Monday, July 30, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Since the last 20 months of her life have been anything but routine, Scarlett now has a lot of catching up to do.  Today we took a big step toward that with her first vaccinations. 

We have waited a long time for these vaccinations.  In the early days, she was scheduled to get her shots on the standard schedule - Hepatitis B at birth (which she got), and then the next round at two months.  We showed up at that two month well check, and, well...things took a different turn.  From that point on, we were told she should not have any vaccinations because they would be rendered useless by chemotherapy.

Vaccines are given to help the body's immune system create antibodies to diseases like influenza and polio.  With antibodies, the body is able to fight off any potential infection to those strains of disease.  However, when the immune system is compromised by chemotherapy, it cannot create the necessary antibodies intende by vaccines.  This makes the vaccine ineffective.  Scarlett's neuro-oncologist told us early in her treatment that she would not get any vaccines, other than for the flu (apparently the risk of flu is so much higher for kids on chemo that giving the vaccine is standard practice, despite the lower level of immune response; even a little bit of immunity is worth it.)

So, we waited.  Earlier this year, as we neared the end of chemo, we discussed the vaccine issue with both the oncologist and pediatrician.  They agreed that we would begin 6 months after chemo ended, once Scarlett's immune system had recovered.  Since she is older and bigger than typical babies getting first vaccines, she is on a different schedule, based on the recommendations from the CDC for children after chemotherapy.

I have been nervous about it, mainly because I don't want her to get sick.  I know that the risk is very low, but I always feel like we are waiting for the next crisis these days.  Introducing anything volatile into her system is counterintuitive.  However, the threat of exposure to something contagious is also increasing, as she is getting out more, and will be going to school.

Like always, she did great.  A little crying, a little nap, and now she seems fine.  We're on the lookout for any reactions, but hopefully she is on the road to immunity!  She will get the next doses at her two year well-check in October.

And that brings me to an announcement!  

Scarlett's 2nd Birthday Blood Drive
Saturday, October 20, 2012
First Presbyterian Church of Newark in Newark, CA

Along with the Stanford Blood Center, we will be hosting our second blood drive in honor of Scarlett.  Last year, we had over 120 people come out to donate blood, and collected over 100 units for patients like Scarlett.  This year, the blood center has seen what we can do, and will be increasing the seats available for donors by bringing their bloodmobile!  We are hoping we can reduce the wait time for donors, as well as try to collect even more than last time!  Like last year, we will hold a raffle to raise money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, which helps fund groundbreaking research for brain tumors in children.

Can't make it?  That's okay!  Since our goal is simply to encourage blood donation, you can participate wherever you are by giving blood!

We have just begun our preparations (as if things weren't busy enough for us!), but more information will be coming soon.  Right now, we are looking for help to make this the best event it can be.  Help like...

- Donations of raffle prizes
- Volunteers to help set up, serve birthday cake and/or clean up
- Help getting the word out!

If you want to help, you can e-mail us at ScarlettGrace2010[at]gmail[dot]com.


1 comment:

MC said...

Go Scarlett, go Scarlett!
(Doing my happy dance for her!!)
Hugs from PA!