chemo side effects and neuropathy stinks

Hello all!
We’ve been going hard for the last 2 wks and I’ve not been updating very well. I’m sorry for that.
The last 2 wks Judah has been receiving a partial chemo treatment. It is totally normal and part of this first 10 wk run. He had 4 wks of both drugs and these last 2 wks have been only 1 drug, vinchristine. This week he will go back to both drugs for 4 more wks.
Honestly, these 2 wks on vinchristine have felt like a break from chemo because the nausea, vomiting, and irritability have been pretty much absent (barring a few instances). The only thing we really notice was his balance was really off. I mean REALLy off. He has fallen a lot so he is covered from head to toe in bruises.
So today at PT Julie did her normal feet/leg stretching and did a test to see if he could feel her touching toes/arch/heels and he could on some and couldn’t on some. In watching him walk, climb, etc she said she thinks it could be neuropathy/foot drop. It could also be that his muscles are still redeveloping. Or it could be that where his tumor is located, in the brainstem, it could be causing balance issues too. So we aren’t sure.
One of the most common side effects of vinchristine is neuropathy. We didn’t put 2 and 2 together that the off balance could be neuropathy. We thought neuropathy was painful…we are new to this. The one good thing is this mess is that he isn’t experiencing any pain with the neuropathy!
Before we started chemo, Dr. Espenshade said that if the neuropathy got bad and foot drop was a more common side effect we would have to switch regiments. We don’t know what that looks like. We don’t know of this foot drop is the beginning of a “more common” or just a side effect. We don’t know if its something to be concerned about or just part of the chemo deal. So we will talk to oncology and PT and watch and see what the next step is to get him in a better, safer walking place while killing this cancer!

http://youtu.be/pTA3VJzX1uE

http://youtu.be/HyzE0-TdInc

Please be in prayer for:
-Clear direction with chemo regiment and side effects
-Explanation of neuropathy/foot drop and whether it will be permanent
-If permanent, what does that look like for Judah
-Continued no pain with neuropathy and little to no side effects as we go back to both drugs this wk
-Better balance for Judah in everyday activities like walking, running, jumping, climbing stairs, and riding Stridor bike
-MRI (9/18) shows no growth and/or shrinkage of the tumor

Thank you all!
Resting between His shoulders-
The Thacker Family

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No news…is not good for me and chemo day

Last night was thankfully uneventful. He slept great and his breathing was regular. We go to chemo this morning and we will see what Dr Spiller says. This may be related to his mental coordination that his neuro surgeon told us about.
If I didn’t explain it earlier, it’s where his brain isn’t capable of managing/controlling 2 things at once (ie: managing anger and breathing normally). So when he gets overly angry, his brain can’t both control his mood/physical lashing out and tell him to keep breathing, so he passes out. This is not supposed to be permanent. The surgeon said that any of the symptoms he is experiencing can possibly be blamed on his surgery/tumor and we won’t know what until he is at least 6 months post surgery.
We obviously would rather this to be a symptom of surgery and are praying that the passing out was the mental coordination and not the tumor growing or shunt malfunction.
Thank you for the kind words and prayers.

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Judah stops breathing and I almost have a heart attack

Judah just stopped breathing and passed out. Was out for about 30secs before he came too. Have calls into neuro surgeon and oncology. Please pray!

Well we talked to the Hem/Onc nurse and she said she would let our oncologist and neuro surgeon know and that they would probably call us to talk about it. However since his vitals were normal and his ox sats were good, they didn’t think it was emergent.
We haven’t heard from either dr yet so I’m guessing we won’t hear anything tonight. Tomorrow Judah has chemo at 9:30 so I will talk with his oncologist here and she what she thinks. Last week when his balance was off, she said if he was still off she would send us for a ct scan so we may do that tomorrow to make sure the shunt is working properly.
I have ckd his pulse ox all day and since recovering from passing out it has stayed between 92-96 so that is good. We will ck it night too.
Please be in prayer for both his breathing and overall brain safety.

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first chemo side effects…already

This morning at breakfast Judah was holding his jaws while he chewed. We asked him what was wrong and he said his mouth hurt. We asked him where it hurt and held the sides of his face. His jaws.
The oncologist had told us that one of the side effects of his chemo is neuropathy in jaws, fingers/hands, and toes/feet.
Please pray specifically for this to go away and stay away. Jaw pain/neuropathy on top of nausea will make him not want to eat no matter what we give him. If his calories drop we will have to go back to a feeding tube.

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baseline testing

We got to go to our home away from home as a family last night for the first time in almost a month! Judah got to take a real bath for the first time in over a month. We had dinner together, watched a movie together, read stories together and then went to bed! It was surreal and lovely and we thanked our precious Jesus for such a sweet return.
This morning we are back at Vandy for Judah’s baseline testing. Basically, they are checking kidney function, platelets/red/white blood cell counts, and liver functions. He will also have his hearing checked as hearing loss is a possible side effect of his chemo.
He wasn’t thrilled to be back here and when the nurses accessed his port, drew blood and injected the medicine for testing he was even less thrilled! It was pretty awful because the medicine had to be injected into a vein, not the port, but most of his easy veins were blown from previous ivs. It took them a good while but after they got it, it was smooth sailing.
Now we are just waiting for the 2hr mark to go get ckd again. Should be done around 1 today.

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Port Surgery, Post Surgery, and Discharged! What a day!

Judah has been taken back to surgery for his port placement. He was pretty upset when they wheeled him off. Prayers for comfort for Judah and steady handed Drs!

Judah is out of surgery and everything went as planned. He now has his port in place for chemo.
Please pray he bounces back from anesthesia quickly and his recovery continues to make steady progress. We are also hoping to get discharged soon and hope the feeding tube comes out.

Also join us in prayer for a definite plan for his OT/PT/Speech. Right now we don’t know where we are going or how those appts will look. We also need a plan for chemo if we get to come back to Knoxville for his therapy. Pray for clear direction.

We are officially discharged from the hospital!!!
We will be coming back tomorrow for baseline testing and then Wednesday is our first Chemo treatment but after that we get to come home to Knoxville!
We have been working hard for a week to figure out where we could do Judah’s pt/ot/speech and after giving up on Knoxville, I woke this morning and felt the urge to call East Tennessee Children’s Rehabilitation Center and just tell them our story in hopes they would change their minds about speech (it was wait listed for 6 months). They listened and then said that our oncologist could call and talk to them and of they felt Judah’s case was immediate enough they would move him to the top of the list.
So at 10am this morning I told our Case Manager, who told our oncologist, who agreed Andrew some calls and then after hrs of back and forth we got the word that they had agreed to take him!
So now we get to come home and do pt/ot/speech and Chemo in Knoxville! We are so grateful that we will be home, surrounded by our community, friends, support system. Thank you for your prayers. Keep them up. We have a long road and it is really just beginning. God is directing our path and we are finding that though this isn’t the rd we would choose, our sweet Jesus will not abandon us and will continue to go before us and behind us.

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Port Surgery tomorrow

Judah’s had a good couple of days.

As I sit here typing this, he’s snuggled in his hospital bed playing. That’s a big deal because he used to do that every night when we’d put him to bed but hasn’t since the surgery. We’d put him in bed around 8:30 and he’d lay there reciting the dialog or humming the theme music to his favorite movies or acting out fighting scenes from his Next Avengers cartoon until usually 9:30 or 10 (we’d only have to tell him to be quiet 3 or 4 times before he’d hush). He’s not quite back to his chatty self at the moment but he’s over there swinging and punching his way through some imaginary fight scene.

Judah got to spend yesterday afternoon and most of this morning with Papa Doc and Mumzy and got to spend this afternoon with Mimi and Papaw. A friend from our church who’s been through chemo before came and visited and showed Judah her port so he wouldn’t be scared of tomorrow’s surgery.

Most importantly, Judah has spent the last two days eating! He’s had three full meals a day for two days now and has eaten almost all of them. The docs still insist on giving him tube feedings at night but I feel like he’s getting the calories he needs now during normal eating. There is a chance he’ll get to go home tomorrow after his port surgery so we’re praying for a quick recovery so everyone will feel comfortable sending him home! The first chemo treatment will be on Wednesday so we won’t have time to head all the way back to Knoxville but at least he’ll be out of the hospital.

We also hope to get a few more details ironed out about his physical/occupational/speech therapy tomorrow so prayers for God’s guidance in that area are also appreciated.

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judah eats more food

Judah had a good night and woke this morning hungry. He ate 3 pieces of bacon, 2 strawberries, 1 container of blueberry yogurt, and 3/4 a carton of milk! Off to a good start! Keep praying he continues to improve and the tube comes out!

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real food and we get out of the PICU!

Judah got to try some yogurt for the first time since the surgery! Swallow study this afternoon will tell us if he can go back to eating regular food.

Judah passed his swallow study so he gets Chic-Fil-A for dinner tonight! We got to drive him around the hospital in a wagon with no wires and no nurses and he got a couple of stuffed animals from the gift shop. His speech is getting better his strength is growing and he’s in a better mood. Thank you for your continued prayers and praise Jesus for a happy and healing little boy!

What a day this has been! Judah wakes talking, plays hard, eats yogurt, passes his swallow study, gets out of the PICU for a wagon ride, and then comes back to his room for some Chic-Fil-A only to be told he will be moving to the floor soon!!! Praise Jesus for such a wonderful, hope restoring day.
Thank you for being a praying people.
He is now comfortably resting!

http://youtu.be/HKGV2TTXU8o

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Still here…

Still in the PICU.

Judah had a couple of naps today and during each of them he had a “desat”. That’s med-speak for his blood losing it’s oxygen saturation level. I put it in quotes (and yes I’m a little bitter) because I don’t actually believe either of the occasions were a real loss of oxygen in the blood but false positives inherent to the way this is measured. I made my case to the docs but out of an abundance of caution they took him off the list to move to a normal hospital room and decided to keep him in the PICU. We’ll pester them again tomorrow.

Otherwise he had a fantastic day today. He said a bunch of words today – honey, piglet, owl, brave, stuck, rabbit, bubby, my sister and parasaurolophus. None of them are perfect but the speech therapist says that his lips seem to be functioning well but his tongue’s not all there yet. He was super active, fighting dinosaurs with me (matthew), kicking his feet, sitting up on his own and batting both arms at a balloon. The PT/OT people had him up walking though not really holding his own weight up and he actually interacted willingly with them.

The next 6 days are likely to be frustrating and hectic. Judah’s oncologist wants to start chemo as soon as possible. While his tumor is the lowest grade and slow growing, it’s location means that any growth could have potential long term complications. So chemo starts Wednesday. Monday morning he’ll have his port put in (yes, another surgery with anesthesia), Tuesday he’ll have a bevy of tests to get some baselines before he starts chemo. Wednesday he gets the first treatment, followed every Wednesday for 10 weeks, then a two week break, then 4 weeks on and 1 off for a year.

Our problem is therapy. We had hoped they would be able to work something out were he could get pretty intensive outpatient therapy at Vandy but it’s not going to be ideal. For one they don’t have speech therapy so we’d have to find some place else for that. Second they would be wedging him in wherever there are openings in whomever’s schedule had an opening so there would be no routine or chance for a therapist to build report with him. It would be a different therapist at a different time every day for weeks and probably only an hour a day. There are other therapy centers that offer all three types, O/P/S, but they don’t take insurance and while their rates are lower than places that do take insurance we’d still be paying a ton out of pocket for the amount of therapy he needs.

Judah’s becoming more like his old self everyday but still needs lots of prayer. Prayer for continued healing, prayer for him to have patience for the dozens of people poking and prodding him and making him do stuff all day, prayer for a working therapy plan (and a way to pay for it), prayer for yet another surgery, prayer that chemo has few if any side effects and that it is effective in stopping the tumor permanently, prayer to get out of the PICU, prayer to get out of the hospital, prayer that Wendi and I have patience with the docs, nurses, bureaucracy and insurance companies and prayers for a long road ahead.

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