Week #11, LTM Therapy
OK, I freely admit it, I am a Caringbridge junkie. I have an obsessive need to check on “my” kids and will always make time to get a few hours’ worth of CB surfing each day, even if that means my family has to eat fast food, off paper plates, sitting on an un-vacuumed floor, wearing dirty underwear. Sometimes I wonder what I used to do with all my “free” time before I discovered this world out here …. oh, I don’t know … maybe cook and clean house and do laundry? Anyway, I have dozens and dozens of sites I check on randomly, and about twenty that I check on at *least* once a week, and around five or six that I check on every day, fearful of missing a single journal entry.
One of those daily-requirement-sites is an awesome kid named Spencer Rocket, who many of you already know, I’m sure. But for those of you who have never heard of Spencer, or have only been loosely following his story, I have some pretty fabulous news:
SPENCER ROCKET FLEW BACK HOME TO CALIFORNIA TODAY, YIPPEEEE!!!
What’s my connection to Spencer? Nothing, really, except he’s an adorable little guy who has completely stolen my heart. I met his mom Kerri on my All-Kids online Support Group, and because Spencer is only a year younger than Kendrie, and cute as they come, Kerri and I used to joke that we were going to force the two of them to go to their Sr. Prom together, in 2017. Spencer was diagnosed on Kendrie’s birthday, Sept 2, 2003, with T-cell ALL. T-cell is not as common as B-cell and is generally considered a higher-risk leukemia. Nonetheless, Spencer was doing great until Feb, 2004, when doctors discovered Spencer had relapsed in his central nervous system. And so began their long and incredibly difficult journey.
The doctors had a difficult (and I use that term lightly --- I mean DIFFICULT) time getting Spencer back into remission after the relapse. Once they did, Spencer and his parents, Kerri and Brian, left everything that was familiar in their life and moved cross country, to Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, where Spencer received an Unrelated Umbilical Cord Blood Transplant on May 5, 2004.
Since transplant, Spencer has done very well, but that doesn’t take away from the cost (both fiscal and emotional) that his family has faced, living in a strange apartment in a strange city, thousands of miles from home, giving up their jobs and home and friends and family and everything that is “home” for six months; watching other transplant families struggle with complications from the procedure, several losing the battle, and worrying all the time about Spencer. I have been asked on occasion why Kendrie is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia; why don’t her doctors just jump straight to a transplant? The answer is that a transplant is the most extreme form of cancer treatment possible; truly a measure of last resort. That’s not to say some kids don’t do beautifully, and Spencer is certainly an example of that, but it’s not a road *anyone* would elect to go down, given the choice.
I have spent the past eight months praying for Spencer, his parents and his medical staff. (And the chefs at Maggiano’s!) I’ve sent up positive thoughts, meditated, crossed my fingers, held my breath …. I’ve done everything but sacrifice a live chicken in the town square and if I thought for one brief second that would have helped Spencer, I would have braved the wrath of PETA! Thank goodness it wasn’t necessary. Now, I am SO happy to report that Spencer has been cleared to return home to California and finish out his treatment at home. Please, if you have a minute, stop by Spencer’s site and give him and his family a note of congratulations!
Spencer, we have followed your journey closely and couldn’t be happier tonight that you have been allowed to return home, to your familiar house with familiar toys and faces. Kerri and Brian, your dedication to Spencer these past eight months has been such an inspiration to me! Thank you for sharing his story through the Caringbridge journal; it has been entertaining and informative. Relax back at home and get ready --- we’re coming for a visit, if not before, then at least in 2017 in time for the Prom!
WORST PART ABOUT CANCER TODAY:
Well, I’m a little disappointed that we don’t get to meet Spencer’s family this week like we had hoped. My mom said they were planning to drive from North Carolina to Florida and we were going to meet them on the way. I was so excited and had been bugging mom to take me to Spencer’s site every day, and then we found out last week that Spencer gets to go straight back home to California, so no visit for us! If mom thinks I’m going on a “Blind” Prom Date, she’s crazy. I don’t care how cute he looks in his pictures!
BEST PART ABOUT CANCER TODAY:
Ok, who am I kidding? I can’t even hold a grudge, since I’m so happy for Spencer that he gets to finally go home! I can't imagine being gone from my friends and toys and bike for that long, and especially being stuck in an apartment with my parents for six months! I hope the next time he visits the East Coast for a check-up we get to hook up, though!