Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chemotherapy

I am breathing easier now.  The first dose of chemo is over.  It was run over 24 hours, with the first hour a high dose system shock, then 23 hours of continued IV infusion.  Now, we have to wait a few days until the levels of drugs in her urine measure almost undetectable.  Then we go home for a few days, and are back in-patient next week for the next drugs.

She has not had any negative side effects yet.  She has been slightly sleepier and less interested in eating than usual, but overall, it has been easy for her.  The fluids that are flushing the chemo from her system make her have many, many wet diapers, which we must wear gloves to change to protect ourselves from the chemo.  

I was so scared, so anxious for what it would be like the first time, as the chemo hit her system.  As they connected the neon yellow liquid to her IV, I just stared at the toxic chemicals that we were willingly pumping into her little body.  In my head, I know that the drugs are necessary to make her better.  But my heart wants to grab her and run far away from these horrible chemicals that are made to make her sick and well at the same time.

I did not know much about chemotherapy before we began dealing with it personally.  Chemotherapy is drugs that are used to kill cancerous cells in the blood.  Unfortunately, it doesn't only kill cancerous cells, but healthy ones as well.  This is what causes the familiar side effects: nausea, hair loss, and most critically, weak immune system.  My basic understanding is that chemotherapy drugs kill off those cells that reproduce quickly, like the blood, hair, digestive system and, of course, cancer.  Damaging the cells makes the stomach upset and causes mouth sores and diaper rash; hair falls out (which takes longer); and the blood has trouble fighting off infection.  

Blood is made of three basic parts: red cells, plasma and white cells.  When the chemo starts to damage the blood, the red cells and plasma can be replaced by transfusion, but white cells cannot.  Each body has personalized white cells that fight off infection or other invasive cells to that body.  If you were to transfuse white cells from one person to another, the recipient's body would kill the new white cells because they are foreign.  Normally, this function is used to kill viruses and infections, so when the white cells are low, the body is not able to fight off infections.  Minor infections become our biggest enemy, as they can have devastating effects on a weak immune system.  Luckily, white cells come back over time, so once the blood shows adequate white blood cell counts, patients are able to be around other people and lead a more normal life.

We are preparing for what this will be like for us.  Luckily, Scarlett won't experience too much of a difference in her life; she won't miss school or friends when her counts are low.  For Chris and I, it is more intrusive, but I think we will get used to it as we go.  I can only hope that she continues to handle the chemo as well as she did this time and that we can continue to push forward.

40 comments:

Irene K said...

Scarlett is always in my thoughts and good vibes. I am glad the first session went well. Her strength (and Mom and Dad's) is inspiring. Love from Austin, Tx

Sandy said...

So little and so young to have to endure so much. Fingers crossed, good thoughts and prayers are always on the way to you all. One step at a time.

Anonymous said...

Sending many prayers to God on your family's behalf. Scarlett & you & Chris are truly amazing with your strength. This is the beginning of a long journey but also one day closer to the end. Hang in there. Love from Alabama

Mandy Norris said...

I'm glad the 1st round is over and praying that the rest go as easily as this one. Many thoughts, prayers, and hugs to all of you. Love from West Columbia, TX.

ligermom said...

Good to hear that she tolerated the chemo well. Hopefully the rest of the treatment goes as smoothly. Scarlett is frequently in my thoughts. Stay strong guys.

satiglenn said...

Remember that your breastmilk is FULL of white cells. :)

Kim Chodorowski said...

I am glad she is off to a good start with the chemo. Stay strong, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

The Hurlockers said...

Prayers as always for baby Scarlett and for you guys too.

Sandra Lynn said...

Good luck! God bless...what else can I say other than I carry Scarlett and you both in my heart every day.

Anonymous said...

I was just going to remind her of the breast milk! I hope you can still produce some because your cells can really become a benefit for baby Scarlett! Glad the first is over and hope she is feeling well soon! God bless you all.

Fauntel said...

Your family is a pack of warriors! Keep on fighting the good fight.

Hannah said...

You don't know me but I have been following your blog and finally decided to comment. I am so glad that the first round of chemo is over and was successful without major side effects. We are praying for Scarlett and your family.

Christina said...

Praying that all continues to go as well as it has so far! Your little family is so brave and strong.

Molly (from BBC March 2010) said...

Phase 2 of Scarlett's big fight begins! I can only imagine how tough this is, but I am so inspired by how you "Mom Up" and do what needs to be done for your daughter. I will be thinking about you guys. THanks for the updates.

Anonymous said...

Brandi, continue to stay strong and remember that nobody knows her as well as you do. The best medicine for her is you (and Chris) being there to hold and comfort her during all of this. I think about you guys everyday and pray that Scarlett continues to forge ahead. She is such a fighter!
xoxo Kira from BBC Nov. 2010

Jen D said...

I'm so glad to hear that you were able to meet the study deadline. I truly cannot imagine what it must be like to go through what your family has. Continued thoughts and blessings as the chemo kicks that cancer's rear!

Kelli B. (BBC March 2010) said...

Sending LOTS of positive thoughts and prayers your darling daughters way... Thank you for sharing your story with us.... Big hugs from Colorado...

snowbird said...

I am so happy that all went well with her first treatment. My prayers and prayers from my church will continue to be with you and baby Scarlett. God has eased her into the first treatment.

Mersida said...

Glad that the first round is over and it went well. I always thing of Scarlett. Hugs from PA (bbc Sept 10 mama)

Anonymous said...

So glad your nursing at this time. Keep it up!

Jamie - BBC Oct 2010 said...

ahh..and this is where the feet hit the pavement. this is the part of the journey that is left completely unknown. however...this child...this strong, amazing, beautiful little girl - she has had so much strength and has made such huge progress - i think she is the best candidate for this. better than a lot of older children or adults. in one year from now we will all breathe a big sigh of relief. when all of this is over and scarlett has beautiful locks and in a pretty little dress dancing around in your living room - you should write a book! because this journey has and will always touch the life of thousands of people. i cannot wait for the day when we all will celebrate in our home, with our families the beautiful scarlett grace that had the strength and courage to be beat the odds and bring hope to the world <3

Anonymous said...

I can finally breathe a deep breath since I can read how Scarlett is doing! I'm so glad to see this new entry. Jamie said it all so eloquently, but others made great statements as well. I, too, think of your family many times during the day and offer up prayers for each of you. May God continue to wrap you all, including her medical staff, in His grace, wisdom, courage, and strength.

Paula said...

Happy to hear that she coped well with her first session, all of you continue in my and my family prayers.
For her final and full recovery!!! Much love guys, xoxo

Michelle said...

Your little butterfly amazes me so. Such a strong little girl. Just like her mommy and daddy. Its good to hear she is doing so well. It makes my heart smile/


Chemo- A chill goes through me each time I read about it. My best friend went through it with her leukemia 3 yrs ago. It feels like it was yesterday. Just want to pass on some important information to you (for you though the children's hospital you are at sounds very cautious and wonderful in every way.) Just please PLEASE PLEASE make sure all measures are always taken with hospital visitors (if they are allowed). Make sure all precautions are always enfroced- complete wash down and suit up/gloves, etc. For my friend- they were very into this at first, but then slacked.... and she contracted a very common illness from an outsider. I just dont know why precautions werent inforced for you.
Love your blog. Keep strong mama :) Everyone is has your family in our thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Stay strong for your little butterfly! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
-A friend from thebump

Malory, PA said...

I'm saying prayers for your beautiful butterfly every day, and am so happy to hear the first round of chemo went as well as it can go. :) I'm so proud of you two as parents to be able to watch your baby go through all of this, and still have the strength to stay positive, be there for your baby, and update millions of strangers on her journey. We are all so thankful that you keep us updated and that you let us into your lives enough to care and pray and walk beside you (as much as we can through the internet) :) love to the three of you!! Keep fighting, Scarlett! And stay strong mommy and daddy! <3 <3 <3

Anonymous said...

Saying a prayer for you tonight, and every night that follows until your little one is cancer free! Thank you for allowing us to be apart of your journey.

Anonymous said...

I cry everytime I read your blog sometimes tears of sadness sometimes tears of joy when Scarlett is improving. My mother just went through Chemo so I understand how hard it is. I pray for you and your little butterfly everyday and you are never far from my thoughts. And I agree with a previous poster you should write a book because the strength you and your entire family show is an inspiration to everyone. Love and Prayers from Amy BBC Jan 2010 board

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your little precious girl. Whenever I read your blog, life comes into perspective. Stay strong.

rebecca said...

Keep on fighting little Miss Scarlett you are simply amazing and I think of you every day I pray that you get well. Its good to hear the first is done and over with and that youve done well on it. Keep it up babygirl!! Brandi and Chris you two are strong amazing parents and Scarlett is so lucky to have you in her life as well as you two are so lucyk to have her in yours. I pray that you all stay stong and that everything works out for the best.
P.S. Feed the faith and your fears will starve to death.

melissa said...

Thoughts and prayers to all of you!

Anonymous said...

we are still praying for you here in SoCal. Scarlett's story is one of hope and miracles that have come to us in such a time of need. From Scarlett, we are learning to fight the good fight! Chin up, mom, dad, and Scarlett. Lotsa' love!

Anonymous said...

That poor poor baby girl! prayers are still coming your way as well as good vibes and thoughts from Boston, MA
Stay strong little one.
God Bless you

Noelle
Cafemom july 2010

Anonymous said...

Hugs. Remeber to keep turning toward your partner during this time. Your writting is so beautiful that the love is crystal clear. I am glad you were cleared to start the treatment. Just try not to forget the silly smiles, the sticking your tongue out, and huges. We all wish that for you. Thank you for updating us.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you guys! You are all so strong...Prayers and thoughts...from MA

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update. I am amazed by all of your strength and your little butterfly's Scarlett. I pray for you each and every day and I too am looking forward to a day of celebration when Scarlett is healed and cancer free. With love, prayers and hugs to you and your butterfly....
Crystal from BBC September 2010

Stepper said...

We're still praying for Y'all. My whole crew is. May God keep you comforted and at ease. This won't be easy, but I believe she will be OK. ♥♥♥

Heather said...

I came across your story through Baby Center. It breaks my heart what your family and little girl have gone through, but yet so glad that she is such a fighter. I pray every night for you and Scarlett with faith that our God, the great Physician, will guide the doctors that are working with you and heal her. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the heartfelt update. You are so descriptive and it helps me to put myself in your shoes and know what you must be thinking. You are so brave to be doing the right thing for your little girl, this thing that is so hard to do. Thank you for sharing Scarlett with us, and her amazing story. We will continue to pray for you.

Kimberly said...

So glad she is coming along and seems to be comfortable and happy for the most part. I continue to send positive thoughts and prayers.