Not surprisingly, the intense chemotherapy is making Jack very, very sick. I’m not sure which chemo drugs are being used on him specifically, but I do recall reading that Carboplatin was one of his cocktail of nasty. I recall that twenty years ago, when my mom was being treated for small cell lung cancer, that was one of the drugs prescribed to her. I do recall her being horribly nauseous, but I believe that this is true of many chemo drugs.
In Jack’s case, the chemo is being used to completely wipe out his existing immune system, since this is where his disease lies! It is an autoimmune disease, where his own immune system is killing its ‘host’, in other words, his own body. During the this process, he will be in an isolation unit in the hospital in Philadelphia. The only people allowed access to him will be medical personnel, and his parents. Both of his parents have to stay with him throughout his treatment.
After his own immune system has been completely destroyed, some donated immune cells from his 8 year old sister will be implanted in his body. She actually stepped up and volunteered to do this, even before the hospital discussed this with the family! When the marrow is harvested, Elizabeth will have to stay for three days, in order to be sure that sufficient marrow was retrieved.
Meanwhile, my friend Joan continues her countdown. She has been tracking how long it has been since she saw ‘little Jack’, counting the days since he left for CHOP. She takes comfort in knowing that he is in THE BEST hospital for treating this sort of disease. He is being treated by the very best experts, world renowned doctors and nurses, physiotherapists and psychologists. The family has been told that if all goes well, they can expect to take Jack home in early January.
Until his treatment finally started last week, she fretted that the damage was continuing to destroy the white matter in his brain. It was understandable, she said, that they wouldn’t want to start a treatment that might be too hard on his body, but at the same time, this allowed disease to continue unchecked.
Luckily, Jack is away from the dangers of the toxic smoke from the epic wildfires in northern California. We have had two days this past week where the air pollution here was equivalent to that in Beijing, China! The local news advised that anyone with breathing issues should be wearing an industrial air mask, NOT the ones you can normally buy in a drugstore. Schools in the northerly area were closed, and many still are.
Over two hundred thousand acres of land have burned, 57000 homes, and forty known deaths. Many high schools further down into the safe zone, as well as community halls and churches, and being used as accommodation for the thousands of people that are now homeless. A few local employers, like Apple and Microsoft, and offering to TRIPLE the donations to various organizations from staff, thus making a ten dollar donation worth thirty dollars! This includes organizations like various local food banks, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and Best Friends animal charity.
Meanwhile, the fires still burn, and are only about 15% contained.