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April
Since the intensification chemotherapy had started late in March, it would continue for most of April.

Adam soon decided that nurse Martha was his favorite. She is great with him. Adam did not want anyone else to access his medi-port or do any procedures on him. Martha always takes time to do things in the best possible way to help Adam feel at ease. Or at least as much at ease as any 5 year old can feel being in a hospital having all kinds of needles poked into you, drugs administrated, IV's started, and tests done. I can't say enough good things about Martha and every other nurse in the clinic. They are all wonderful!

We could never get Adam to relax when Martha was about to stick the needle in his medi-port. In fact, he would scream at the top of his lungs. This was just his way of dealing with it. Martha took it all in stride. She even gave Adam an award, printed on the computer, for being     "THE WORLD'S LOUDEST PATIENT". Thank you Martha. We will never forget you.
Adam and Nurse Martha

Martha shows Adam how to get his latest
blood counts from the computer.

Dr. Castle wanted to have an MRI done on Adam. This would be his third one. Two others had been done at St. John Hospital. I will never forget Adam doing his best to be brave for this one.

An MRI has got to be a very scary thing for a child. They have to slide into a narrow tube, not move for 30 or 40 minutes, and endure very loud noises from the machinery. Adam had been sedated for his other MRI's. Dr. Castle wanted to avoid sedation if possible. So we did it without any. I stayed in the MRI room with Adam. By leaning over and reaching as far as I possibly could into the tube I was just able to reach one of his hands and hold it. Adam did his best for the whole time to hold still. There was only one time when he almost lost it. He fought down his fear and managed to get through the ordeal with flying colors! Once again I was as proud as a father can be for my little boy. I don't think too many 5 year olds could do what he did. It is a very scary experience.

Part of intensification required that Adam come home from clinic with his medi-port still accessed. This was done so I could give doses of the drug Ara-C through his port for four days. He was not happy to have a needle stuck in his port and all taped over for four days. He was even less happy when I prepared to inject the Ara-C each morning. We got through it but I think my ears still ring a little from the screaming! I can put up with the screams. If Adam struggled as much as he screamed, then we would have had a problem. However, he was smart enough to know that I was going to do this one way or another, so he always let me get it done.

Adam went through a lot with this round of intensification. He was given drugs I never heard of. These included:
   Doxorubicin
   L-asparaginase
   Decadron
   Cytoxan
   Ara-C
Each includes its own list of short and long term side effects. So far Adam has tolerated them well, except for being allergic to L-asparaginase. We can only cross our fingers about the long-term effects.

Cancer is a horrible thing for anyone. But it is especially horrible for a child. It literally steals much of their childhood away from them. Some will not make it. Others suffer permanent mental and/or physical effects. The list of drugs, with their potentially crippling side effects, is very long. But there is no other choice. Adam's only chance is chemotherapy.

Sometime in the late winter or early spring Adam did something that was a major relief for all of us. He started to swallow his pills. Up until this time we had been crushing the pills and mixing them with juice. For a long time we had been forcing this into Adam by holding him down, pinching his nose, and forcing the liquid into his mouth. It was terrible, and stressful, for all of us to do it this way. When Adam finally decided to swallow his pills we were amazed. I never thought I would see this day. From what I had read of the experiences of other kids I knew that many of them can't swallow pills when the are 8, 9, or even older. Once again I am very proud of my little boy!
Despite a hard and busy month of chemotherapy
we still found some time to have fun. Here Adam is
very proud of his latest creation.

At the end of the month Dr. Castle said she felt Adam should not receive another round of intensification chemotherapy. Now that he is allergic to asparaginase it cannot be given to him any more. It was a major part of intensification.

The thought of no more chemo, other than 6-MP each day, methotrexate each week, and dexamethasone each month, scares me. I had read of other parents expressing fears when the more active part of chemotherapy was done. Now I know how they feel when they get to this point. It seems like we have not done enough to fight the leukemia and we are just hoping to be lucky from this point on. When we were actively doing various types of chemotherapy it felt like we were fighting this thing. Now I feel helpless.

Last year, on the internet, I heard about a camp for children with life threatening illnesses. It is on Lake Sebago in Maine and is called Camp Sunshine. I emailed them about attending this year. They said applications could be submitted in January, which I did. They called us in April and told us we had been accepted for the June camp!

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