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Monday, October 13, 2008

Anderson's Diagnosis

In May of 2000 Anderson was 4 1/2 years old and I was 5 months pregnant with Sydney. Anderson became very emotional and started to complain that his legs hurt and he didn't want to run and play. Being my first, I assumed this was normal for a strong willed, little boy at that age. I'll admit I was pretty hard on him, telling him to "stop complaining and go outside and play." The symptoms got worse and I noticed redish, purple dots all over his stomach. At first I thought he had taken a magic marker to his tummy but that wasn't the case. A trip to the doctor sent us home with allergy medication. That was helpful. I still remember having to pin Anderson to the floor to get him to swallow that medicine. A day later and Anderson had a fever. I still didn't think much but my mom was really worried. On Monday May 22 I took him in again to the doctor. His fever wouldn't go down and his breath smelled like something had died! Both me and the nurse figured he had a sinus infection so when the doctor ordered blood tests I thought they were a waste of time. And boy was that first blood draw fun...if only I had know how many more were to come.

Later that day I was mowing the lawn and Anderson wanted to ride with me. Being pregnant it had been a long time since I had let him hop on during mowing but something caused me to tell him that he could. Together we mowed the lawn.

After John got home from work he and the boys went for a walk to the canal (where the new high school is being built.) A favorite father-son activity, I got to stay behind and catch up on the laundry. I remember looking out the window of my laundry room and watching the boys head down the street. I watched as John bent over and picked up Anderson and put him on his shoulders. My first thought was that Anderson must have complained about his legs again. Normally I would have returned to my dirty clothes but something made me stand there and enjoy the moment until they were out of sight.

I now know that Heavenly Father was giving me several moments of peace that I would be able to look back on and appreciate.

That evening we received a call from our doctor saying that Anderson's test had come back (they weren't due for another day) and that Anderson was anemic. He needed to come into the hospital for some more tests.

I still felt that nothing was too wrong. Grandpa Cazier and Daddy gave him a blessing, we dropped Cayden off at Grandma Mathews' house and we headed to the hospital.

As soon as we got into a room our doctor came in and told us they suspected Leukemia. I listened to him spout off numbers and statistics but it wasn't until he told us that the top Cancer Doctor in the Tri-Cities was going to come in that it hit me. I leaned up against the wall as I realized that we were talking about cancer. Not the breast cancer that torments both sides of my family, not me having cancer, but my baby boy. My oldest son who was not even in school yet. How could that even be possible.

We were set to drive Anderson to Children's hospital in a day or two, but after the Cancer specialist took a look at his blood results we were scheduled to head out in an ambulance first thing in the morning. They took another blood sample and as soon as those results were in we were scheduled for an immediate emergency air lift to Seattle. Later we found that had we stayed in the Tri-Cities Anderson would not have made it through the night.

The next several hours were a nightmarish blur of tears, phone calls, nurses and family. At first they told us that John could come with me and Anderson on the plane but then they said that there wouldn't be room for him. Anderson clung to Grandma Mathews in the hospital room as she rocked him and sang to him. Family members waited outside in the hall...Alicia and Bill took their minds off everything by reading an I Spy book as they sat on the floor outside the nurses station.

Anderson didn't want to leave Daddy and Grandma until he realized that he got to ride in the back of an ambulance to the airport. Once we were on the plane and in the air my heart sank. I just knew my sweet little boy was going to die. I prayed over and over again that our plane would hit a mountain and that I could die with him. I even thought that maybe that is why John couldn't come with us, then Cayden would still have a dad after I was gone. These thoughts left and were replaced by a hymn that I repeated over and over again in my mind. To this day I can not remember what that hymn was, but if I did I am sure it would now be my favorite.When we landed at Boeing Field in Seattle Anderson was talking up a storm. The Air flight Nurses thought he was the cutest thing. He was so excited that right next to our plane was a parked helicopter. Another trip in an ambulance and we were safe at Children's hospital.

Anderson was placed in a high risk category because of the amount of "blasts" or Leukemia cells in his blood stream. From the time they took his blood at the doctors office to the time they took it at Kadlec, the cancer cells had almost doubled. By the time we reached Children's it had nearly doubled again. Thank goodness for Chemotherapy. We were told that the redish/purple dots were petichei. Anderson was basically bleeding internally. His bad breath...he was dying inside.

Anderson has been poked and prodded more than any child should. In the beginning, at 4 1/2, he would get mad, cry and (to my horror) call the nurses stupid. My wonderful, amazing mom simply held Anderson and said, "Honey, the nurses aren't stupid. They are actually very smart. But what they have to do to you sure feels stupid doesn't it." After he received his port, he became a pro at getting blood draws and being "accessed" was just a part of life.

He was on so many different medications that he was happy and silly one minute and angry and in tears the next. The huge amounts of Prednisone caused him to puff up and to eat like there was no tomorrow. He had weekly treatments were they would sedate him and then give him a spinal tap of chemo so that it could attack the Leukemia that was in the brain. We were in Seattle, staying at the Ronald McDonald House, for a year. Two times we were able to come home for a two month period, and lucky for me one of those stays was when Sydney was born. We had a lot of family time that year. We learned to love the RMH and the people who stayed there. We had some fun times and I will be sharing those throughout this week.

The first week we were at the RMH my dad brought Anderson a Chicken Soup for The Little Soul CD. When my mom and I played the second song we couldn't believe what we heard. It is sung by a little girl and a boy, and as the words came out through the CD player this is what we heard"

Tell ya what I'm thinking, honestly and true,
How come I came to life as me and not to life as you?
Oh I know the feeling of when I'm by myself,
I wonder why I'm who I am and not somebody else.
Way down underneath it all where no one gets to see.
I'll bet it feels no different being you or being me.
Why was I born when I was born?
Who was I born to be?
Why was I given, the body I'm livin' in?
(girl) Why am I Gabriel?
(boy) Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?
Why am I here? Why am I now?
Why am I who you see?
Why was I handed the person I've landed in?
(girl) Why am I Gabriel?
(boy) Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?
If I was born, somebody else,
betcha I still would be me.
So many beings I know I could be me in.
Why must I be in this being you see me in?
(girl) Why am I Gabriel?
(boy) Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?
Why am I me? Why am I me? Why am I me?


Kris said...

Wow, this is quite the story. I can't believe how fast you got rushed to Seattle. How terrifying as a mother to hear the word cancer. I'm intrigued with how everything went. Thanks for sharing this.

Brenda said...

Wow Amy, I can't imagine what you went through as a mother. I am glad all is well.

Mike Brinkerhoff said...

...speechless... but thank you so much for sharing this amazing story.

Bren's Life said...

Oh my Goodness Amy! I have chills. I would of never of even guessed you had anything buyt a perfect lttle family & life. I just can't even imagine the heartache you've been through. Every mothers worst nightmare is for one of their kids to be sick & you've had to endure this for so long.
I hope he is in remission & is healthy & happy & that the trial of cancer is over for him.
I am so sorry you've had to go through this. But it sounds like you have come out of it so strong.

4starmom said...

Anderson has a special mission to fulfill, I'm sure of it.

Dandee said...

I can't wait to see what this weeks posts hold.

You shared that story so beautifully.

Alicia said...

Wow. Even though I was there for this, I was young and engaged and my heads were sort of in the clouds. Hearing you tell the story in detail like this, from your perspective, was, well, chilling. I never realized how serious everything was, even though I knew it was cancer. What an amazing post. Can't wait for the rest of the week.

Mikki said...

Oh, my dear sweet new friend. I'm in tears reading this. I can't imagine living through such an ordeal. I pray everything has turned out well. I see his pictures on your blog, so I'm assuming it has. I can't wait to read the rest of your posts this week to find out.
You are an amazing family. I can see our father has truly blessed you throughout this ordeal.

Jan said...

I didn't know you at the time of all of this Amy, I so wish I had of. You haved shared Anderson's story beautifully. I am really in tears right now. I can't even imagine the different scales or degrees of worry or wonders you experienced during that time. We are so grateful to see him pass the sacrament and be able to perform his priesthood duties so wonderfully. He always has a big smile and a cheerful disposition. I love that about him. He does have a mission as Natasha said.

Thanks for sharing.

Kristen said...

Oh what a nightmare! Such a sad dreadful experience for you as a mom and for Anderson to be so young. Not that cancer is easy at any age, but somehow it seems extra worse when it's a young child. What a brave little boy he had to be. Thanks for sharing this story. I'm sure it was comforting to recall how far you've all come but how painful it is to remember. Is Anderson's cancer all gone now?

Noelle said...

i am really glad you are telling this story. i remember it happening, i remember it seeming like forever that he was being treated but i never knew the details. just in this first issue of the story , you see the Lord's hand in so many ways, saving Anderson in simple things. it shows me how good people do have bad things happen to them but it doesn't mean the Lord doesn't love them and look out for them.

rip said...

I knew the story of Anderson, but I didn't know the details. Thanks for sharing. What an excruciating painful thing for your family. I have a feeling it has made you stronger.

Nicki said...

How do you ever let him out of your sight? Thank you for sharing you story.

Lisa said...

I was out running errands today and something made me think about you and Anderson and all that your family had been through. I have no idea what made me think of it. And then I came home and saw that you had written a post about it. Thank you. I was so touched by everything you wrote. Your experiences, your thoughts, your feelings. You are a great inspiration to me as I face my struggles with Elisabeth's health.

Em and Ms said...

I've heard bits and pieces, but never the whole story of what happened to Anderson. I can't believe all that you had to go through, and so suddenly! But as I read your story, I noticed the blessings along the way to help you cope.

~The Robin's Nest~ said...

You have helped me so much with your last few posts... Thank you so much for posting the things about your baby the other day and then today about Anderson. I really really needed to hear these things. God is Amazing isn't he?
You are such a blessing to me Amy. Thank you.

SuzanSayz said...

Oh Amy,now you've gone and made me cry. I still remember your mom telling me and a few others all that was going on with Anderson.(I think it must have been some family event) I just felt so sick for you. I was simply amazed that he came through it all like he did. He is one incredible kid and you and John are such examples for us. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story.

Marilyn said...

Amy, so much of this story is new to me...we were living in the Enumclaw area at the time, and I really felt out of the loop on what was going on, so I am looking forward to reading more of the details.

Alicia said...

Hey, go to my blog to see your major award.

lindsay>boo said...

Wow, Amy. Thanks so much for sharing. I can't even imagine. You really experienced every mother's worst nightmare. You have such a strong and amazing family and are such an example to us all.

Deborama said...

Every Mom's nightmare! I didn't realize how long you were in the RMhouse. Its funny how I'v heard you talk about it before and it doesn't feel that scary because we all know he is okay and how it turned out but going through it must have been so hard! Especially such a young family, I never got off the couch when I was having my third! :)

Ms. Kristen said...

What a beautiful post! This is when I met you! I was so amazed at your strength!
What a great way to remember your feelings! Just think, Anderson's grandchildren will read this someday~!
And by the way.....I love your mom!

debsters said...

I remember that day so, so well. Didn't he go to preschool in the morning and was in Seattle that night? Phyllis called us and let us know what was happening and that the family was starting a fast. I just remember thinking It can't be cancer, it just can't be.

What an amazing story. Anderson is one of a kind.

meohmyers said...

I, too, am reading this knowing full well that Anderson is fine now but can't imagine what you had to go through as his mom not knowing what the final outcome would be. What a scary time in your life but what a comfort with all the blessings. I'm so glad it was caught in time. You're a very blessed little family indeed.