Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No more chemo or house arrest!

Kol's last round of cyclo started on Feb 16, and his very last scheduled chemo treatment was on February 23.  His white blood count was low (at 2.7) going in to the treatment on the 16th, so I knew that it could be more of an issue after this treatment than after the previous rounds.  It took him longer to recover this time, but as of March 2nd, he was finally able to go out in public again.

The normal range for total white blood count (WBC) is between 5.00 - 15.00 times 10 to the 9th cells per litre of blood (on the hematology report, it looks like: 5.00-15.00 10^9/L). Anything below 5 is low. The count is further differentiated into types of white blood cells - neutrophils, lymphocytes, basophils, monocytes, and eosinophils. For Kol, the neutrophils has been the most important - they are the white blood cells most responsible for fighting off bacterial infection (while lymphocytes deal primarily with viral infection, and eosinophils rise in response to allergic disorders or inflamation). One of the nurses said that once the neutrophil count drops below 1.00 - 1.5, they tell kids not to go to school.  Kol's cranio-spinal radiation was put on hold when his neutrophil count dropped below about 0.75.

Following Kol's 2 day chemo treatment, we give him daily injections of G-CSF, a bone marrow stimulant, which brings the WBC count up substantially. On Feb 23, when we went back for Kol's final chemo treatment, his WBC was 0.37.  The oncology nurse even looked a bit worried when she came to tell us the results of the bloodwork.  She said she had seen lower, but it was pretty low.  By the 25th, after a week of G-CSF injections, his WBC was still only 0.4. By March 1st, Kol's WBC was finally up to 4.5, with several doses of G-CSF remaining. Usually, Kol got 10 to 12 doses of G-CSF.  This time, he got 15. 

We celebrated Kol's new-found (and hopefully permanent) freedom by attending the "Heading for a Cure" music night fundraiser.  It was a fun night - with lots of good music.  There were 4 "acts" or performers, all of whom were connected to someone who has a brain tumour, and all were very talented.  Two of them, Wes Froese and Matthew Kopperud, were friends of ours.  Matthew was the last performer, and all the kids insisted on staying to the end to hear all of his music.  It was worth it. Matthew introduced his first song by saying that it was a song he had written especially for the night, for Kol.  During the second song, I saw that Kol was crying.  He said it was because he was so happy - that the first song Matthew played was so heartwarming (Kol's words - not mine) and full of happiness and joy.  Kol has looked up to Matthew since they first met at Kinasao when Kol was 4.  It was an awesome evening, and a great way to celebrate Kol's new-found freedom. 

Just a note: I have several posts to go up in the next couple of days - to catch up after all of the silence lately.  Be sure to check out the photo post, and the one about Kol's upcoming MRI.

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