Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Diagnosis...I Think

First of all...Praise the Lord! Little Bittles does not have leukemia (though on first glance, the doctor thought it was leukemia). The pediatric hematologist (doctor specializing in children's blood) phoned us yesterday to discuss our daughter's bone marrow test results. I will do my best to explain this all now, although I'm pretty sure I don't fully understand all the medical stuff myself. Thank you again for all your prayers and your continued prayers for our daughter's protection from infection and complete and total healing.

The Diagnosis:
So, to start off, the doctor told me he is now 99.9% sure our daughter has what they call "chronic benign neutropenia" (click on the link to learn more). I think this is the term they use with neutropenia (low neutrophils) when they do not know exactly why the patient has neutropenia and there are no cancerous cells. They do not know if she was born with it or developed it. She is still in the severe range, but there is a decent chance that she might "spontaneously" get over it in a few years. I prefer the term "healed" :-)

Now, here's the crazy thing:

The doctor told me that at first glance at her test, he actually thought our daughter probably had leukemia. This is why he phoned my husband a couple hours after the test to warn him that the results were very bad upon first glance. The reason for this is because of one very strange thing with our daughter's test; she has an abnormally high number of blast cells (click the link for a short description) , the immature "pre-cells" of the bone marrow. Normal is 5% and our daughter had 15%. A high percentage is an indication for leukemia. (From what I read, if you have 20% or more blast cells, it's an automatic leukemia diagnosis.) However, when they examined the cells closer, they were able to tell that all the cells were normal blast cells and not cancerous. They are not really sure why she has such a high number of these cells. All they know is that right now they are not cancerous. Apart from this, the rest of her bone marrow test was typical of what they would expect to find in chronic benign neutropenia. From what I understand, this means that she does have some immature neutrophils in her bone marrow that her body could release early if she got an infection. These would not be as effective as mature neutrophils, but they would be able to provide some "ammunition" if she did get an infection.

Right now she does not have to undergo any treatment for her neutropenia. There is a drug called a granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), which can be administered to help increase your production of neutrophils. However, the doctor told us not to use it unless we're forced to because it might be linked to developing leukemia later on. (10-20 % of patients who are treated with it develop leukemia later on). They are unsure if the drug or the actual condition is linked to developing leukemia.
She is still much more susceptible to infections than the average person, so we will do our best to live a normal life while avoiding contact with anyone who is obviously sick. Every time she gets a fever, she will have to see the doctor, likely go on an antibiotic, and have a blood count done. Depending on the blood count and if she responds to antibiotics, she may or may not have to be treated with the G-CSF. They are hoping (and we are praying) that she might "spontaneously" get over this in a few years. (We are praying for a quicker healing than that.)

How are We Feeling?:
We are SO thankful that our daughter does not have leukemia. This is a huge relief, and we are praising God. After the doctor phoned me with this news, I literally scooped up Little Bittles and she squealed with delight as we zoomed and danced around the house, praising God for the good news.
We are still a little nervous about the fact that she does have such a high number of blast cells, which is commonly found in leukemia. However, we are trying not to worry about this, and we are even wondering if this was the big answer to prayer since I got the impression the doctor was surprised and had no explanation for the fact that the cells were normal, since she had so many of them.
After living in a bubble for 2 1/2 months, we are really looking forward to getting back to some sort of normalcy, including go out and about, attending church, and just getting on with our lives now that we have the bone marrow test results. Yes, we will be a bit more cautious and do our best to avoid people with infections, but I think we will be able to live a pretty normal life for now. Praise the Lord!

How Can You Pray?

Give thanks to God that she does not have leukemia and does not need to be treated yet. Pray for her protection from serious infection (especially because of her allergy to the best antibiotics). Pray that she will be healed from this chronic benign neutropenia. Pray that her abnormal number of blast cells will not develop into leukemia.

Psalm 34 has probably been our "theme Psalm" this whole time. God led my husband to this specific Psalm when my husband was calling out to God when this ordeal first started. We have come back to it time and time again during this time. Here are the first few verses of the psalm.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.Psalm 34:1-8

Giving thanks,

1 comment:

Betty K said...

Praise the Lord!! This is indeed good news.

What else can I say?We wil trust the Lord for his continued protection over her and pray for your continued good health as well.

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