What can I even say about leukemia? It's the worst. 

CANCER is the worst.

There are very few people who haven't been affected by this horrible disease in some way. My hope is that if you're reading this, it's out of sheer curiosity and not because of a recent diagnosis.

If it is, indeed the latter, then my family is sending a ton of love, support, prayers and hugs your way. The bad news is that it's going to be a long ride. The good news is that most pediatric leukemias have a wonderful prognosis. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

A lot of people ask me how we found Reid's leukemia. The short answer is INSTINCT.

Always, always, always trust your mama (or daddy) instinct. It is seldom wrong and it will be your first line of defense if you do in fact have to deal with a diagnosis.

Reid had been acting "off" for a few weeks. Fussing when we put him in the high chair and in the car seat. Acting a little lethargic. There was nothing that specifically clued me in, but I can tell you that I KNEW he would have leukemia. In the weeks before his diagnosis, a voice just kept saying "leukemia" over and over in my head. I didn't know he actually HAD it. I just had a feeling that he would. But, it seemed so silly that I didn't even tell my husband - and I tell him everything. 

Again, instinct.

So, other than the crazy voices in my head, there wasn't anything obviously wrong. I almost didn't take him to the pediatrician, but that ol' instinct kicked in again and at the last minute I did. 

He didn't come home for seven months.

Even though Reid just seemed out of sorts, we realized in hindsight that there were some clear warning signs. There are several things to be aware of, among them headaches, lethargy, fever and bruising. 

You can find a complete list of signs and symptoms HERE.

Reid was too young to tell us if he was hurting, and he hadn't yet started spiking fevers. But, oh the bruising.

If your child falls and gets a bruise, that's NORMAL. If your child sits in a high chair and gets bruises when he places his forearms on the tray, that's NOT.

Reid was black and blue in very abnormal spots. I always checked him for random bruising because we were told he had a naturally low platelet levels. We often got them checked and our fabulous pediatrician warned me ahead of time to bring him in if I ever saw anything out of the ordinary.

This is a photo I took two days before he was diagnosed. He had fallen face-first on the kitchen rug. He didn't even land too hard, but you can still see the exact outline of the rug on his forehead.

He also had something called petechia (broken blood vessels) all over his body, which I now know is a sign that something could be wrong. They look like tiny purple or red dots, and they do not subside or change color when pressure is applied.

Once he was diagnosed, we were sent straight to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for treatment. Reid received the very best care and we never saw a single bill. They take care of absolutely everything and work diligently to make a very difficult situation as easy for the family as possible.

Whether you decide to get treatment at St. Jude or elsewhere doesn't matter as much as getting treated right away. 

Reid started chemotherapy within two days of his diagnosis and went into remission after the first round - this is what you want to happen. It is determined by detecting Minimal Residual Disease (MRD), which dictates probability of both treatment success and potential relapse.

The following blog posts detail some of our time in Memphis and go into greater detail about his treatment plan and the residual side effects. They posts are somewhat sporadic and messy, but that's because I was somewhat sporadic and messy when I wrote them.

We also had a CaringBridge page, where I documented specific medical info and talked more about the actual treatment process. Feel free to check that out. 


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