When Pain Comes 'A Knockin'

Sunday, August 28 -- Day +11

Anna has been doing surprisingly well. Even her doctors have been saying Anna's symptoms have been delayed and are atypical of a kid who has been through chemo and transplant. 

Over the last day or so, however, the other shoe finally dropped. Anna’s cell counts are nearly absent of white blood cells, which is part of the process and is fully expected. But when you rob the body of it’s immune system, nasty things happen.

She has very painful mouth and throat sores. As a result, Anna has not eaten or taken a sip of water for three days. We are thankful for her NJ tube and Broviac line, as she receives nutrition "feeds" and fluid. Her head has become very itchy, which her doctors say is usually a sign that her hair is about to fall out. She has spent the last few days mostly in bed, as the pain meds make her drowsy. But we are thankful for the pain meds!

Make no mistake - this girl is a fighter. She knew this was coming. It doesn’t make it easier, but Anna realizes it’s temporary and necessary to get well.  

As I’ve mentioned before, your acts of kindness and concern help her navigate these tougher days.  Last Wednesday, before the side effects got worse, her dear friend from school, Abbie, paid her a special visit (pictured above).  It was touching to see them play like typical seven-year-olds -- something we took for granted for so long. For a few hours, Anna forgot where she was and what she was going through. Her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Johansson, also came by to meet Anna for the first time and brought notes and pictures from her class (picture left). 

Grandparents have helped navigate the doldrums of being confined to a single room.  My mom just left and spent most of her visits playing Monopoly Jr., one of Anna's recent obsessions.  Melissa’s parents drive down from Prescott several times a week to see Anna and help with Margaret.  My dad and Toby arrive this week, and I’m sure that will lift Anna’s spirits.

Uncle Mike sent his first mail shipment.  Anna enjoyed reading so many messages of encouragement, some from people she’s never met.  We’re particularly touched by children who’ve been inspired by Anna and in return provide Anna with hope and smiles.  Keep ‘em coming!

My employer has been beyond supportive. During our busiest time of year I’ve been told, “Whatever you need” - - from my boss, to our C.O.O., to the team owner. My coworkers have sent Anna gifts, arranged visits from the cheerleaders, and organized valuable bone marrow drives in Anna’s honor with Be The Match at training camp and at the upcoming preseason game. The support is overwhelming. I’m so thankful for this, especially my staff who has taken on additional responsibilities in my absence. They even taped a video message for Anna from her favorite Cardinal, Tyrann Mathieu, the “Honey Badger.” 

We are also grateful for our amazing neighbors, who have been by our side every step of the way. Last Sunday, the ladies in the hood arranged a "Pink Hair for Anna" brunch.  Chad Austin (https://www.facebook.com/Hair-Therapy-By-Chad-Austin-301368409977689/), who does our friend Bonita’s hair, donated his time to put a pink streak in everyone’s hair to show support. What a touching gesture from our dear friends! Wade and Bonita served pink food and pink champagne -- and everyone got in on the pink hair action, including me and Margaret.

Finally, a little note on our other princess, Margaret. This has not been easy for her. At four, she lacks a full understanding of what is going on.  Routine is anything but routine. Mom and dad are seldom under the same roof with her. She's visited Anna at the hospital a couple of times but with school back in session, it's been limited since we can't risk Anna getting sick. One thing’s for sure - Margaret misses her big sister and expresses her concern on a daily basis. Every piece of art she brings home from school is presented with, “I made this for Anna.”  Thankfully, she maintains her terrific sense of humor and keeps us laughing.

Please pray that Anna’s pain does not become unbearable and that she continues to endure the next few weeks with the same resolve and spirit that she’s shown throughout this entire ordeal. And keep Margaret in your prayers, too.

Thank you for your support, it means more than words can ever express.

Sincerely,

Tim

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