Chance

I literally feel like someone has punched me in the stomach. Not long ago, a friend suggested I check out a FB page. It was a boy a little younger than Jake who was getting ready to have a stem cell transplant. He was diagnosed with the same type of leukemia as Jake. I’m not sure of his details. I don’t know if he had been in remission, and the leukemia returned. That is when they are more likely to go forward with the transplant. Jake had to have a stem cell transplant. Curing the leukemia was not going to cure the immune deficiency.  Before Jake’s transplant, his doctor shared that 200 diseases were now curable by a stem cell transplant, but the benefits had to outweigh the risks. For a moment, I considered this, but then I quickly returned all my focus on the benefits. Jake would have a chance at a new, healthy life. I planned to reach out to this other boy soon. His name was Chance. I knew the first few weeks would be tough, and he would most likely feel horrible from the chemotherapy. Today was too late, he died this morning. I am heartbroken for his loved ones. I looked at his FB page. Like me, his mother posted updates. Some of them brought back memories. They were waiting on Chance ‘ s neutrophils to show up. He was sustained by blood and platelet transfusions.  His own platelet count never recovered. None of his blood, or the new blood cells ever recovered. The stem cells did not appear to be engrafting. It could have been complications from the chemotherapy. An infection believed to be caused by his central line also complicated his recovery. Within a day, his ammonia levels reached critical levels. He was moved to the ICU unit for what they hoped was a short stay. It wasnt. He took his last breath not long after the doctors said there was nothing more they could do. I’m utterly heartbroken for his mom and his family and friends. Like Jake, his town and school rallied around him. It reminds me of how lucky we’ve been. What a miracle it was to have a biological donor.  The nurses were always commenting and so happy to report Jake’s blood counts every morning. They celebrated when his first neutrophils showed up. I didn’t really appreciate what it all meant. I really had no idea. I was happy because they were happy. But they knew the reality. They knew how important it was to see those signs of engraftment. Some of the side effects have been horrible, but they could have been worse. Thank God we didn’t have complications. Thank God that last week’s hospital stay was a reaction to a medication.  So while I am lucky enough to be thanking God, I’m also going to be asking God to please bring peace, love and joy to this young man’s loved ones and the friends and community that must be devastated by the loss of this dear young man. #chancestrong

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