Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leukemia - System Reboot

While recently discussing our daughter's Leukemia I was telling my husband how it seemed like she was going back to baby stage in many ways. He, being a computer engineer, said she was going through a system reboot. I quite agreed with his analysis.

One obvious change is her lack of hair. Although some newborn babies are born with a full head of hair, mine were not. They had hair, but it was very thin baby hair. Jemma's hair is continuing to fall out and every day her hair seems to look a few baby months younger. Another visible change is her belly. Many babies and toddlers have huge out of proportion stomachs. The medications she is taking made her stomach look this way for a while.

When bringing home new babies parents are often told to wash their hands frequently and limit contact with the outside. This is because the immune systems of infants are not yet strong and they are very vulnerable to infections as is definitely the case with people undergoing chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy destroys the cancerous cells as well as the good cells of the body forcing the body to rebuild itself. Newborns sleep a lot. Although my daughter is not sleeping anywhere close to the amount of time a newborn does, her energy level has been severly reduced. Her body is working so hard to replace all of the newly destroyed cells, just as newborns are busy creating cells so they can grow into big and strong children.
All of these changes are bringing her back in years so she can start over fresh.

I wonder what else the doctors see on the inside? They are constantly taking blood and analysing urine. If we can easily see these numerous signs of starting over, there must be countless others happening which we cannot. It takes nine months to grow a baby, but the system reboot is expected to take only six months. Just as growing a baby inside a mother creates a mirid of changes to her body, this process of going through treatment acts similarly on the patient. While inside the mother's body, babies are fed through the umbilical chord. My daughter's lifeline is her catheter tube. It is used to draw blood, feed when she can not through her mouth, and administer medications. During the past forty years or so doctors and scientists have figured out how to treat people with Leukemia. They have tried many different drugs and performed studies which have led to a treatment plan which now cures many patients. I think the power of science, research and medicine is absolutely amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Julie,

    Well written. We are thinking of you. xo Amy


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