Today is Friday, December 31st, 2021. That means there are exactly 12 days left of Theo’s cancer treatment. 12 days left of taking pills. 12 days until Theo is DONE WITH THERAPY and hopefully, done with this disease forever. Now, if that isn’t the best Christmas present ever in the world, I don’t know what is.
It feels truly amazing to have come this far, to be this close. Somebody pinch me, is this really true? Yes, and we could not be happier. It’s been a busy past couple of months preparing Theo for the end of therapy and the return to social life and school, aka “back to normal”. Theo has had two doses of the pediatric Covid vaccine. Theo is immunocompromised, which means his immune system has fewer memory cells. Therefore, a third dose of the vaccine is needed to help his immune system remember the virus and build up a defense against it. Theo is due to get his third dose on January 6th. Unfortunately, the CDC has not approved a third dose for immunocompromised patients under the age of 12. Say what now? This makes no sense to me. On one hand, I have Theo’s doctors telling me that Theo needs a third dose of the vaccine. No, it is not a booster. It is really a THIRD dose. But how can he? I am told he is not eligible! Fortunately, I have a smart friend, who is also going through the same thing with her child. She is awesome and someone I often rely on for recommendations, advice, or just to vent to about what we are going through. In this case, she has informed me that Theo’s doctor needs to send a letter to a specific vaccination clinic in order for him to receive his third dose. There, done! Thank you, friend. Theo has been looking forward to getting the vaccine for so long now. He was so happy to get his first shot! It is a big step in the direction moving forward, past disease and pandemic.
Wait, there’s more to celebrate still! Theo had his port removed!!! Finally, it’s done. It’s been months of us talking about it, planning for it, trying the IV in preparation to have it out, etc. I knew it would be a big deal, but I was not expecting it to feel this good! Like I’ve been hiking up a mountain with a 50-pound backpack on, and I finally reached the top and can put down the heavy weight. Luis and I are so relieved, so happy. One big stress, gone. The risk of infection and fear of Theo having a fever is greatly reduced. Theo is excited as well. The anxiety caused by the anticipation of getting poked in the chest to have his port accessed… gone. The fear of something hitting him in the chest and bumping his port… gone. Even having to see his bump and be reminded of the port and cancer… gone! The surgery was quick, only about 30 minutes. He woke up from the anesthesia very cranky, extremely emotional, and super hungry. About one hour later, plus a cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake, and Theo was back to feeling like himself again. Theo was instructed to take one week off from normal activity. We gave him Tylenol for the first 24 hours following the surgery and after that he was fine. The hardest part of recovery was trying to keep Theo from moving too much! He was feeling great just a couple of days afterwards and was tired of resting. He wanted to JUMP! RUN! PLAY! Well, now he can, and without thinking about his port.
Theo has been to the hematology/oncology clinic twice, for labs and a provider visit, since the last update. The first appointment was on Monday, November 29th. With surgery scheduled the following week to have Theo’s port removed, Theo planned for a peripheral poke in his hand for the blood draw. Theo arrived at the appointment well hydrated and with a healthy glob of numbing cream on both hands. Success! The assessment was that Theo is “clinically doing well with labs and exam appropriate to continue oral chemotherapy.” In other words, ALL GOOD! A pretty boring provider visit, but we like boring. We like uneventful when it comes to medical concerns. Theo’s next visit was one month later, on Wednesday, December 29th. Another uneventful visit. No major concerns, other than to discuss Theo’s third dose of the vaccine. That’s it. His next appointment is not scheduled until January 24th, 2022! But wait, what about the end of therapy? I was shocked to find out that Theo does not have an appointment on his last day of therapy. So, I asked his doctor, “What happens on the last day? What do we do?” It felt so anticlimactic to hear her response, “just stop taking pills”. Oh… that’s it? I guess my plan of exploding confetti and popping open bottles of champagne in the clinic is not happening then? Haha, no worries. We plan to celebrate with friends and family surrounding us. Yes, that’s the plan. (Date and Time TBD). The final countdown begins. 12 days…
Oh boy, what a Christmas we had!! According to Theo, it was “the best Christmas ever!” Tons of delicious food, loads of presents, and fun with family. But Christmas is not just a day. It is much more than that. It is the season of giving, loving, and celebrating. It is the feeling of magic and hope. It is the time of sacrifice and forgiveness. It is a smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend, an unexpected gift. It brings light, so that even during the darkest grayest days of winter, we have joy. In my opinion, Theo IS Christmas. His love and excitement of it all is extraordinary. It is so innocent and pure; it transcends all beauty. This year, we have so much to celebrate. We are home together, happy and healthy, and full of hope for the new year to come.
“While there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol