On September 14, 2010, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia / Megakaryocytic or AML M7. My prognosis is that I will make a full recovery with no long term side effects. I am so grateful for family, friends and angels that are surrounding me each and every day of this process. I love all of you! I hope you find my posts interesting as I share a little piece of me and some insights along this life changing journey.

Jessie - Age 2

Yeah - I'm pretty special!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jessie Ringing the Bell

I rang the bell!!  Did you hear it?!  I was pretty surprised at how loud it was and only wanted to ring it twice.  The rest of the time I enjoyed clapping with everyone and telling them to sing again.  My whole family came to get me and bring me home!  You can just see Alyssa in the background.  She was coloring pictures.  YAY ME!!!!!

The Bell at Primary Children's Hospital

There is a short, special ceremony that takes place at Primary Children's Hospital when you are discharged from your last round of chemo.  All the staff comes together with the family to celebrate that your journey through chemo and cancer has come to an end.  I can't tell you how emotional it is to be at the "end" of this journey.  There are songs and lots of clapping, cheering and tears.  The staff has become family.  They have taken care of Jessie for the most part of six months and she has them all wrapped around her little finger.  The inscription on the bell reads:

Ring this bell
Three times real well
Its toll to clearly say

My treatments done
This course is run
Now I am on my way

Jessie is indeed on her way.  My beautiful, spirited, amazing little girl has come through her course to be on the other side of cancer.  Remission.  It is a wonderful and stressful place.  Jessie's prognosis still remains at 80+%.  The doctors do not expect the leukemia to come back and will monitor her for three years.  Being the Mom - I am not sure that I'll ever look at a bruise the same way again...  I have a lot of emotions when I think through this journey that we've been on but I am mostly thankful that my angel baby is still with us.  She touches everyone around her in the most amazing way and I can't imagine life without her.  I am thankful that if she had to have cancer - she had one that is known and can be treated successfully.  I am not sure that is the same as loving this trial but that's as close as I can come.  I am thankful for my Heavenly Father's support and love.  This was shown in countless ways.  He is aware of my little family and our struggles.  We are stronger coming out the other side.  Trials teach you, forge you, mold you, bends you and you find humility and love to support you.  I have more empathy than I had before and genuine kindness (at any level) touches me deeply.  Here's to making it to this point, Jessie Bee!!  May you continue to be cancer free!   

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Round Six - seven days and counting...

Hi Everyone!!!  It is my last week at the hospital!!  My family is so excited and are literally counting off every day.  I was a little low the past few days on my blood count levels so I received a transfusion and platelets.  This always perks me up - my cheeks get pink and I have a TON of energy.  Amazing what a higher blood count can do for you!  My ANC (absolute neutrophil count) hasn't reached zero yet but I'm getting close!  For those that don't know, this is a very important number.  It determines when I start my next round of chemo and when I get to come home.  My body doesn't follow a typical path for ANC.  After chemo treatments, my ANC goes down and then back up sporadically until I finally reach zero.  I usually stay at zero for about three days and then my monocyte count and ANC starts going back up.  Once the monocyte numbers have gone up for two days in a row - I get to go home.  My parents are thinking it will be next Monday...  Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Round Six - March 2011 (Beginning)

This is by far the most exciting round because it is my LAST ONE!!! In my short time here on earth I have never had six months go by sooooo slowly. I have a repeat of round five - which means seven days of ara-C (chemo) 24/7 on a slow drip. It is the worst! I started my chemo on the 2nd so I will finish sometime on Wednesday night/Thursday morning of this week. I have not been as good about staying in bed this time and I get really mad. I have figured out how to unscrew all the tubes connected to me. Those resourceful nurses have thwarted my escape plans - they put bright green tape around every connection point on the various tubes and there are a lot of them!! I've just resorted to pulling really hard on the tubing and yelling at it. So far, it hasn't worked. I must not be yelling hard enough... My parents are pretty good at distracting me from this routine. They read to me, draw pictures, pick up crayons that I throw on the floor - over and over and over. I think they are secretly throwing some of them away because I have less and less of them. I have drawn some beautiful pictures on the bed, the sheets, my arms / legs / tummy and face. I can tell you that Magic Erasers and Shout are AMAZING!!! Paper is just not fun to draw on. When I get off this bed - the walls are fair game.

It seems that the dose of ara-C I am getting agrees with me. I haven't been sick and am full of energy. Thank you everyone for all the prayers! I am just pulling through all of this with shining colors. Can you believe that I have even grown three inches during this process!!!! I weigh the same so I've just gotten taller... don't get me wrong - I eat!!! My parents have found creative ways to "calorie pack" everything. Very sneaky...

My doctors gave me a road map for the next three years at the beginning of this round. I should be discharged the 23rd of March. Around the 6th of April, I will come back to the hospital for a bone marrow aspirate to ensure that only healthy blood cells are being produced. That is done outpatient so after the test, I get to go back home. The results will come back later that same day. As long as my bone marrow test shows good results (no leukemia present), I get to have my central line removed around April 20th. Looking forward to being able to have a proper bath!!! The doctors will then check my blood every month for one year, every other month for the second year and then quarterly for the third year. The blood tests will be done at Primary Children's Hospital so we have to come back to the hospital for an hour long appt each time. I'll be on medications for about three months after my last chemo session but I WILL BE AT HOME!!! YAY!

I am really praying hard that all of my tests show great results and I know a lot of you out there are praying with me. Thank you!!!!! You certainly can't take this journey alone. My family and I have had so much support from so many people - it is just impossible to thank them enough! Angels on earth...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Session 5 - February 2011 (the end)

Hi Everyone! I had a fantastic round! I wasn't sick at all this time - can you believe it?! I didn't really post anything more about round five because it was just BORING! We love boring! The only thing to report from the whole round - my hair finally gave up. It all fell out in my last three days at the hospital. It was already really short so by the time it finally fell out - no one really paid much attention. I am just sooooo cute with my million watt smile - who needs hair! Mom can't torture me by putting my hair into bows, braids, pony and pig tails. YIPPEEE!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Session 5 - February 2010 (Beginning)

I was admitted for my fifth session on January 31st. We found out that I have to have seven days of chemo on this round and that means staying in bed for a week. Ouch! That is really the hardest part for me next to staying in a small room. I recognized where I was this time and I started crying as soon as we walked into the hospital. This round started with a bone marrow aspirate. I was taken to RTU and put under sedation. The procedure takes about 15 minutes so I'm not out for very long. My bone marrow looks really good these days so no biopsy was needed - that hurts more so I'm glad I don't have to have that done. The results were AWESOME! No visible signs of leukemia! Pause for a moment for me to do the happy dance... These treatments are working and I only have one more to go! Bring on the chemo baby and load up the bed with noisy toys, books and balls! I've got all the nurses wrapped around my finger and ready to help entertain me! My newest thing - dancing in my bed! My Mom opens the blinds on my door and I stand up in bed and dance for the nurses at the desk to watch and wave at me. They like to come in and join me. My Mom and Dad are known at the hospital as "Jessie's Mom and Dad". They hear all the time that I'm everyone's favorite patient!
Session 4 - Over half way done!

I was admitted to the hospital for my fourth round on New Year's Eve. I rang in the new year knowing that I'm over half way done with my chemo sessions. YAY ME!!! My Mom was with me and we had a great evening with just the two of us. The Kids Crew team brought us items to make some really cool New Year's hats. We had feathers, buttons, pipe cleaners and glue. I had a great time throwing the buttons on the floor and trying to eat them faster than my Mom could get them away from me and glue them on the hat. We danced and played and went to bed around 11 - too partied out to stay awake! I spent the first four days attached to George (my IV pump) getting my chemo medications. I really don't like staying in bed... but the four days were over before I knew it and I went into count recovery. Unfortunately my body is starting to realize that I'm getting chemo and I was nauseated from the start to the end of this round. My medications aren't much different - but I had a hard time. I was still my super happy self - just not as clean. :) Good thing the hospital has washers and dryers to use! I have some incredible nurses - My favorite nurse is named Irish. When he is taking care of me, he comes in and smells my feet and whistles that they are stiiiiinkyyyyy!! I just giggle and giggle over this and hold my feet out for more sniffs! I love getting into the pockets on their scrubs and Irish started putting treats into his pockets for me to find. This has ruined it for the rest of the nurses - I just pull out their chapstick and saline syringes. Tracy, one of my techs, comes in and colors with me and she even let me color on the walls! That will come back to haunt my mom later!! Thank heavens for Magic Erasers! I got really tired of being in my room during this session and started getting creative about my escape plans. Nurses and techs would come in the room and I would try to hide under the sink next to the door. As soon as the door opened - I was outta there! My Mom let me ride a cool car stroller around the halls for a while - I shouted WEEEE and HI to every single person I saw. Since most of the staff has taken care of me at some point, there were a lot of people to talk to on this adventure. Irish had brought a crazy stuffed monkey that danced and made lots of noise when you took his banana. That was fun! My count recovery was good and I was released after two weeks and five days. That was pretty awesome for my family! There are only so many times a person can watch the same Disney movies over and over again. I'm not sure my Mom will ever watch another Tinkerbell movie...

Special Gifts
I have a very special friend that is close to me and my family. My adopted Aunt Gina. I got to spend a lot of time with Gina on Sunday's when she would hold me and play with me. We grew very close and I love her very much. She moved this summer and when she heard the news about my cancer, she had a special gift made for me. It is very beautiful and I will treasure it forever! It was made in my name and is called "Jessie's Bird". The bird is to help me remember to be strong and that I will "fly" again. It was made with a lot of love and I am very grateful to have Gina as part of my life!!!

Christmas 2010

I have to say - I am very happy to have been able to spend Christmas at home with my family!! It was the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER! Our family was truly blessed by our wonderful neighbors and friends. We were showered with delicious meals, tasty treats and some very generous donations to help out my family. People really are amazing and there just aren't words enough to express how grateful we are for all of the support. I was released from the hospital the week before Christmas and got to spend almost two weeks at home with my family. Since school was out that week - the entire family was together and boy did we have fun! I went to my Uncle Steve and Aunt Jane's house for Christmas Eve. I love playing with my cousins and we ran all over the entire house. I had hugs and kisses for everyone! I went to bed kinda early from all the energy I spent... The next morning was Christmas and Santa brought me a small trampoline to help strengthen my legs and I laughed and giggled every time I jumped. I also got some great toys to take back to the hospital for my next round. One of the biggest surprises to see when I got home... my Mom had gotten a new addition to the family - a new dog. I wasn't too sure about him at first but after he learned not to get too excited around me, I warmed up to him. He is very soft and will let me pet him without licking me!!

Yep...my parents love me!!

Me and my Daddy

just precious!!

It's okay to bite on this, right??!!

Jessie with her cousin Kyson, playing Doctor :)