Thursday, March 26, 2009

R.I.P. Tito Toto

Sadly, we've lost another close family member to cancer. Last night, my Tito Toto (tito is uncle in tagalog) passed away after a very short battle with lung cancer. It hadn't been detected more than a few weeks ago.

RIP, Tito.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“I Can”, by Isabella Icatar

I meant to post this a while ago, but never had a chance.  While at the hospital, Isabella wrote a book.  Click the pages below to see a larger view of each page.

I Can


By Isabella Icatar100_0743

I can read books.


I can play a lap harp. (See video)


I can spell words.


I can play Uno.


I can throw a ball.


I can write with both hands.


I can be brave.


That last one is especially touching as it shows Isabella getting a shot in her leg.  She even got down to the details of showing the red blood in the syringe.  This amount of self-awareness from Isabella is both surprising, yet saddening.  All a 5 year old kid should be worried about is learning how to read or wondering when their next play date is, not learning how to swallow pills or remembering which leg gets the shot this time.

When Isabella first started the chemo, we would praise her and tell her how brave she was, and she would immediately cry.  My pseudo-psycho-analysis was that Isabella didn’t want to be “brave” because she had come to the conclusion that you can only be brave during bad times, or that something bad must be happening that warrants courage.  I explained to her that it was ok to be both brave and scared at the same time, and that sometimes, both mommy and me are scared too.  So for a while, we tried not to use the word “brave”.

Julianne and I have discussed how much we think Isabella knows is going on and we are surprised at how much she picks up just from random conversations we have.  Once when I was with Isabella in the hospital she just asked out of the blue, “What is in my head again?”  I then explained that she had some unhealthy brain cells in her head that caused her headaches and that although we got most of them out, she needs to take the medicine to get the rest of the unhealthy cells out so that the healthy cells can keep growing.  We emphasized to her that she did nothing wrong that caused this and that sometimes it just happens.  She then started feeling the scar on her head and asked if that’s where they took the tumor out and I said yes.  She wanted to see where they took the tumor from, so I took a picture of her head and showed it to her.  I then asked her if she wanted to see an example of them taking a tumor out of someone’s head and she said Yes!  I found a video on Youtube and Isabella was absolutely fascinated by the video and she watched it several times.

That interaction plus her drawing marked a change in Isabella.

Pretty soon, we’ll be back at the hospital and Isabella’s going to have to be brave again.  We’ll bring her book with her to remind her that she can be brave and we’ll all be there to be brave, and hopefully a little less scared, together.

Blood Counts Are Normal

Modern technology is great. Isabella's blood tests from this morning came back already and all of her blood counts are normal. So we are on schedule for the stem cell harvest next week, and Chemo Cycle 4 a week from tomorrow. We should have a day or two home next week before chemo starts.

Right now, Julianne is out with the kids enjoying a beautiful Spring afternoon at the playground. Hopefully, Winter has left us for good for this year.

20,000 Hits

It took a little bit longer than the first 10,000 hits, but yesterday, we had the 20,000th hit on the page. The updates have been fewer, which is a good thing as we try and get back to a normal life at home. My work has been steady, the girls are going to school, Nathaniel continues to wreak havoc around the house, and for a couple weeks it's been nice to forget about Isabella's cancer. Isabella is almost a "professional" bowler on the Wii. The main thing that has changed is that Julianne's full-time job is now staying home to care for the kids, which in itself is fine, since she doesn't get called in the middle of the night to deliver a baby anymore.

If you recall my "Things I Miss (Daddy Version)" post, it lists the things I missed since Isabella got sick. We've managed to do most of that list besides visiting Dave and Busters, but we can take care of that soon.

Today, Isabella gets another blood draw and we are hoping that her white counts are back to normal. If they are, we are scheduled to proceed with the stem cell harvest on Monday for 3 or 4 days. For this, we will be required to stay at the hospital. Then, next Saturday, we will begin Chemo Cycle 4. One good thing about postponing chemo for another week is that this weekend is my birthday. So instead of spending my birthday in the hospital, we'll be able to get out and do something....maybe even go to Dave and Busters! :)