Julia started chemo on the evening of July 31 for the usual 5 day course – 5 pills a night along with her Zofran and Ativan. She had a scheduled clinic appointment yesterday that included an exam, blood work and x-ray. After her last clinic visit, we were concerned she may not be able to go to Ronald McDonald Camp. Because Julia had experienced some shortness of breath and the doctors heard diminished sounds in her mid-lung, we were worried that the tumor had started to grow again. It was a long 9 days between clinic visits.
We got to clinic and Julia quickly was taken back for the x-ray and blood work. Julia then walked back to the day hospital, looking for Dr. Stern as she brought her a tree she made for her out of clay. Julia had painted it with bright greens and a deep brown trunk, carving a heart and her initials on the bottom so Dr. Stern will know it was from her. “This will remind Dr. Julie of going to Ronald McDonald Camp with me.” Julia was so happy when she helped Dr. Stern find the perfect place on the book shelf in the office. Later that night Julia told me, “I think Dr. Julie really liked my tree, I don’t think she was pretending Mom.”
Julia had to tell everyone at clinic she was ready for camp and that she couldn’t wait to go back to have “waffles and ice cream for breakfast”. Megan, one of Julia’s favorite nurses and her child-life pal, Teri, even got a private viewing of Julia’s song that she wants to sing at the talent show. Julia sat in one of the chairs in the day hospital, having Megan pull the curtain closed. You could hear Julia singing “Tomorrow”, her optimism filling the air, tears filling my eyes.
We waited what seemed like forever for the results to come back. First, her lab work came back good – counts are normal. Then Dr. Stern went over to review the x-rays with the radiologist. Good News!!!! The x-ray showed no change from the last one taken in June! We are cautiously optimistic as we know that x-rays don’t show everything, but it appears that things are stable. Dr. Stern then examined Julia and we got better news. She said that Julia’s lungs sounded better than her last visit. Prayers answered.
After the exam, Dr. Stern had Julia make a pinky promise that she would make sure to take the golf carts, not walking the big hills at camp and that Julia would be sure to come see her if she was tired. Julia then went out to see Terri and all the nurses. We spoke with Dr. Stern for a bit. Julia’s exam was much better than her last visit. Dr. Stern was as concerned as we were that Julia would not be well enough to go to camp. She explained that it was possible that there was some fluid that had built up and has since dissipated.
Dr. Stern assured us that everyone would be watching out for Julia at camp and the counselors would be familiar with her case. It also puts our minds at ease that Dr. Stern will be at the camp with Julia. As fate would have it, one of Julia’s counselors in the Maple group will also be one of our niece Nicole’s best friends. Jenn, Julia’s art therapist (who is helping Julia make all her wonderful works of art) told us this week that she made sure to let one of the social worker’s going to camp about Julia and to make sure she keep an eye on her. One of Julia’s friend’s parents also knows someone who is on the Board of RMC and will be at the camp. She will also be checking in on Julia. Lots of angels watching out for our angel.
So tomorrow morning, we drive to CHOP to get Julia on a bus to Ronald McDonald Camp. We have packed and labeled all Julia’s clothes and prepared a bag with all and any medications she may need. It is going to be such a hard week for us, but we take some comfort in knowing that Julia is having a great time with friends, just getting to be a kid and forgetting even for a short time, that she has cancer.