Order amid Chaos

Michael Anderson
The Course for a Cure

I was stunned and speechless. My mind seemed to go on automatic pilot as they talked at me. Whatever they said just bounced off. I couldn't absorb anything else that night. They helped me gather up our things, put Michael back in the wheelchair and led us over the interior bridge to Children's Hospital. Mike was taken promptly to the oncology floor and into a private room where he fell right to sleep. I, however, sat up and stared out the window at the skyline of Philadelphia for hours through swollen and teary eyes.

Finally, I fell into an exhausted sleep. The next morning, when I awoke, the hospital room quickly jolted my mind back to the night before. I looked at my child, so pale and innocent. What did he ever do to deserve this? A team of doctors soon arrived. They woke him up brusquely poking and prodding and talking among themselves. They briefly glanced my way with a nod of acknowledgement.

A woman in a white coat came in to draw his blood. A young Asian doctor entered. He was to be Mike's oncologist. He didn't know yet what kind of leukemia Mike had but that would be discovered in a few days. Mike needed to endure two procedures to remove some bone marrow and a sample of spinal fluid. The bone marrow sample would determine what kind and the spinal would show if it had crossed over into the nervous system, apparently not a good thing to happen. I sat in the procedure room with him while they removed the necessary fluids, not a happy occasion for either one of us, but we survived.

Two days later, they reported to both Mike's dad and me. The leukemia did not pass over into the nervous system but the leukemia he had was very rare. They did not give us good odds for survival. They explained that they were putting him on the most successful protocol to date for this kind of leukemia called "Mixed Lineage". This leukemia, the doctors explained had characteristics of both childhood leukemia (ALL) and adult leukemia (AML). The protocol consisted of chemotherapies used to battle both ALL and AML leukemias. He would get a double whammy to cover both bases. They explained the many side affects of the drugs on the body. But not doing the chemotherapies would most likely result in death. We chose the protocol and they began the therapy.