Having eleven children is an amazing blessing and one heck of a crazy ride. Join us through all the joys, smiles, tribulations and trials as we navigate this fabulous journey!

Friday, January 31, 2014


Five years ago today, Brandon stood at the kitchen sink, popped open a soda and took his very last dose of cyclosporine. We said a prayer, recorded it on video and then, learned to move on with life. At first, we constantly feared “it” would come back. We made lots of trips for blood work, and I sweated out that 45 to 60 minutes until results were back. My stomach would be in knots as I’d see Dr. Rob or Bob approach with the test results in hand. As they would walk toward me, I’d study their faces…did they look pleased? Worried? Did they have a nurse accompanying them to give me the results?(that usually meant bad news). Did they look like they were going to just hand me the printout or did they seem like they were about to sit down? (sitting is bad too, folks). Brandon had made it to a great place, remission wise, his counts were on the verge of complete normalcy, all except for H & H, which were just a touch below normal (and really, lots of people are that way naturally, so no biggie). He had his life back, we had our life back.

We knew he needed to wean off the medicine so as to avoid further exposure to some pretty serious side effects, yet we also knew weaning too quickly could mean a relapse of the Aplastic Anemia. We’d already had that (relapse) happen once before, and were fortunate that he responded to Cyclosporine a second time without the need for more ATG, so we definitely didn’t want to take our chances with a need for a third. So, we’d spent the better part of a year, slowly tapering off that medication…such a love/hate relationship we had with it. It made his bone marrow do it’s job, thus saving him from probable death unless we could find a bone marrow match, on the other hand, it put tremendous stress on his kidneys, particularly when antibiotics were also needed, which was quite often (we’d once had to stop and restart at a lower dose because his kidney function was suffering), it ran the risk of causing various forms of cancers and it took a horrible toll on his immune system (which was what it was supposed to do, that’s why it worked, but it left him vulnerable to every single virus within a ten mile radius it seemed and viruses in turn, carried the dreaded risk of relapse).

That last dose was such a bittersweet moment…it brought so much joy, and fear. Stopping the medicine meant it’d be time to find out whether or not his bone marrow could fly solo, and do it’s job, or whether its’ production was solely dependent on that Cyclosporine. So we waited, and waited and waited and watched and watched and watched. The first time Bandon was sick with a virus was a real test for his marrow. For any of us, when we are ill, we can experience a temporary minor to moderate drop in our blood counts, they normalize when we get better, and most of the time, we are none the wiser. In Brandon’s case, the theory is that when he caught a virus a few weeks before being diagnosed, his bone marrow never autocorrected and for some reason continued to slow cell production until it eventually came to a halt. So, any time he’d become ill, trips to clinic, blood work and IV antibiotics -heavy duty ones and lots of them -were the norm. Between going to clinic each time he was ill and frequently for “just checking” blood work, we wore out a path down I 64. Over time, we were able to decrease some of that. Eventually we were able to just bring him to clinic after a virus passed and make sure counts were up and at thee month intervals to “just check“. At some point we learned to stop fearing the results of the blood work each and every time. And one glorious day, it occurred to me, that I probably didn’t even really need to wait on the results…they could just call me with them or maybe just not call. No news meant they were fine. And they were. Now, all that’s needed is a periodic CBC which can be done at a local lab closer to home with the results faxed to Dr. Rob if there are any questions, and a ONCE a year checkup back at clinic. His port was removed and he is totally independent of any and all therapies, medications and illness.

Today, Brandon has made it exactly five years with no medication and very cooperative bone marrow. I’m not saying we never worry. We’ll always have a decent fear of relapse and the words “clonal evolution” are the scariest words I know. Clonal evolution refers to a risk that all patients who have had Aplastic Anemia face…about ten to fifteen percent of AA patients will at some point, perhaps years after treatment, develop MDS, or Mylodysplastic Syndrome that will then lead to a mylogenous leukemia. There isn’t really anything (that I know of) that can be done to mitigate that risk, it’s just there. The fact that he’s made a complete recovery and his counts are now completely normal bodes very well in his favor. So, things look amazing for him. We have no reason to think he’ll ever face any further problems from Aplastic Anemia. He has his life back 100 percent. He plays football, and wrestles. He can expect to grow up, get old and have a happy life. And that’s all we’ve ever wanted for him, or for any of our children for that matter. Tonight we are taking him out to celebrate. Anywhere he wants (which is the movies and Buffalo Wild Wings).
Happy five years Brandon. You are a strong kid and we’re so proud of you!


Anonymous said...

Happy Five Years to you and Al are both heroes in this as well.

XXXOOO - Mom/Nana

Rakib Hasan said...

You posted nice .I am finding more similar post through online .I wanna say with you "Love Human Life" deeply .Please keep it up .

Lynn said...

Thanking the Lord so much for all he's done!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keep your eyes on the only true source of peace and strength. Praying!
Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

Lynn said...

Always look to the Lord whatever the need. Praying right now!!!!!!!!!!!
Psalms 121:1-4 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Lynn said...

Know that I'm always here praying!
Psalms 121:5-8 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
My email address

Lynn said...

Lamentations 3:21-26 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
My email address

Lynn said...

Call upon the Lord! He hears! He answers according to His Will. Praying as always!
Lamentations 3:55-58 I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.
My email address

Lynn said...

The Lord will be with you always. Praying!
Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (8) And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Lynn said...

There are so many passages that just overwhelm my heart as I read the words. Praying so that they comfort you as well!
Psalms 73:23-26 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Lynn said...

Praying for the Lord's strength in your heart to face whatever each day brings!
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
My email address

Lynn said...

Such special words of comfort! Praying right now!
Job 19:25-27 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

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Lindsey Caldwell said...

Hi there, I'm Lindsey! I have a question and would love to speak with you. Please email me when you have a chance, thanks so much!!

Lynn said...

No birthday post?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Our Lord is sayinig these words! Praying right now!
Revelation 21:5-7 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

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