reduced the steroids in an effort to abate some of the nausea and the gag reflux when Tanner tries to eat.

We are heading to Cooks Oncology this afternoon to get him back on his treatment.  I'll be sure to keep things updated.