1st Round of Chemo
On July 30th around 10:30 at night, Payton started her first round of chemo. The medicine was injected through Payton's hickman (central line IV) which took about one hour. She then received the same chemo injection for the next four days, totaling five days of chemo in a row. After the five days of chemo treatment Payton entered the "recovery" stage. During recovery the doctors are monitoring Payton's blood work, specifically her hemoglobin, platelets, and ANC (Absolute Neut Count).
Chemo is intended to kill or destroy any rapidly dividing cells and unfortunately cannot target only cancer cells. Because of this her blood counts and her immune system are at risk. She had a few blood transfusions to help with her hemoglobin and one platelet transfusion. The ANC count refers to the immune system and during chemo it will drop from around the 5,000 range to 0 (meaning 0 immune system to fight infection).
As Payton entered her first days of chemo, she was already pretty uncomfortable and not feeling great. The doctors kept telling us as the chemo would start working its magic and we would see Payton feeling so much better. At this point Payton really had not been walking or playing, she was barely eating or drinking, had very low energy, was fussy and uncomfortable, she was also having a regular fever, she was on/off oxygen, and on a blood pressure medication. All her symptoms were a result of this overgrown and aggresive tumor. The tumor was so large in her abdomen she looked as if she was 9 months pregnant. We could not wait for the chemo to start working!
On day six of this first round (5 days chemo, 21(ish) days recovery) Payton started on a medication called growth factor to help her counts recover quickly. She had also slowly started getting a rash around the bottom of her hairline and on her abdomen around the tumor. The doctor's said they had been expecting a rash. It is caused from the cancer cells dying and only lasted about 2 days. Payton's ANC hit 0 on day 7, which we want and is another sign the chemo is working! On day eight Payton spiked a fever after multiple days fever free, also expected.
Payton's ANC count stayed at zero for 8 days before started to jump back up. In this time Payton slowly started to gain some energy and an appetite. Each day getting better than the last. Her tumor was shrinking, it was visualy obvious and we had been measuring her belly daily. By day 12 she had "lost" 7cm off her belly!! OMG WOW! This is when I started to really push Payton to start moving and walking. I knew she could do it, she started walking before she was 11 months old and it was just weird to see her not active.
Physical therapy had seen Payton one day and pushed her to walk the hallway. After that day I was adiment on getting Payton out of bed as much as possible during the day. No more iPad and movies all day long. We sat on a floor mat with toys and activities to motive her. Payton starting taking a few steps on her own again, and in the next few days (with some encouragement and push from me) SHE WAS WALKING!!! Yay, this was our first big win in my option. Our girl is back :)
Payton's hair started to fall out on day 13. This is not a sad day, this is a day that shows my baby healing. Her hair will grow back. If losing it for a short time means she is on a path to better days, I am all about it!
On Monday, August 15th Payton's ANC was at 800. When we woke up on Tuesday, August 16 her ANC was at 4,480!!! OMG - WE CAN GO HOME!! This day was all smiles from the moment we woke up. Payton's energy was amazing, she understood without actually understanding what was happening. She knew I was excited, and she knew things were happy. She was feeling 100% better and back to a typical toddler. She was fever free, her tumor was shrinking, her energy was back, she was walking, no more blood pressure medicine and all good vibes.
Life is good and chemo is working, yay!
Now we are home and are enjoying the sunshine. Payton is one happy little girl these days. She is truly amazing. This is a big win!! We are home until round two of chemo, stating Tuesday, August 23rd.