Sunday, January 31, 2010

Keep On Keepin' (Her) On

Howdy, y'all! So you like the new hair, huh? It was a big hit at the clinic as well, but Georgia decided that a pink mohawk required quite a bit of upkeep, so she asked Daddy to "take it off" yesterday. She much prefers the soft peach fuzz she's sporting now, and so does Mommy. I've missed seeing that little noggin the past eight or so years! So here she is with a cute new hat, her cool new glasses, and a trading card from a new friend we made at the hospital - Boone, the Therapy Dog (aka "75 lbs. of Fur and Love").


Friday's clinic appointment went really well - her ANC was back down a little bit from last week, but the rest of her counts looked good. I got mixed up and thought she would have IV meds plus the procedures this week, but "all" she had was a Bone Marrow Aspiration (BMA) and a round of Intrathecal (IT) chemotherapy (which they inject directly into the spinal fluid while she's asleep). As I read more and learn more, I realize I was also mistaken in thinking that since the initial Lumbar Puncture (spinal tap) showed that the spinal fluid was clear, we would be through with LPs and the like. In fact, leukemia has a habit of hiding in places like the spinal fluid, so we will continue with IT chemotherapy throughout Georgia's treatment in order to make sure we keep the bad cells out of there for good. That said, her back did not bother her at all this weekend, which was a welcome change from the Day 8 BMA and IT, after which she was pretty uncomfortable for a few days. So now, we wait. And pray! And think positive! And do happy dances! Whatever it takes to get great results on Wednesday and the go-ahead to move on to the next phase of treatment. So, as always, please please please "Keep Georgia On Your Mind" this week!

And thanks AGAIN to everyone who's donated to Will's Team in Training - he's at nearly 70% of his goal! How awesome would it be if we got there and kept on going?! Your donations not only help Georgia, but all kids battling blood cancers, so if you haven't given already, please do. Then email us at the address in the sidebar for your Official Georgia Bracelets! Speaking of which, we should be getting some more in this week(?), so for those of you who have already emailed us, your bracelets should be on their way to you soon!

Here's to good news on Wednesday! : )

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And the winner is ...


PINK!

In celebration of Georgia's Day 29 procedures tomorrow, we opened up "Daddy's Barbershop" and gave her a new "do" - with the color courtesy of YOU! We had ourselves a real barn-burner of a poll there, folks, but ultimately, Pink edged out Purple and Green by three votes. Thanks to everyone who voted!

Now Georgia is ready for action in the morning, and we'd love all the prayers, healing thoughts, and good vibrations you can spare so that when the results come back (probably not until Wednesday), she can be deemed a Rapid Early Responder and, more importantly, officially in Remission! Imagine that, going from Diagnosis to Remission in four weeks. If anyone can do it, we know Georgia can, and your continued support plays a big part in her success, so keep it up!

And in case you hadn't noticed, our US map is nearly full, and as of yesterday, we've received comments from EVERY continent! Check the posts from 1/23 and 1/26, and you'll see two comments from scientists stationed in Antarctica right now - how cool is that? So if we could just get some love from Big Sky Country (we're looking at you, Montana and North Dakota!), Georgia's Quest for World Domination will be complete! And even if your state or country has already been counted, let us know where you're from anyway - Georgia likes to imagine all of the people reading her blog and learning about ALL, so say hi and tell us something about your little corner of the world. And after Georgia beats leukemia, you can all come over for ice cream. ; )

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Time's Almost Up!

Make sure you cast your vote in the color poll over in the sidebar - it's closing in a few hours!

Also, if you'd like to learn more about ALL, click here for a wonderful guide from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And here is an interesting article on pediatric cancer research that was sent in by a dear reader in Missouri. : )

And Georgia says, "Happy Tuesday!"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Digs

So how do you like the new design? We love it! Our new friend, Michelle, at Shabby Creations worked with Georgia via email, and they came up with the perfect expression of Georgia, a few of her favorite things, and the spirit with which she's approaching her journey to recovery. If you're in the market for a blog design, click on the Shabby Creations button at the bottom of the sidebar, and tell Michelle that Georgia sent you.

Speaking of, Georgia had another good day at the clinic yesterday - her ANC was up from 40 to 400, so while it's still under 500, the risk of infection this week is not as high as it was last week. Dr. Neff said she's doing so much better than most people are at this point, and it looks like we're "all systems go" for the Day 29 procedures next Friday. Georgia has already planned a celebratory carbo-loading meal for next Thursday night - starring Trevor's world-famous Super Cheese Lasagna - so she hopefully won't be quite as hungry as we ALL were after the Day 8 procedures!

Now on to some business: THANK YOU so much to everyone who has donated to Will's Team in Training - he's over half-way to his goal, so let's keep it up! Donate and then email us to order up some "Keep Georgia on Your Mind" bracelets - the address is in the sidebar. We've had such a great response, I've already had to order more bracelets, which Georgia is thrilled about because that means more money will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and more of you will be sporting her cool orange bracelets.

And for those of you keeping score, we are EIGHT states away from filling up our map, so we're looking for comments from the great states of Delaware! Indiana! Montana! Nebraska! New Jersey! North Dakota! Pennsylvania! and West Virginia! And we're two continents away from conquering the WORLD, so spread the word to your friends in South America and any penguins you know in Antarctica!

Also, don't forget to vote for your favorite color in the sidebar - the poll is closing soon! Thanks again for all of your support, and Georgia love to everyone!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

They're Here!


Your Official "Keep Georgia on your Mind" bracelets are here! Want one? Or four?! Here's how to get them: We've set up a separate email address for ordering bracelets, so send your mailing address and the number of bracelets you want to georgiabracelets@gmail.com. Then, if you haven't already, we encourage you to make a donation to Will's Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - click on his picture over there in the sidebar, and it will take you to his donation page. If everyone donated just one dollar per bracelet, that would go a long way in getting Will to his fundraising goal. And if we go beyond that, even better!

Thanks, everyone, and be thinking good thoughts for Georgia's clinic appointment tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sittin' Pretty


While she rests in between treatments, Georgia is feeling tired, but otherwise, pretty great! This Friday will be just like last Friday - CBC and IV meds only - so hopefully, she'll respond just as well as she has up to this point. She's still eating like a truck driver and is almost back up to her pre-admission weight, and I swear she's grown about a foot! I think it's the hairdo. Anyway, we're holding steady and enjoying hearing from so many of you!

Which brings us to a giant THANK YOU to everyone who's written in from all over the country and beyond and THANK YOU to everyone who's passed the word along. At last count, we're up to 27 states, so over half-way there - keep it up!

Also, we've added a poll over there in the sidebar: Pick your favorite color from the choices given. The results will be revealed in a most special way ...

Finally, with all the prayers and positive energy we've received, we want to encourage everyone to spread the love and good wishes to all children in the fight against cancer and other major health issues, like our 2 month old friend, Liam, who is currently being treated for Dilated Cardiomyopathy at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers - they will feel them!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Friday Report

Georgia had a nice, short day at the clinic today - just a blood draw and IV medicine through her port. One thing we learned from the CBC is that she is currently "neutropenic," which means that her white blood cell count is low, specifically that her neutrophils (the white blood cells that help fight bacterial infections) are low. When a patient's Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) (total number of neutrophils) drops below 500, the risk of infection is high. Today, Georgia's ANC was 40, so needless to say, we are being extra vigilant in our efforts to keep everything and everybody around her clean. Lots of handwashing! But low ANCs are a normal, expected part of treatment because for all the good chemotherapy does in destroying the bad cells, it also damages or destroys some good cells, too. We'll be monitoring her temperature throughout the next few days, but she feels fine, just tired.

That said, Georgia was absolutely NOT too tired to pull her 13th tooth this evening! She's really very good at it (she's way ahead of me now, 9 to 4), and she'd been itching to pull one ever since Ivy's first tooth started wiggling last month. She could barely keep her hands out of Ivy's mouth! I think now she's got her eye on a molar that might be moving the tiniest bit - stay tuned ...

In other news, Georgia "Skyped" with her class yesterday, and it went really well. So cool to be able to see her friends and teachers! We plan to check in every so often and maybe do some projects that way as well. And if anyone else is interested in visiting with her over Skype, let us know.

Also, we've added a map in the sidebar to show where all of our wonderful readers and well-wishers are located. If you're writing from outside of Texas (or the country!), make sure you tell us in your comment, and we'll add your state to the map. Georgia wants to reach all 50 and beyond - spread the word!

Finally, we've ordered orange "Keep Georgia on Your Mind" bracelets and should be getting them soon, so reserve yours today!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We're Number ONE!

We got some great news today! Spectacular, actually. Remember that number from Friday's biopsy that we wanted to be low? How about ONE PERCENT! Yes, our Georgia Girl has amazed us all yet again as the percentage of leukemia cells in her bone marrow dropped - more like plummeted - from 60 to 1, with one week of treatment. Incredible!

What this means in the immediate future is that Georgia will not have another bone marrow biopsy until the all-important Day 29, when we want that percentage number to be a big fat ZERO. That same day, her bone marrow will also be tested for Minimal Residual Disease - leukemia cells that somehow avoided detection in the biopsies. The results of these two tests will show if she is a Rapid or Slow Early Responder, which determines the next phase of her treatment.

So while we are thrilled beyond measure with today's results, we know, and were reminded by Dr. Neff, that this is just the first positive step in a long journey. While "getting rid" of the present leukemia cells is paramount, keeping them gone takes up the majority of the treatment plan. So keep those prayers, healing thoughts, and good vibrations coming because we can feel them and see them making a huge difference in Georgia's progress!

What else can you do? Well, I'm glad you asked because Georgia has been chosen to be the Honored Hero of our new friend Will's Team in Training - a fundraising effort in conjunction with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Will is riding in a 100 mile bike race from Austin to Shiner, TX in May, and he and his wife, Dianna, wanted to honor Georgia by participating and raising funds in her name. If you feel so inspired, click on Will's picture in the sidebar to the right, and it will take you to his Team in Training page, where you can learn about Will and make a donation to help fight ALL and other blood cancers. You're not only helping Georgia get better, but you're helping her help other kids get better, too - and she is just as determined about that as she is about her own recovery. Go Georgia! Go Will! Go DONATE! : )

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Word from the Girl of the Hour!

Rockin' my spiky "do" today!

Hi everybody! It’s great to know y’all are thinking of me. I’ve got lots of cards and so many balloons, my room looks like a circus tent. We placed bets on the balloons that we think will hold up the longest, and so far I think my bet will win. : ) I’ve got lots of things to do, so don’t think I am getting bored! My esteemed nurse and sister, Ivy, is one of the best things about being home. She’s fun, she makes me laugh and she is forever by my side. We are thinking of giving out rubber LIVESTRONG-type bracelets, and we will tell y’all when we decide. Thank you for all your support and please leave a comment. BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 My nurse Ivy and my balloons!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Second Round Down

A long day, but a good day. We went to the clinic early this morning to prepare for Georgia's second round of treatment. First, the nurse had to access her port-a-cath to draw blood and administer her IV medicine. The cool thing about the port is that the nurses can access and deaccess it with ease, and it saves her from getting a million pokes! Everyone had a good chuckle at Mommy's expense because I might have put a bit too much numbing cream on her chest before we left home. Well, I'm learning!

Our awesome "hem-onc" (hematology-oncology) doc, Dr. Neff, was pretty busy this morning, so we switched up the schedule, and Georgia got her IV medicine before her other procedures. Her blood counts were great - her Hemoglobin count was even back up in the normal range. Dr. Neff said the two units of blood she got before leaving the hospital really "juiced" her up! With treatment, we know that her counts will go up and down, but it was nice to hear the word "normal" about something.

We had to wait quite a while before Georgia's procedures over at DCH Day Surgery, and the only problem with that was she was starving! The steroid regimen usually increases your appetite anyway, plus she had to stop food and liquids at midnight last night to prepare for surgery, so by 1 pm, you can imagine how hungry she was! And as a show of solidarity in the name of the Peachy Keens, Trevor and I were also fasting. And starving. Which was only made worse when we turned on the television after yet another delay and were treated with a parade of food commercials! We even saw one for appetizers for your cat - come on! But finally, it was our turn, and, in about 30 minutes, Georgia sailed through without any problems.

So now we wait. In our first biopsy last Thursday, there were 60% leukemia cells in the bone marrow, and we're hoping that today's biopsy shows less than 5% - amazing that it can go down that far that fast, but it's possible! If so, Georgia won't need another biopsy until the all-important Day 29, when we want that percentage to be ZERO! If it hasn't gone down that much this time, we'll check again next Friday. The good news is, we know her spinal fluid was clear of leukemia cells last week and this week, so it seems the bad cells are limited to the bone marrow, and we shouldn't have anymore spinal taps after today. But she'll continue with various intrathecal chemotherapy medicines (injected into the spinal fluid) throughout treatment. We should get some results from today's biopsy early next week, so everybody think LOW numbers!

As usual, Georgia inspired and amazed all of the doctors and nurses we saw today. They can't believe how much she can - and wants to - participate in her care. I'm no doctor - I chose law school over medical school because of all that math : ( - but I don't think you have many peds patients helping take their own blood and access their ports! She continues to tolerate everything very well, but her back is pretty sore after today's round of pokes. We'll take it easy this weekend, and see what news next week brings.

Again, we SO appreciate everyone's kind words and prayers - keep it up! The more you spread the word, the more support we get, and the more we can all help our girl. We're looking into some other ways to share Georgia's journey like blood drives, bone marrow registration drives, and rubber LIVESTRONG-type bracelets. We're also going to visit her classroom via Skype, so hang on Parkside friends, she's coming soon! And if you have any other ideas about how we can share her story and hopefully help other kids with ALL and other childhood cancers, let us know.

Also, as a housekeeping matter, we have Comment Moderator turned on to avoid comment spam - they find you everywhere! So, if you leave a comment and don't see it right away, check back because we just haven't published it yet. That said, the wireless at the hospital and the clinic isn't always so reliable, so we may have lost a few before we could get to them. If it's been more than a day or so, and you still don't see your comment, repost it - we're not rejecting it! :)

Thank you, thank you, thank you - and lots of Georgia love to all of you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How We Got Here - and Where We're Going

12/30 - Georgia's 10th birthday 

For the previous two weeks, Georgia had been feeling "not herself." For the first few days, she was just easily fatigued and periodically had a low grade fever (less than 101). Her symptoms came and went, and on Christmas Eve morning, we took her to the pediatrician to check for a bladder infection. Her tests came back normal, and the pedi said it was probably a virus and that she would be fine. 

Georgia rallied for Christmas - of course, she did - but in the days that followed, she grew more fatigued, shaky, and pale, and we suspected she was anemic. So on December 30th, we took her back to the pediatrician for bloodwork. When we got the results a few minutes later, the pedi told us we were being admitted to Dell Children's Hospital for more tests. 

12/31 - Diagnosis 

The next morning, Georgia underwent a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy (which took about 15 minutes, and which she was asleep for), followed by a blood transfusion. We got the diagnosis about 2:30 that afternoon - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) - and the Peachy Keens were born, vowing then and there that we will fix it.
  
1/1 - Day One of Treatment  

Georgia started 2010 with a spinal tap, which came back clear of any leukemia cells, insertion of a port-a-cath, and her first round of chemotherapy - some directly in the spinal fluid and some in her port. She got another unit of blood and began her steroid regimen.  

1/2-1/3 - "Easy" days

We've learned that chemotherapy drugs stay in your body about 48 hours, so the two days after treatment are spent watching for nausea or any other adverse reactions and waiting for the next treatment. All that waiting can get kind of boring, really, especially when you're feeling as great as Georgia does, so you end up doing things like this:

 

Teasing the doctors -
I know you said there were side effects, but this is ridiculous!


Fooling the nurses with the GEICO money guy


And hangin' with the Lady Longhorns!

1/4 - Going Home

The last day in the hospital included two more units of blood and a tour of the clinic where Georgia will receive most of her chemotherapy. As magical and amazing as DCH is, the clinic is even more so! We will never be without plenty of things to do and people to talk to.

Before we could leave, Georgia had to get one of the hardest parts of her treatment out of the way - the PEG shots. The medicine in the shots is so wonderful, but it is very thick and very hot, and the injections are given in the thigh muscle. We prayed about those shots a lot, and even though Georgia got three injections at the same time, she hardly cried or made a sound. The nurses couldn't believe how strong she was - they said big teenage boys don't take those shots half as well as she did. Just more proof that our girl is way tougher than ALL could ever even think to be!

1/5 and beyond

So now we're home and taking it easy until we go back to the clinic on Friday for Georgia's second round of chemotherapy. We did venture out yesterday to get her a new "do," so take a look at Miss Pixie up there in her profile picture - tres chic! We also had a belated birthday party, and Georgia was thrilled with the new purple trunk she'll be taking to Camp Mystic soon.

We are so thankful for all the messages of love and support we've received over the last week. Prayers, healing thoughts, and good vibrations are what we're asking for, and we feel them coming in from all across the country. Georgia has six months of treatment plus two years of maintenance ahead of her, so we hope to keep the love flowing throughout her journey. She is a quiet warrior and an inspiration to everyone we've encountered so far, and we know she will recover and go on to do the great things that she is destined for. We'll keep you updated here, so leave comments - Georgia would love to hear from you! Well, here, I'll let her tell you herself:

video

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day One

Two days ago, Georgia's 10th birthday, she was admitted to Dell Children's Hospital for testing. Yesterday, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a very common, very curable cancer of the blood.

Today, she began her first round of chemotherapy, and she and her team - the Peachy Keens - are confident she will win this fight. ALL never had a chance!