A lot of people have asked what is wrong with Brantley. To give everyone an understanding of this cancer. It started in his bone marrow where new blood is made. It's a single white blood cell called a "blast" that developed a series of mistakes or mutations that allow it to multiply uncontrollably. Eventually, the cancer takes over the bone marrow and crowds out the normal blood cells. Most children with ALL have symptoms for a few weeks to several months before a diagnosis is made.
Since he just turned 3, the only symptom we seen was fatigue, paleness, slight fever, and he vomited once. Taking our son to his pediatrician the next day only thinking he may have the stomach bug or flu at worst. His pediatrician could tell something was wrong with him by looking at his pale fatigue face and felt his liver and spleen enlarged and order a blood test. He knew Brantley was ill and ordered a blood test. As it came back with extreme low blood counts on all three levels, red, white and pla. He directed us to children's immediately.
Children's confirmed our pediatrician test results and immediately started blood transfusions and platlets. This was to get his blood cell count back up and to undergo a bone marrow test to confirm his illness. This felt like the longest wait of our life.
The Long Road of Treatment
Induction Phase - This is the first phase of treatment that usually last for four weeks. He will receive his medication by his IV port and in the spine and steroids by mouth. Of course other medication to try and offset the side effects. The goal is to kill the leukemia cells and allow normal blood cells to return.
To end the first phase, a bone marrow test will be performed and if the test results come back as normal blood cells he will proceed into the next phase. Next phase called consolidation, will continue treatment for the next 12 to 14 weeks. If all goes well then we enter the final stage called maintenance for up to 2 to 3 years. Every child is different and time frame is long.