December 3, 2004
Learn about ANC - our guiding number

Sent: Friday, December 03, 2004 11:21 AM
Subject: Bad tests for Avalon
OK everyone, its time to fire up the prayer chains, spirit trains and general grammophones to
God's ear. Avalon has had another rotten day at chemo and we are in need of some greater

One of the most important blood levels we watch is called the ANC - Absolute Neutrophil Count.
A neutrophil is one kind of white blood cell. To find the ANC, the total white blood count is
multiplied by the percentage of neutrophils. The ANC is an indicator of the child's ability to fight
infection. They want our kids to preferably have counts of 1000 or more.

Last week, the doctors temporarily discontinued Avalon's oral chemo because her ANC fell from
1448 to 217. The doctor grilled Nick about our Thanksgiving plans and agreed that we were
safe to go to Mom and Dad's for the weekend. We were hoping that all would be OK to restart
chemo this week. Nope.

Yesterday's number was 0. Nada, zilch, absolutely nothing. Translation, Avalon is under strict
house arrest and we hold our breath hoping she doesn't catch anything. All chemo is now on
hold until her ANC is back up to 1000. The best guess is that may take a few weeks.

Meantime, we have to watch her like a hawk and take her temperature regularly. They
reminded us to keep bags packed and in the car. Barring some great turn-a-round, we have a
huge likelihood of ending up in the hospital for several days. The slightest infection now could
mean days or weeks on IV antibiotics. Suffice it to say we are paranoid and desperately hoping
for a little pre-Christmas miracle of better blood results. Stupid leukemia. Just when we thought
we had a handle on this!

The good new is, Avalon is enjoying her hiatus from chemo. She is walking again and talking a
blue streak. She and Ambrosia have been battling over toys and generally wrecking the entire
house. I've never been so thrilled to trip over toys!! Its fun to have to get her in trouble over
things like feeding dolls to Prince or "undecorating" the Christmas tree. Yeah, like she ever gets
into too much trouble. She flashes that dimply grin and I'm hopeless. Ambrosia is the only one
immune to it. Avalon can grin all she wants and Ambrosia just tells her, "No! That still mine!"
Good thing she has a grip on reality. ;)

Anyway, I promised all of you to keep you updated...good, bad and in-between. Here's one for
the rotten file. But you know what? It can't be all bad when she's able to walk over to me and
smile ear to ear. I think I'm going to go hugbug a couple of cuties now...hope you understand...

Our Journey:
Avalon's Army of Angels