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Not a Preferred Destination





8/15/2006

Some of the links on this page reference how the professionals describe and deal with Leukemia. As Jaymun's dad, I am not a "pro", this is not something I ever really wanted to study up close and personal. Since many of you who read this are like me, just average people who hope this sort of thing stays far away from your family, I thought I might give you a layman's view into what my son is experiencing. If any of you (the docs) read this and see errors - by all means correct me - you know I am always hungry for more information

Jaymun was born with purple spots ("blood blisters") under his skin. This they called "blueberry muffin baby" which could have had several other causes (tumors, infections, etc.) but was determined (by skin biopsy) to be the presentation of acute myeloid leukemia (the technical term for this kind of skin "spot" is myeloid sarcoma - sometimes called granulocytic sarcoma or chloroma). I understand AML (acute myeloid leukemia) to mean that some of the components of his blood (white blood cells in his case) are genetically distorted/immature so that they are useless to do their normal work (fight infection). Basically this means that his blood system is partially reproducing faulty blood.

What is worse, however, is that while the healthy part of his blood grows at a slower (normal) rate, the unhealthy part multiplies much faster. That means that eventually there would be no room left in his body to make good blood - the cells in his "blood factory" would be all abnormal, and his body would be making all bad blood. Even the part where red blood cells, platelets, etc. are produced would be squelched by the cancerous crowds of white blood cells.

Here is a question everyone asks - if blood is made in the bone marrow, and leukemia harms by crowding out the bone marrow, how could Jaymun only have had leukemia presented under his skin? Both his bone marrow tests were clean - only the skin biopsy showed cancer. It seems his faulty white cells (cancer) are geneticaly attracted to his skin. However, since blood is made in the bone marrow - sooner or later the leukemia would spread there. And generally pre-involvment of the skin indicates a poorer long term prognosis. In any event - it was already spreading under his skin. After the first few weeks during which the spots almost completely disappeared, they started growing again and appearing in new places under his skin.

So - what to do? Enter Children's Hospital and the Oncology team. Dr Warwick explained the treatment plan. They target the fast dividing cells in his body (blood, cancer, hair, mouth and throat lining, etc.). The chemo-therapy kills these cells as they divide, leaving the rest of his body weakened, but still alive. Since his body can only take so much of this at one time - the chemo therapy runs intermittently. Ten days on - 30 days off, 10 days on, 30 days off, etc. Each session of chemo lowers the percentage of cancer cells.

Everyone has an immune system. There can be only one immune system per person. And yes - it is possible to transplant an immune system from one person to another. This can be helpful when cancer is growing in your immune system (leukemia). Because if you almost entirely destroy your immune system (with chemo-therapy) and transplant in someone else's bone marrow, then the new system will develop, and fight against the last vestiges of the old system, killing it off (including the cancer). So as an added bonus, Jaymun's brother Devon is a perfect match for a bone-marrow transplant, which will happen at the end of the chemo-therapy treatments. Jaymun's "blood factory" will be replaced by his brothers. For the rest of Jaymun's life, he will have Devon's blood, Devon's immune system fighting off infection in his own body.

And, of course - this is only the medical plan. God has blessed us with wise doctors and the money (insurance) to pay for them. But we know that all things are in His hand, and so we ask everyone to join us in praying for His special blessing on little Jaymun. The good doctors can put in the right medicines, the nurses can take good care, and mom can nurse him and pour out her love; but while his father on earth can only protect him from a few things, the Father in heaven can count every cell in his body, and He knows exactly what Jaymun needs, and exactly what is best for all of us.

So we depend on Him to take good care of the little boy He gave us.

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