Monday, May 7, 2012

Natural Killers

A whole lot has happened the last few weeks. From a surprising response to a chemotherapy regimen thrown together by our beloved and tenacious oncologist here at St. a much anticipated visit from my sisters and parents.

All was going well and Wesson was feeling better than ever. Learning new tricks and finding the energy to again play with his big brother Keegan. With the surprising news of a nearly remissed state of leukemia, Wesson's transplant team contacted us immediately. Logan was picked as Wesson's donor for the procedure. The next few days involved long days at the clinics of St. Jude and thorough testing for both Logan and Wesson --  in order to prepare for the Natural Killer Cell phase 1 clinical trial. Wesson would be recieving this experimental and yet promising infusion in attempts to officially clear his marrow of the aggressive leukemia that has invaded his body since 15 weeks of age.

 During the testing and preparing phase for the next trial...Wesson's body and marrow required a 'vacation' from the intense chemotherapy. With a two week break from the chemo, another bone marrow aspiration revealed Wesson's leukemia had again agressed -- from 0.75% to 30% blasts. Although this was was an incredibly defeating truth to all of us.

Wesson was admitted to the bone marrow transplant unit on April 24th (a new addition to the St. Jude hospital -- built in 2007 in order to provide more beds and a new facility for patients going to transplant). He was given 6 days of moderately intense chemotherapy in order to again suppress his immune system. On day zero...May 2nd Wesson recieved his daddy's Natural Killer Cells (a 7.5 mL IV push given over 3 minutes). I was hoping for a 50 mL IV bag that would run over hours...but I have been informed that although a small dose --- these cells pack a LARGE punch!

Wesson tolerated the Natural Killer cell infusion incredibly well and after a 24 hour monitoring for reaction and/or fever and mommy spending 2 hours cleaning, washing and sterilizing in preparation for Wesson's arrival back to our apartment of our Target house -- Wesson Wesson was okay'd for discharge on the evening of May 3rd after 9 days inpatient on the transplant unit. We were more than ready to be under the same roof and together as a family again, and almost giddy from the hope and excitement that the clinical trial holds for Wesson and our family......

Wesson is now recieving every other day injections of IL2 -- a natural hormone of our immune system that is produced by the body when we are sick. The IL2 injections are given to Wesson in order to help Logan's NK donor cells survive and grow for a longer period of time. Wesson's first injection was given on May 1st (day -1) and he has been recieving them ever since. Naturally, the hormones are making Wesson's body feel "sick"....and so although Wesson, Logan and I have had some restless nights -- we can't help but feel there is a reason to all of the trials and tribulations that Wesson has had to endure, and this is just one of the obstacles our sweet darling will unfortunately have to overcome in order to go to transplant and be cured of his demonic cancer.

Wesson will get his first chimerism test sometime this week (we are hoping today). This will tell us whether Logan's NK cells are still alive in Wesson's body or not. We will also have a discussion with our head transplant oncologist as to what the pre-conditioning looks like for Wesson before transplant. Wesson does have a donor who has already donated marrow, and his admission date to the BMT unit is set for May 21st.

Although the date for transplant is only two weeks away -- to us it is a lifetime. So much can happen from now until then....and the transplant will ultimately depend on whether Wesson is in remission or not. Here at St. Jude the bone marrow transplant team will transplant with an MRD of 5% or lower...however; this is an extremely high percentage of disease. We are praying for an absolutely clean marrow and an MRD of zero. If Wesson is able to go to transplant with a clean marrow, the chances of a successful transplant go to 88%....with a diseased marrow of 5 or lower the success rate does drop down to 40%. To be honest with you , I'm not a fan of numbers. Especially since we've been given some pretty low ones -- in regards to the survival of our own dear son. Something a mother hopes to never hear. However, 40% and 88% both sound damn good to us. And so we continue to pray and pray for Wesson's remissed state.

We will know a lot more in regards to transplant plans and success of the Natural Killer Cell infusion within the next week. And so I will keep everyone updated as well as possible.

On the non-medical side of things (we have to try and remember to be "normal") -- Wesson is babbling words such as "Ya Ya" and "Da" (Logan claims he said dada but I am reluctant to beleive this). He is more active and energetic than ever and with the help of PT is pulling up to stand and taking steps sideways with assistance. He is (in the words of his occupational therapist) ahead of his age in many areas...which we love to hear. Normal is good. He has peach fuzz covering his entire head -- bleach blonde (like his mommy). His eyelashes are nearly as long as Keegan's and are making me jealous each day they grow longer ;). He is absolutely beautiful.

I have a boatload of pictures of the boys and the experiences we have had over the last few weeks that I am very excited to show the world....however I do not have time right now. But I promise to get these on later!

A very good day to everyone! I will leave you with is a quote from a picture in the workout room of the Target House here in Memphis....

Do not follow where the Path May Lead ---- Make Your Own Way and Leave a Path.

Love...This as it is very Wesson like!

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