Gabey D. is our wonderful firstborn son. He was diagnosed with A.L.L (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) in May 2007, and has been going through a 3 1/2 year chemo treatment. We are trusting God, and believe He will show Himself Mighty.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Induction is FINISHED. :):)

Gabey made it through his 29 days! We're so proud of him!
Today, we brought him in, and he had to get another bone marrow test, and another lumbar puncture with chemo. We had to wait for a very long time. It was a rough time for Gabey because he was really hungry. They didn't get him in til after 1pm. We were really hungry too, as we weren't about to eat and drink in front of him. :(
The test went just fine, and we'll know the results of that soon.

His blood counts are way up, even high, because of the decadron, I think that's what the Dr. said. It really helped to build his counts. He is at 11,090 for ANC, which is a little high, and his WBC white blood count is 20,160. We're so thankful, the Dr. said, he can just be normal now, and play with the other kids and stuff. I asked how quickly counts can go down, but she said we didn't have to worry about it this week, and that next week, he wasn't having chemo that would take down the counts. WOOHOOO. He's going to Sunday School on Sunday!

We took him straight to Target, and bought him some special presents for being such a trooper this month.

Pray, Pray Pray, that the next set of treatments do not include the PEG shots. There are 2 different paths he could be on, and one has extra shots, and one doesn't. Pray that he won't have to do the extra.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Last Day for Decadron!! WOOHOO

I've been counting the days til he's off the decadron. most of the side effects that he's dealing with right now, are from that.
the dr. said that his weight would go down fairly quickly after he goes off it.

Tomorrow is the big bone marrow, and lumbar puncture. This set of tests will determine what his next round of treatment is like. I probably won't know the results right away, but I'm praying that he's actually in remission, and gets to be on the "arm" that doesn't include the extra PEG shots. God knows what Gabey will need, and if he doesn't need them, I'm hoping the randomization puts him on the arm that doesn't do it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Trip to Burger King

We went for a long drive today, it was so nice.
We stopped for lunch, and for the first time in a month, Gabey got to go in. Burger King. Gabey wore a crown for a little while, and made his onion ring and french fry dance. We had a really great day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Drum Roll, Please........

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And Gabey's ANC counts are...... (hold your breath!)

3190!!!!Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
that's still lower than normal (5,000-10,000), BUT it is in the Adequate/Acceptable category!!

Sooo, Right now, he's NOT neutropenic!

I'm just soooooo THANKFUL, his little body is able to fight infection now!

God is the Great Creator, and He's creating those good white blood cells in Gabey's body, and making the chemo work to kill off the leukemia blasts!!
Lord, you are so AMAZING!

Jeffie still wants to be cautious, and I totally understand. We're not sure how quickly counts go down, or up. I have a feeling they won't go back down, but the chemo does drive down counts, so we're still going to stay careful....buuuuut, I will be able to take Gabey one a few outings this week!!
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Off the Decadron next Wednesday

So, Gabey will be able to stop taking the Decadron next Wednesday, and will stop being plagued by the Eating Frenzy side effect. I'm so thankful. He gained 2 1/2 pounds in 1 week. I'm sure most of it's water gain. I wanted to list the foods that he's been craving, and asking for nonstop. I've been chasing them with Cheerios, and trying to get him to take at least bites of fruit and veggies. He won't eat sweet stuff, or drink coolaid, or juice- just milk or water.
Here are the foods my little bottomless pit wants all the time.....
turkey lunchmeat
pizza rolls
hot dogs
black olives
Wheat Thins
grilled cheese
cheese slices

Friday, May 25, 2007

No call yet

I'll let you know as soon as I know what his ANC counts are. Hugs.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wonderful Visit

I'll have to write again when I get Gabey's ANC counts, but the visit went really well. His other counts are just great.

The Dr.s and Nurses are all just so loving, and so good to Gabey. It really helps my heart.

Dr. Gowans loved the craft, and said that Dr. Tekautz was going to be jealous, LOL. Dr. Gowans (Kate) is so good with Gabey. They were playing with her stethescope, and she was letting him really listen to Daddy, and herself, and he asked to listen to himself. At one point, she tapped the circle part, and Gabey made the funniest reaction, like major surprise. LOL. He reached right out and tapped it himself right away. I could tell he was on the verge of a smile the whole time.

Our one nurse, Jen is the COOLEST! She really gets along with Gabey; he really opens up to her. He whispers to everyone else, and when we went to the back room (with the train table) Jen came in and was talking to him, and he was outgoing with her. She was just chatting away with him, and took him to get a popsicle.

I just love these people. I am so thankful that they are so beautiful with Gabey. The tubey went in without any problems (he freaked out, but it went in right away). The chemo was wonderfully uneventful, and Gabey was playing with the train table, and talking about the one other girl in there. He asked where his hat was. The girl was wearing the cutest straw hat. She is beautiful. I remember she was in the hospital room next to ours when we were there.

We had our traditional McDonald's chicken nuggets afterward, and headed home.

Gifts for Dr.

We're heading to our weekly chemo in a little bit, so I did some crafts with Gabey so we could give them to his dr. and nurses. :) I'll come back on later to share his new ANC counts.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Newest Pics

Gabey is sporting a gift from the hospital... a Mater Costume!
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It's so good to see him goofy. He's making faces with Daddy.
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you can see the incision mark here, and there's a piece of tape, i just can't get off, LOL. it's cemented on. Then under the incision is the "tubey", his mediport. it's just under the skin, sometimes you can see the bump. there are little marks from the different times he's been accessed. it's been a huge blessing. it's so nice to be able to get his meds and blood samples straight from there, not a ton of pokes in his arm. the emla cream makes it totally numb, so he doesn't feel a thing.
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Gabey's outing

Hi! It's Christine. I thought these pictures would be cute. Shari came today to pick me up for a drive on my lunch. They were getting bored and it was a nice day. He can't really go any where there are people but we were able to go to the park. We had to be careful that he didn't play in the dirt and we kept sanitizing everyone's hands. It was so nice to see them. Gabey was so cute cause he said "take a picture of me by the tree." How could I resist. Here are some of the pictures I took:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This is Gabey doing his "poochie lip". LOL We aren't sure where he got it but it absolutely cracks us up.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Gabey was pushing Shari on the swing. It was cute cause he is weak and really wasn't moving Shari at all.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I love this picture of me and my sweetheart. I sure do miss him.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This is a picture that Gabey took of me. LOL We just have to get him a camera.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This picture was actually taken a week or so before we found out about the leukemia.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket "You can take a picture of me and Mommy."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Today's appointment

Today's appointment went very well. It was over really quickly. All they had to do was take some blood samples, and then give him his vincristine (chemo).
His numbers were down a tad from last week, but he's still over 500, so we're really thankful for that. The Dr. said that it's not a surprise, and that this may be the lowest we see his counts, since he's in the middle of the induction.

The decadron (steroid that acts like a chemo) is taking a toll on him. He's ravenous all the time, and pretty cranky. I'm so glad Jeff goes with us to the appointments, he was really upset when they were canulating (putting the needle in his metiport). He's numb, and didn't feel anything, but he still freaked out a bit.

Next Thursday, we get to go in the afternoon for his vincristine, it will be another quick easy appointment. Wooohoo!!

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This photo is on my main blog, but I thought you might like seeing Gabey's goofy face. He loves cheetos, and says "Woweee" after each one. :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Can't Praise the Lord LOUD ENOUGH!!

I am so excited to be able to share this miracle news!!
Our beautiful nurse called today, and shared the results from the bone marrow test from Thursday, and......

It was less thannnnnn.......


That means that the chemo has already kicked out almost ALL the leukemia blasts!!!!!
This is so much more than just good news! This is the best answer to our prayer that God could have given us. What an unspeakable gift! God is so GOOD!!

Now, Gabey doesn't have to get the test done again this thursday, and if things keep up this way, he'll be termed as a RER a rapid early responder!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Blessing for Today!!

We got a call from Dr. Gowans this morning, and she told us the results from the spinal puncture. His spinal fluids are still CLEAR!! Praise the Lord!
We asked about the results for the bone marrow tests, and she said she'd have to call back tomorrow about those. So, pray that they find VERY FEW cells left!!

Dear Lord, please let this chemo destroy the lymphoblasts that are crowding out the good cells in Gabey's body. We LOVE you, and trust your power, and your Will.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lots of Love

Since last week, we've been getting so many nice Get Well cards. I'm happy to display them, and to remember how many wonderful people are in our lives, and how much love we're surrounded by.

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Haircut for Gabey

Gabey's Auntie Shelly came over, and cut Gabey's hair. He's still really afraid of the clippers, so she cut his hair with scissors. She did such a great job! I never would have gotten it that short without clippers, and Gabey was calm as can be. He liked it when she blew the hair off his face. :)

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Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm Jealous

Last night, Gabey pointed to Jeff and said.....

"I like Daddy's medicine."

Then he pointed to me, and said....

"I don't like Mommy's medicine!"


Jeffie usually gives the crushed up chemo in some strawberry syrup, LOL.
So we're going to try mixing every thing in that stuff!! HAHAHA.

Gabey's Hair

I was very sad last night. I was playing with Gabey's hair, and I could tell it was changing already.

They have these awesome chemos, but they're not advanced enough to pick and choose which cells they kill. They just target all fast dividing cells, and that just happens to include hair cells, and nail cells.

They said in the beginning, it might thin out, and that in the next few months, he will probably start to lose it.
He's starting to get white hairs sprinkled throughout his hair, and I know soon, it will start to thin out. It just is so sad that it has to be that way. I know it's a little thing compared to this huge sickness that the Lord is bringing him through, but still, I'm sorrowful that his sweet little kid hair is going to be lost. We're going to cut it pretty short beforehand, so he doesn't get too upset by seeing his hair fall out.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cranky Gabey

Gabey has been through so much this past week. I'm not surprised that this picture turned out looking cranky.
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This is his new booster seat. We were planning on waiting to get him one, but since he has the mediport in, we didn't want the 5 point harness of his old one rubbing on his chest, and hurting it. We were able to use some of the gift money we got recently to purchase it. Now, I can rest easy that he'll be comfortable in the car.
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First Outpatient Appointment

We had our first outpatient appointment today, and Praise the Lord, it went really well!
Gabey stayed still for them to access his mediport (put the needle in). We had numbed the area before we left, so I'm sure he didn't feel it. I'm so glad. It went smoothly, Jeff said Gabey was fine, and the nurse accessed it in one quick try.

They took a blood sample, and when the results came back, it showed that his ANC (absolute neutrophil count) was up! That's the number that shows how well he can fight infection. His number was around 300 on Monday, and for a while in the hospital, he had to stay in his room and not play in the playroom.
Today it's at around 800!! That was a prayer answered.
5000-10,000- normal
over 1000- low risk, mild

500-1000- moderate risk
under 500- severe risk

His lumbar puncture went smoothly, and the bone marrow biopsy too. He was in recovery very quickly, and had chicken nuggets waiting for him when he woke up. He scarfed them down in a few bites! We went upstairs, and he was able to play in the playroom. The nurse came in and gave him his VCR (a chemo), and we were done!
I keep having a fear that we'll go there, and they won't let us leave. I'm always so relieved to be able to walk back out the doors!

The prayer now is that the results will come back showing that this chemo program is working well. If they're not good, then he'll have to have another set of bone marrow, and lumbar tests next Thursday. If they're fine, then he'll just get his usual VCR chemo.

I brought my camera, but didn't get to take pictures. He liked the Thomas train table in the playroom. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Light the Night Walk

Hello everyone! I just registered to participate in the Light the Night Walk for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It will take place on September 29th at Jacobs Field. If you would like to make a pledge or donation to help, you can visit this link:
Just look in the top left corner of the page, do a name search for me, Jeffrey Dippong, and it will take you to a page where you can contribute to my amount raised for the walk, as well as see the progress I'm making in fundraising. Thank you in advance for any contributions made!

My Version of "About Leukemia"

The way the doctor explained his cancer to us is this....

A white blood cell's normal function is to be born, mature to become effective, and then divide to make more cells.

The problem with the leukemia blasts is that they're little immature white blood cells that have forgotten how to mature, they stay baby, and ineffective. The major problem is that these immature cells start dividing! So, you have all these baby cells with no use at all, suddenly filling up the blood stream and the bone marrow. They start crowding out the good cells.
The real, mature white blood cells, and the other cells go down, and even the ones that are there aren't working very well.

White blood cells are the cells that fight infections, so when your white blood cell count is too low, that means there aren't enough working cells to fight the sicknesses that we come across every day. They call a person with low counts.... Neutropenic. (It's more involved than they way I'm explaining it.) They have to be really careful about the things they get around, like crowds, dirt, sick people.

The doctor said one of the best defences is just hand washing CONSTANTLY, lol. That is one of the biggest ways to pass sickness. We're trying to keep Gabey away from crowds, and people who have colds etc. Mostly, right now, we're just hanging around the house. We're home, and we don't want to have to get admitted again.

This is the survival rate copied from the Leukemia Society webpage....

During 1996- 2002 relative survival rates overall were:
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL): 65.2 percent overall; 90.5 percent for children under 5

About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (from Leukemia Society)

About Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
About 3,930 new cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) are diagnosed each year in the United States. It is the most common type of leukemia under the age of 19. Children are most likely to develop the disease, but it can occur at any age. Acute lymphocytic leukemia may be called by several names, including acute lymphoid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ALL results from an acquired (not inherited) genetic injury to the DNA of a single cell in the bone marrow. The disease is often referred to as acute lymphoblastic leukemia because the leukemic cell that replaces the normal marrow is the (leukemic) lymphoblast. The effects are: 1) the uncontrolled and exaggerated growth and accumulation of cells called "lymphoblasts" or "leukemic blasts," which fail to function as normal blood cells and 2) the blockade of the production of normal marrow cells, leading to a deficiency of red cells (anemia), platelets (thrombocytopenia), and normal white cells (especially neutrophils, i.e., neutropenia) in the blood.

Causes and Risk Factors
In most cases, the cause of acute lymphocytic leukemia is not evident. Few factors have been associated with an increased risk of developing the disease. Exposure to high doses of irradiation, as carefully studied in the Japanese survivors of atomic bomb detonations, is one such factor. Unlike other forms of leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia occurs at different rates in different locations. There are higher leukemia rates in more developed countries and in higher socioeconomic groups.
The current causes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children or adults are not known. Scientists continue to explore possible relationships with life-style or environmental factors but no firm conclusions have yet been reached. Given the amount of study, this suggests that multifaceted complex factors may be involved. It is extremely disconcerting to patients and their families to wonder what they may have done differently to avoid the disease. Unfortunately, at the present time there is no known way to prevent the disease. Acute lymphocytic leukemia occurs most often in the first decade of life but increases in frequency again in older individuals.

Symptoms and Signs
Most patients feel a loss of well-being. They tire more easily and may feel short of breath when physically active. They may have a pale complexion from anemia. Signs of bleeding because of a very low platelet count may be noticed. These include black-and-blue marks occurring for no reason or because of a minor injury, the appearance of pinhead-sized, red spots under the skin, called petechiae, or prolonged bleeding from minor cuts. Discomfort in the bones and joints may occur. Fever in the absence of an obvious cause is common. Leukemic lymphoblasts may accumulate in the lymphatic system, and the lymph nodes can become enlarged. The leukemia cells can also collect on the lining of the brain and spinal cord and lead to headache or vomiting.

Approach to Diagnosis
Medical history and physical examination
Complete blood counts
Bone marrow examination
To diagnose the disease, the blood and marrow cells must be examined. In addition to low red cell and platelet counts, examination of the stained (dyed) blood cells with a light microscope will usually show the presence of leukemic blast cells. This is confirmed by examination of the marrow which almost always shows leukemia cells. The blood and/or marrow cells are also used for studies of the number and shape of chromosomes (cytogenetic examination), immunophenotyping, and other special studies, if required.
Blood and bone marrow samples are used to diagnose and classify the disease. The following tests are used in the further classification of the disease. Examination of leukemic cells by cytogenetic techniques permits identification of chromosomes or gene abnormalities in the cells. The immunophenotype and chromosome abnormalities in the leukemic cells are very important guides in determining the approach to treatment and the intensity of the drug combinations to be used.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Spoonful of Sugar

I think Gabey would need a mountain of sugar to be ok with taking all these medicines.
He has 6 medicines to take, and most are 2x daily. They're all liquid, because of course he's too young for pills. Well, this is a huge fight. We're still working on helping him stay calm for it.
Also, he has a pretty strong gag reflex, and if one of them hits his mouth wrong, out they all come. We then have to give them all over again. Yikes. It's happened twice so far since he's started meds last week.
This evening, I at least got him to eat some smarties after every med. We're thinking of getting a ton of matchbox cars, and giving him one every time he takes it, just to help him learn to do it more willingly.

Pray that he keeps his meds down, and learns to take them without getting hysterical and fighting every time.

The Beginning

last Sunday Gabey woke up just crappy. he said his leg hurt, and he didn't want to eat or drink. all day, he just was just laying around like a slug on the couch. i assumed he had a flu. by Monday, he still wasn't feeling well, and still wouldn't drink. that was what made us decide to take him in. i thought he might have to get on an iv to get re hydrated or something.we went to a PEDs urgicare at Fairview, at about 4pm and when we mentioned his leg, they took x-rays, and then took some blood, to check for infection.after a long time of waiting, they came in and said they were moving us to Cleveland Clinic, because they found that his blood had some abnormalities in it, that he was anemic.we totally were still thinking infection. so Gabey and i rode in the ambulance to Cleveland Clinic Ped's. Monday night at about 8:30.test.... test... was horrible to see him. they had to take blood a lot, and he was on an IV. what a mess. then they came in on Tuesday, and broke the news that they had found blasts in his blood, which pointed to cancer.oh, guys, i was a mess. i was just praying and praying. i couldn't really eat. i was just heartsick.but, after it sunk in... the news got better and better. the tests have shown that his type of leukemia is called ALL, which is the most common, best treatable cancer. his age is another positive factor, at responding better. plus, after some genetic study, his chromosomes showed positive, i can't think of the details on that.on wed, they put him under to do a bone marrow biopsy, and a lumbar puncture, and they put in a meta port all at the same time.the lumbar puncture was to make sure there weren't any cells hiding in his fluids, and PTL, there aren't!the meta port is in his chest just under his skin, and has a tube going to his vein by his heart. it makes it so he doesn't have to keep getting poked. (oh, this was a miracle for me! not to have to see his arms getting poked anymore, i hated his pain.) they just numb that area, and put the needle in there, and they can access all his blood tests, give him chemo, and do IV all from that. we call it a "tubey"he's had a lot of chemo already, and this month is sort of full force. it's called induction, and some patients are even in remission after that. but after this month, they'll see how he is, and we'll find out about the next block of time, and what treatment he'll get.he's got such low white blood count, that we have to be extremely careful to keep him away from any infections. so we're hanging around the house, and have to wash all the time. anyone who wants to visit, has to wash, or sanitize... and if any one's not feeling well, they'll have to stay away.I'm thankful we have our church services on the Internet live stream, because he'll need to stay away from church until his counts go up.but God is totally in charge, and He loves Gabey, and has been really moving to guide us through this. I know that we'll come out of this even closer to Him, and to each other.