Tyson's Brave Battalion

Tyson's Brave Battalion
Things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” ~Samuel Johnson

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Almost to Maintenance!

Cool ice sculptures eh?  Today was our last treatment of Interim Maintenance II.  Now he has a two week break and then he starts the next and final phase which is called Maintenance and lasts until August 19th, 2014.  This phase consists of less trips to primary children's, but more chemo at home.  He is in a clinical trial so the day he starts he gets randomized into one arm of four different possible treatment plans.  We don't know what his exact plan will be until he gets randomized, but we have a general idea.  He will take a pill called Mercaptopurine (6mp) every day.  He will take a methotrexate pill once a week, and then a five day pulse of dexamethasone with vincristine either once per month or once every three months depending on which arm of the study he ends up in.  The chemo that he gets at home usually does not cause hair loss, so his hair will keep on a growing now.  That's a little scary cause I think people are more likely to remember to be careful around him when he looks like he has cancer, now that he will start to look like a normal kid, it will be harder to remember that his immune system will still have its ups and downs for the next three years.  ugh.  Here's hoping for lots of ups, they try to keep it at a certain level during this time, but I guess sometimes it is not easy to get it stabilized.

Taking vitals...weight today was 15.4kg, (33.9lbs) that's up a little : )  and I actually remembered to take note of his height today, 94.1cm.  That means he has grown 2.1 cm since diagnosis day. I don't really know what that means, I'll have to find some kind of growth chart and see. 

In the zone getting ready for port access

Now back in infusion waiting for the drugs...Notice he is leaning forward, playing pretty attentively, in fact he entertains everyone there cause he always makes loud sound effects when he is fighting someone playing Kung fu Panda on the xbox, sometimes he will even stand up and jump a little cause he is so into the game.  He was pretty animated today...

...until they started pumping the methotrexate in, then he sat back in his chair and was a lot more calm.  He won't ever admit that he doesn't feel good, but I could tell today that it was affecting him, it was interesting to watch.  He recovered quickly however and is as lively as ever tonight. : )

On our way home!  he got a blanky and a lightning Mcqueen pillow pet from his hh nurse so he got to snuggle with them all the way there and back.  We are excited for this little 'break' before he starts taking daily pills.  ANC 900! : )  That means he was able to play with cousins a teeny bit during Christmas break.  WBC 2.3, RBC 3.58, HCT 30.6, PLTS 220

Thursday, December 22, 2011

HopeKids Cards

Today Tyson got a big envelope in the mail from HopeKids full of homemade Christmas and Birthday cards!  They were made just for him by a bunch of teenagers from the Pleasant Grove Seminary in Utah. Thank You!!  (if you are wondering what HopeKids is click on the word above, or look in my September posts) : )
Look at how creative and unique each card is!

And each one has its own personal message inside, so nice!

Merry White Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Clinic and Birthday Celebrations

Happy Birthday Ty!  He's using his new birthday shaving set.

On our way to Primary Children's Dec 20th for our clinic appointment, no food today, we were thankful that he slept the last hour of the trip so he wouldn't have to think about being hungry.

The best distraction tool ever...worked again like a charm, he just a kept on playing while the nurse accessed his port

The sterile field of supplies ready to access, you can see the port needle in the middle with it's cover still on
Clinic was extra fun today!  Santa came and brought a little felt snowman full of candy.  Ty was super hungry cause by this time it was 1:00ish and he can't have food or drink before he is sedated.  We prayed at family prayer that morning that he would be brave and okay with not eating.  He really wanted to eat his candy but he didn't throw a fit or anything which was awesome!  He just held on tight to his candy bag and waited

Annie the therapydog came to visit, she is new and we love her cause she is super clean and soft and her owner is very dedicated.

Thumbs up to dad after Ty is all hooked up for sedation...but not sedated yet

And here's a super cool thumbs up to dad WHILE he is sedated.  This surprised us cause you just don't know how aware they are while they are on that stuff unless you've been on it yourself and we have never been on versed and ketamine.  Dad gave him a thumbs up and he gave one back.  That's his oncologist in the background, she is great.
Hugging his candy while he waits for the sedation to wear off.  As soon as he was coherent enough he ate it all!!  We were very surprised cause he usually won't eat much of anything the rest of the day after sedation and chemo. Sometimes he'll sip on pop but that's about it.  He also ate a couple of mini chocolate donuts that he picked out at the gas station on the way...and kept it all down, yay! : ) ...AND he asked me to make him some german pancakes when we got home that night at 9:00 and ate one of those too!!

Spiderman on the third floor, we went to see an inpatient cutie from Idaho in the ICS overflow on the third floor. (Isn't it sad that they have an overflow of immune compromised kids from the 4th floor to the 3rd? That's too many kids with cancer!!)
  We also got to see three other cancer cuties that are associated with our Utah moms facebook group in clinic, and dropped some legos by the house of one who just finished his bone marrow transplant.  It was fun to meet and chat with all of  them a little, it's a 'club' you would never wish to be a part of, but has turned into a support group that has kept us sane through all of this.  A mom who is a part of that group invited us to be a part of her son's birthday who lost his battle with cancer in June by doing acts of kindness.  I thought of her and her son often yesterday and we were happy to bring a couple of smiles to some cancer cuties in honor of him.  His name is Tanner and he would have turned 20 yesterday.

We had such a good day yesterday, I was reminded as I kneeled last night of how blessed we are in so many ways, and how great it is that God cares so much about each of us that he answered our prayer about Tyson this morning and helped him manage the hunger.  It seems like a small thing, but is pretty big to a 3 year old who wants some food and doesn't really understand why he can't have any.  My heart is so full today of gratitude for the goodness of God and the goodness of people who do things like dress up like santa and bring smiles to kids in hospitals, and for families who try to make a day that is so difficult and heartbreaking into a day of kindness for others. While its hard to understand the heartache and pain and unfairness of trajedy, it makes the good extra sweet, and for that I am so thankful.

 Tyson't ANC is 600! Yay for above 500! We will be keeping him home for a major part of the holiday season anyway, just to be safe, but this means he doesn't have to completely stay home. Weight 14.8 (32.6lbs) which is down a little from 15kg (33lbs) two weeks ago, that surprised us a little, but now that I think about it, he was sitting on the scale because he was asleep when we got there and I just kind of plopped him on it still asleep, maybe that had something to do with the weight. PLTS 264, HCT 34, WBC 2.5, RBC 3.87  Interim Maintenance 2, day 36
We got home pretty late so I was really thankful for the dinner brought in to my kids, thank you!!  And thank you for all of the support and love and prayers for Ty

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tomorrow's chemo cancelled

This is probably a pretty boring post, but so be it.  We aren't going to PCMC tomorrow cause Ty's ANC is 500 boooo that's right on the border for neutropenic.  ANC is a calculation of white germ fighting cells and determines the best guess for how well your body can fight off infection.  Ty is feeling pretty good, and not fevering or anything and we have been so lucky so far cause the kids haven't brought home any sicknesses.  His ANC has been hovering in the 700 range (not stellar, 1500 is the bottom of normal, but good enough).  We decided to take advantage of that and had a combo birthday party on the 8th for Merin, Tyson, and Ryan who all have birthdays in December (I know what were we thinking!)  But we weren't sure what his ANC would be when his real birthday rolled around closer to Christmas.  It was lots of fun, I set up a card table for each kid with their own decorations.  Ty chose Buzz and Woody stuff and I did yellow and pink for Merin and Star Wars stuff for Ryan.  I have been pretty relaxed about stuff the last couple of weeks cause it has been such a relief to be above 500.  We have even ventured to the store, and went to a party at Randy's tumbling for about 1/2 hour.  Still with a mask on and lots of sanitizer, but it's been nice to not have to worry about every little germ, that my friends is exhausting!
We had some family over for the first time in months, but we still missed several of them due to illnesses...and so it was a small party but that's life right now...if you are sick or have been around someone ill you shouldn't be around someone with a low immune system, which seems like an easy concept but it is really a challenge because there are so many things that go around that are minor to normal healthy people but can really wreak havoc on a chemo kid, in fact we know of a little girl who is in intensive care on a respirator because she got a flulike virus and we are praying she can make it through but she is not doing well, if she lives she will probably be on oxygen the rest of her life because of the damage... because of the flu!  I know I go on and on about this topic but it seems scary when you are in the middle of it.  It just seems like a cruel irony that the 'medicine' used to treat cancer can lead to the death of the person it is treating!
Okay, enough of my ranting, I'll load some pictures on here of the birthday party and stuff.  It's been pretty low key around here only going to treatments every 10 days, it seems like forever before we head back to PCMC with such a big break!  And now we have an even bigger one!  Ty will probably retest blood on Monday for a possible Tuesday trip.  We'll see what the doc says tomorrow.

Reading stories tonight...see how his port site is kind of red?  He was accessed for his CBC right before this.  WBC 2.5, HCT 29.5, PLTS 313, ANC 475 which they round up to 500.  We are kind of stunned cause until about 9:00 tonight we were planning on going tomorrow, now we don't know what to do with ourselves

hand in mouth (cringe)  but see the hair?  He is already growing hair back cause the chemo he is on right now doesn't cause drastic hair loss like the ones he was on in September/Oct.  He's probably all done being bald. Sigh, I'm gonna miss that soft bald head. : )

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Park City, Clinic today

So we went to Park City this weekend for a military reintengration into the family thing that the soldiers are required to do after they get home from a deployment.  It was super fun that we had to do it in Park City!  We went to a very nice resort and even though we sat in meetings all day it was a great weekend!  We brought Tyson with us, and when I saw how nice our 2 room suite was, I decided to go get the rest of the kids.  That way they could have some fun with us when we weren't in our meetings, and Tyson could play with them instead of sitting through long meetings.  The hotel we stayed at had top notch service, they were very friendly, and when they noticed Tyson they asked if their mascot could come visit him.

So Murdoch the Moose came to play with us in our room!  It was so much fun! Thank you Canyons Resort!

We stopped at the LDS church museum on the way home

We also went to Olive Garden, the one downtown that paid for the Utah moms of cancer kid's mom's night out. Yep, we think that is awesome.  And Ty loves their noodles with white sauce : )
We went to Temple Square in SLC to see the beautiful lights!

The reason for the Season of course!
Monday night I let the kids open their early Christmas jammies present

And the next morning (this morning) we headed to PCMC for Ty's Clinic appointment, we stopped for treats on the way

They were doing Christmas tree crafts in the waiting room, and Ty picked out a cool hat from the hat tree

I forgot to ask his height, but his weight was 15kg!  Yay! he gained a teeny bit!  WBC 1.8, PLTS 219, HCT 27.7 ANC 700.  With ANC 700 he didn't qualify for a higher dose of MTX.  Yay for same doses as last week! : )  he got vincristine too.

The game tvs were all being used, in fact all of the chairs in infusion were being used too so we sat at the little play table.  Ty played with some Star Wars toys, which was fitting since he kept his new Star Wars jammies on.  With no back poke it was a quick visit, (2 hours) and the chemo hasn't affected Ty much yet.  He even ate on the way home which is quite unusual after a dose of chemo.  We got home just in time for some great neighbors to bring over some yummy dinner, thank you!  And as always thank you for the babysitting, love, prayers, and concern for Tyson.  We are so blessed and doing great!! 
We went to festival of trees to see Brenna's choir sing.  They had a 'hope tree' that represented all of the different cancers.  Gold is for Childhood cancer, and Orange is for Leukemia.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Short Ty update, St. Baldricks video

Getting ready for Christmas!!  We always LOVE something exciting and fun to look forward to!  Ty is feeling pretty good now, he didn't eat much those first couple days after treatment, but now he is eating good and loves helping me wrap presents while the big kids are at school.  His next appointment is Tuesday the 6th but it is count dependant so we'll see if he 'passes' on Monday.
 My second cousin's wife just emailed me a video of the St. Baldricks event.  It's so great when something cancer related makes us cry in a good way.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I can't say enough about this awesome group of people who SHAVED THEIR HEADS to raise money for childhood cancer.  They put together this fundraiser in a few short weeks, and their goal was to raise $10,000!  I am so excited to report they raised over $15,000!!!  That's a record amount for St. Baldricks events held in Utah!!  Way to go Rocky Mountain Dermatology!!  And THANK YOU for your generous donations of time and money and valuables that were raffled and auctioned.  Tyson is alive because of people like you, and your donations will help keep future cancer kids alive who didn't have a chance a few years ago. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving, Clinic on Black Friday, CureSearch video

Holding hands...I can't remember why they started holding hands but it was pretty cute at the time...I think Ty was crying that he had a headache or something...UPDATE!  I just remembered why they were holding hands, it is because they were watching Harry Potter and it was going to be a scary part he he!
We had a great Thanksgiving weekend! Tyson had a CBC on Wednesday to determine if he was eligible to get his next treatment on Friday the 25th. His ANC has to be .75 or 750 and his platelets have to be 75. We got great news!! His ANC was 1200! PLTS 189, WBC 2.2, HCT 24.8. Not only did he qualify to go in for his next treatment, his ANC was high enough to play with cousins and join in the Thanksgiving fun! Yay!

Enjoying Thanksgiving feast number one.  He actually ate a little turkey and almost that whole roll. : )

See that little girl in the middle of all those bargain crazy gamers??  She (my 11 year old) asked to go black friday shopping as one of her Christmas presents.  Let's just say she likes to be involved in anything that is exciting...well she definitely got a story to tell this night.  The Walmart XBOX games went on sale at 10:00 Thanksgiving night and so I said I would take her then since we would be headed to Utah early Friday morning.  We didn't really need anything so we told my pregnant sister we would try to get her some games.  See how she is in front??  You would think she would have scored a game, what you can't see is the 100 or so game crazed psychos behind us who practically smashed us to death trying to get to the games as soon as they took the cardboard off.  Let's just say I'm glad my baby is alive...and although I too think black friday is fun...it is definitely smart to stay away from the gamers if you value your life. 

Bright and early at PCMC.  We made the earliest appointment possible so we could be back in time for Thanksgiving feast #2 with daddy's side of the family. 

Technically the clinic was 'closed' this day, they only saw the people who absolutely had to be there (like Ty who's protocol is every 10 days right now and they try to stick to that as much as possible.)  At first we couldn't find where they had hidden the video games tv's so we got him some markers.  The child-life specialist (who used to get him toys and fun stuff to do) hasn't said boo to him in months now, I'm not sure why, maybe cause he's pretty mellow and doesn't attract a lot of attention...but it's ok cause we know our way around pretty good now and video games are the best distraction tool for him. 

Ahhhh we found the xbox : )  He didn't even notice his port access much, and didn't cry when they took the sticker off, he did flinch a little but kept playing so it worked out good. : )  It was a pretty routine visit other than the fact that his HCT was pretty low Wednesday so they took another CBC to see if they needed to do a transfusion while we were there.  To our surprise his HCT had risen a little to 27, but his ANC had dropped to 600!  That changed the amount of methotrexate they were giving him that day so he stayed at his most recent dose instead of increasing it.  For my records...WBC 1.7, PLTS 145. Weight 14.9kg, same as last visit
He slept the whole way home and wouldn't eat anything that day, though he did have a little root beer at the feast

And Grandma brought the scooter thingys so he had a great time racing around the church gym where we had our Thanksgiving #2 feast. 

Today he is super grouchy so we decided to keep him home completely from church.  Usually if his ANC is high enough we will take him to Sacrament meeting with his mask on, not Primary (sunday school for kids) cause that is too much exposure to kids...He hasn't been to primary since April : (   but he did get to say a part in the Primary presentation last week and he did a great job.  They let him go first before all of the other three year olds 'ate' the microphone.  We appreciated that a lot. : )
 He had a 4 hour nap today and a nap yesterday so that along with the super crankiness are giving us hints that his blood counts are probably pretty low.  We'll probably ask for a CBC in the next couple of days if he continues to be sleepy and grumpy.  He might just feel like crap cause chemo does that to you and he doesn't really know how to vocalize that he feels like crap.  He didn't eat anything yesterday or this morning, but tonight he has had about 6 celery's filled with peanut butter so who knows?  maybe that means he is starting to feel better and maybe won't need a transfusion this time.
His news story about Bristol the Football tee fetchin dog aired on Thanksgiving...and I think a couple more times this weekend too.  They did get a few of the little factoids wrong but that's ok cause they did such a great job and we are so thankful they aired his story and included the part about CureSearch.  We are so thankful for the Children's Oncolgy Group who CureSearch raises funds for!  Ty is on a study for them right now and they are a major contributor to Ty's high chance of survival!   The video below was made by Utah moms with Cancer Fighting Cuties and gives you an inside glimpse of what cancer is like for kids...I've posted it on my blog before but I thought I should again.  The little fighters on this video hold a special place in my heart, what is so sad and heartbreaking is also so inspirational cause these are very strong, very special kids.  Thank you for the prayers, love, dinners, care for our kids, and contributions to childhood cancer research.  We are in awe and humbled by the amount of good we get to see and experience because of Ty's cancer. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ty was on the news today! They did a great job!  We head to Primary Children's for his next appointment tomorrow bright and early and then rush home...  Hopefully we'll make it home in time for Thanksgiving #2.  We'll post more about the holiday and his treatment this weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving!!  And thank you KPVI NewsChannel 6.  Sometimes that clip works and sometimes it doesn't so if it isn't working you can also see it HERE

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ty's new buddy Bristol the football tee fetchin dog

We had a great time at the game today!!  It was SOOO nice to get out of the house and do something fun! We experienced today another example of how great people in our community are.  Ty was invited to be Bristol's special guest at the ISU game.  Who is Bristol you ask??  Only the coolest dog ever...
Sometimes Ty doesn't know what to do with all of the attention he gets...but I think he is catching on that it is pretty fun

Playing catch with the mascot Benny the Bengal...I think Bristol wants to join the fun
ISU's kicker came to meet him

And one of the coaches brought him a bunch of very cool gear..helmet, signed football and jerseys, and some cool shorts

We went early to the game to help Bristol warm up
Getting all ready to fetch the tee...how cool is this dog!!

Ty would run out and place the tee for Bristol
Then they would say 'get the tee' and let go and he would take off like lightning

Bristol also loves to play with footballs, Ty would toss it to him and he would bunt it right back with his nose
Ty stood at the entrance and watched the players go by
And during the game Ty got to sit on the floor and help send Bristol to get the tee

Running along the sideline after helping Bristol

And waiting for Bristol's next turn while we watch the game

Benny the Bengal gave him a ride on the scooter all over the field between quarters.  Ty (and the rest of us) had such a good time!!  Getting chemo, pills, back pokes, and pokies totally stink...but Ty might tell you that stuff like tonight might just make up for all the junk he has to go through!! Thank you Bristol for being such a cool dog!!  And Thank you for inviting Ty to be your special guest!! 

 By the way, he is feeling great right now!  He goes for his next dose of chemo the day after Thanksgiving.  He gets a higher dose of the methotrexate and then some more vincristine.  The vincristine makes his feet 'crunkily'...I think it makes them feel a little like they are asleep so he complains about that sometimes, but other than that he is doing good so we'll see what his next dose does.  Happy Thanksgiving!!  We can't even begin to list all of the things we are thankful for but our hearts are full to bursting as we think of them and as we think of all of you.  Thank You!!