Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 10:37 AM
Subject: Yay for Avalon!!


Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

All of your prayers and wishes were answered...we got our Christmas miracle!

Yesterday was chemo day for Avalon.  We did her lab draw and held our breath.  After ANC
numbers of 217, 0, and 46 - she had come all the way up to 909 last week - almost to the 1000
threshhold we needed to restart chemo.  The nurse and I were just sure she would be over
1000 - how couldn't she be?  Little did we know...

Her actual numbers?  Are you sitting down?  Try 16,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Yes, you read that right,
16,000.  That's more ANC than a normal healthy child!  

OK, being the paranoid wreck (rightly so the way this year has gone) I am - I panicked that
such a huge jump was bad.  Not only is her ANC high, but her white blood cell count is also
nearly twice what it should be.  Yes, WBC numbers that high can, indeed, be a bad indicator
that the leukemia has returned.  Unless, your platelet count and every other blood value you
have is also high.  She also has twice the platelets of a normal child and several other counts
are way up too.  Basically, the best medical opinion is that her bone marrow was so glad to be
rid of leukemia, and temporarily rid of the chemo...that it kicked into hyper overdrive.

My other opinion?  So many people with big hearts begged the universe for mercy - that her
numbers shot through the roof!  Our nurse said I need to line up my prayer chains for all her
kids, apparantly you all are pretty darn good at it.
:-)   Long story short, Avalon is better than any medical book says she should be - and
Mommy and Daddy can breathe a little easier this week.  Its the best Christmas present
anyone could have given us.

Avalon did restart chemo yesterday.  She received an infusion of Vincristine (pushed into her
port in her chest) and began her 5 day course of steroids.  This steroid dose is twice what the
original course was - but she only does it for 5 days.  She also began her weekly dose of
Methotrexate (sp) - she takes 3 1/2 pills once a week.  She also restarted the 6-MP daily oral
chemo.  6MP is the reason her numbers dropped so severely - so the game now is to wait and
see what happens.  As if all of that wasn't enough, she also started a 14 day , twice a day,
course of antibiotics for a sinus infection and still will be taking her other antibiotic twice a day
on weekends.  And, lest we forget, now that chemo is back in full swing - she had to restart her
two mouth treatments - both twice a day.  Also, we had to restart zantac and her stool softener,
both to counteract the negative side effects of the chemo.  Yes folks, its one ton of drugs we
poured into her last night.  But you know what?  We're back to fighting the beast, we avoided
an in-house hospital stay, and we're all together for Christmas...what more could I want?  I'm
thrilled!!

Actually, I do have a Christmas wish.  OK, its another one of those -
you-can-wish-for-it-but-don't-hold-your-breath wishes.  I actually have several of those:  
1)  I wish Avalon was 100% healthy and we didn't have to do chemo - yeah, well, dream on!
2)  I wish we had a house in a safer neighborhood so I didn't have to worry every time we leave
and every night when we go to sleep - again, dream on!  After all, we do have warm beds and
we are together.  Get over it.
3)  I wish we had a truck again.  - You'll notice a pattern here...dream on!  I'm reasonably sure
those won't fit in a stocking...

The Christmas wish I'm really referring to is equally impossible, but, unlike the others,  I can
accomplish a tiny bit of it.  If I could have one giant wish (forgetting the other three) - it would
be to hug each and every one of you.  I don't mean just the people on this direct email list -
several of them I will get to squeeze.  I mean all of you.  All of you who read these emails, after
several forwards, or maybe you just hear about them over the phone.  Maybe you just hear
about them around the water cooler, maybe at aerobics class.  However, wherever - all I know
is that I would give anything to hug and kiss each and every one of you!!!!

My big Christmas request to all of you is that you promise to tell the people in your prayer
chains, in your offices, in your families - how very much we appreciate all of you.  Please,
forward this email, print it out, whatever it takes to tell people how grateful we are for each and
every one of them.  Bit by bit, day by day - your collective love and support are giving us back
our child - and no greater gift can be given.  

Wonderful, generous angels have adopted our family this Christmas.  Their gifts to my girls
make my heart sing - but their gifts of hope and wishes for Avalon, make my soul dance.  
There are not enough words to say how much we appreciate each and every kind thought and
act.  Please, please, please - pass on our thanks.  We have definitely learned the meaning of
"It takes a village to raise a child."  Every day I learn about more members of our village, and
every day I find new reasons to be humbled.  

If anyone reading this as a forward would like to talk to us directly...PLEASE do not hesitate to
email us.  We love each and every one of you! (castlehavan@wowway.com)

To each of you, I send a heartfelt embrace and love.  Avalon sends slobbery, snotty kisses,
Ambrosia sends bouncy, dimply giggles, Aurora sends singing, tapping greetings and Nick
sends warm, strong bear hugs.  We are blessed by all of you.

Just one more grin for the day.  Attached are a couple of photos I took of Avalon at chemo
yesterday.  I happened to have my camera in the backpack...we were waiting in an exam
room...she was eating her weight in grapes...we both got goofy.  Yes, she wore the hat all day.
 Its actually Aurora's hat, I just safety pinned it to make it fit her.  And yes, she knew she was
cute!

Enjoy the holidays!

Love,
Alicia
Avalon and Ambrosia had these
matching "Santa outfits".   Since
Avalon's numbers were so low, we
couldn't take her to have her
picture made with Santa, so we
thought we'd show off for the
people at clinic.  These pictures are
taken on an exam table in the
Heme-Onc clinic.

The hat is actually Aurora's, its
Huge!  Its safety-pinned to be able
to keep it on...
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Our Journey:
Avalon's Army of Angels
December 22, 2004
Yay for Avalon!