Allistaire’s bone marrow test came back: “in morphological remission,” which means that under the microscope, there is no evidence of cancer. Of course the microscope cannot detect less than 5% but this is the extent of the testing they do at this point and we are so very thankful.
The results of the echocardiogram showed a shortening fraction of 31% which is the same as it has been four out of five times the test has been run. The doctor believes this shows that this is Allistaire’s norm, and thus the “drop” from the one test of 41% does not accurately reflect an indication of damage to the heart. If I recall correctly, she asked the echocardiogram tech what the norm is and he said that over 30% is the normal range. The cardiologist said that for Allistaire’s age, anything over 28% is within the normal healthy range. All of this to say, they feel good about going ahead with Allistaire’s chemo according to the standard protocol. This means they will not be subtracting any medications or chemo treatments, nor reducing dosage.
Another victory was that Allistaire weighed in at 13.8 kg which is the highest she has ever weighed and back to her weight prior to getting sick. Last night Allistaire ate an individual size container of yogurt, a small baby food jar of tender beef with spinach, a small container of applesauce, several slices of cheese and a handful of cereal. We’re trying to pack on the pudge in anticipation of the oon to be drop in appetite.
I am so very relieved to be done with another round of chemo and to have yet another bone marrow test result behind us. Life feels very strange right now – a bit like the suspended feeling of the beginning. By the time we return to the hospital on Monday, we will have spent one solid month at home. Even despite the fact that we returned to the hospital 12 days in that time, it has been wondrous at home. Of course there are things like this very moment, sitting at the kitchen table, watching the wind move the trees and ring the wind chimes on the front porch, knowing that in half an hour I’ll drink my daily cup of 4pm coffee that I make myself with my happy little french press, knowing that Solveig is upstairs happily building a Lego house for her Lego horses while Allistaire naps – there are so many simple wonderful things about being home, but by far the best has been to have Allistaire and Solveig play together. Nobody makes Allistaire as happy as Solveig. Solveig is such an amazing big sister, even at her near worst, she is simply over-exhuberant in her affections or in wanting to add one more item to Allistaire’s dress up outfit, or in her perseverance in suggesting a particular game she is simply sure Allistaire must surely want to play. Not having Solveig and Allistaire together will be the hardest and saddest part of our return to the hospital.
Last night I suddenly remembered to be anxious because I realized it had been two days since Allistaire’s bone marrow test and we had not heard anything. Waiting continues to be something I resist and really actually despise, and yet it seems to continue to be true that waiting is in fact an opportunity. Waiting is a pocket of time in which I am offered the opportunity to once again kneel in submission to my Father, to the God of the Universe. In the simple activities that move me from one point in time to another, I pray to God as I brush my teeth, as I take out my contacts, as I lay down to sleep, as I rise in the morning and shower, as I drive the car. Mundane tasks which carve out mental space for me to once again look the Lord in the eye and remember what it’s all about. A few days ago I was organizing the chaos in our TV cabinet and came across a lone VHS Veggie Tales, “The Ballad of Little Joe.” It is essentially a retelling of the story of Joseph of the old Testament and how his brothers despised him and sold him into slavery. Eventually, after a series of events, including being thrown in prison, Joseph is given one of the most important roles in the kingdom and ends up being able to provide for the saving of his family from famine. The summary statement at the end of the video goes something like this, “what man meant for harm, God meant for good.” God meant for good. Last night and this morning as I held my head in my hands, I asked the Lord again to help me cling to him, to hold my hands open, to receive what He might give and allow Him to take what He might take. I asked the Lord again, to be near to me, to help me put my faith and hope in the truth, that come what may, God means it for good.
For now, it is Friday afternoon, and for another couple days we can hold the reality of cancer at bay and simply enjoy being together as a family. The buttermilk is in the fridge waiting anxiously to be turned into the best pancakes you’ve ever tasted. Our to-do list is blackened with heavily indented lines declaring accomplishment from top to bottom. Yes, I’ll have to pack Allistaire and I up, but that can wait for Sunday night. For now it is Friday afternoon on a windy exhilarating Spring afternoon.