Julia completed her radiation on Tuesday and got to ring the bell for a third time with Dexter (her favorite radiation tech) and Ally (from Child Life) cheering her on. Ten radiation treatments down and never a complaint. Julia just takes these challenges on as part of daily life – no whining, no complaints.
After radiation, we headed to clinic for blood work and a doctor visit. All Julia’s labs were good and her counts have returned to normal. The ultrasound of her abdomen that was taken the day before showed no change – good results. Dr. Stern said that she was surprised how good Julia looked. After seeing her on Thursday during the hospital stay, it has been quite a change. An x-ray that was taken also showed a decrease in the mass. The radiation has made a difference and now we prepared for the next step to try to control the growth of the tumor.
Julia will be taking a drug called Temodar. It is an oral chemo that will be given for 5 days and then repeat every 28 days. Temodar is used in brain tumors to slow growth and they have had some success with it doing the same in solid tumors. Julia will not be having regular scans, but we will be watching for any clinical changes that will indicate that the drug is not working. It is a different world now – hard to comprehend and we are just not able to get our arms around the idea. We have lived with Julia having tests and scans for 3-1/2 years. Three years ago, we were looking towards the scans slowing at this point in time because Julia was moving further and further out from her cancer treatment. But here we are, talking about not having scans at future dates because the cancer is growing and there is no protocol for treatment.
But the roller coaster moves on…with the ups and downs of this awful disease.
Julia has had a good week. Each evening, she is getting both Zofran and Ativan one hour before the chemo pills. She then takes four Temodar pills and goes to sleep. She is sleeping well and not being bothered by nausea. The first two mornings after the chemo, she was very tired and slept in until 10 AM. Most importantly, Julia has felt good enough to go back to school for the last three days of the school year. It was a surprise to all her friends and Julia was so happy to see them. Julia got there late on Wednesday and Thursday, but today she woke up early, excited that it was the last day of school before summer vacation.
I drove her to school this morning and watched as she walked towards the building, smiling at everyone and giving hugs to the teachers as she passed them on the way to the door. I watched and began to sob uncontrollably. Would this be the last time I would drop Julia off at school?? The last time I watched that special bounce in her steps as she walked from the car…
Julia came home on the bus and was so excited to get in the house and show me “something special”. She asked me to carry her book bag. It was quite heavy with all the papers and books from the end of the year. When we got home, Julia unzipped her book bag and pulled out a single piece of paper. I knew today was the day her class gave out awards – awards that classmates voted on.
So there was Julia’s Award, it read “Julia Eveland – Biggest Bucket Filler”. I knew immediately what it was for, but John questioned when he saw it, “What’s a Bucket Filler?” Julia turned, very proudly, “It means I make people feel good about themselves. I say nice things. I treat them right. I make them happy.”
I smiled, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It has been a good week and even with the ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade it for the entire world. Julia is here, my bucket filler.