So much has changed since January.
January of 2014, Carter wasn't feeling great. He had been sick with a regular bug and had a low grade fever that persisted for a few weeks. One night at mom's house, I noticed he had a strange rash all over his body. (This is unlike Carter because he never gets rashes). Took him to his pediatrician the next day and they deemed it a virus. After checking him for the flu, various viruses, strep, etc.. we were told to just wait it out and that it was just a virus leaving his body. He was also playing flag football around this time so his body was under a good bit of stress, running around in the cold.
After practice a few nights he would complain of joint pain. I sort of pushed it off as just being from football, but one night after his shower, he could hardly walk and was crying trying to come to eat dinner. I decided to take him to Nason Medical Center down the street.
Wondering what it could be like a typical worry stricken mother I asked and was told Leukemia was a possibility. My grandpa has had Leukemia off and on for most of his life, so I naturally, expected the worst, but put a brave face on and drove downtown.
Carter was admitted and stayed at MUSC for ten days. He had various tests run (many!) had blood taken daily (poor thing). I have to take a moment to brag and say that Carter absolutely has no problems with being worked on. He didn't fuss, or wiggle, he just took it. Grown man status.
Anyways, he had a bone marrow biopsy done. That was fun. Again he did fine. Mom did not. He had a piece of his skin removed to have it biopsied, to which we were told it looked like it came from a virus. He has a nifty scar on his thigh from this. We met many nice doctors. They thought he might have juvenile arthritis among other things, and they continued to search.
Each morning we would expect the doctors to tell us why he wasn't getting better. They didn't have a definitive answer. Tests came back negative. Carter kept a fever. He had to have blood transfusions which agitated his rash since he had some sort of leaky vein thing going on. He looked a wreck. We felt a wreck. We really just wanted to know what was going on with our boy. 10 days later, no one knew still. The results of his bone marrow biopsy showed no cancer or leukemia, but also didn't look completely right.
We were allowed to leave after 10 days since his fever left him. However we still had to go back to the hospital to have his blood levels monitored. Finally, a test result came in. A chromosome breakage test had indicated he might have a genetic condition called Fanconi Anemia. Several agonizing weeks later, his genetic results came back and confirmed that my recessed trait, plus my husband's recessed trait, equaled one dominant trait for Fanconi Anemia in our otherwise perfectly healthy boy.
31 children get this diagnosis each year. I think our doctor said Carter is one of 3 (?) In our state with this. We knew he was special, but ...
Fanconi Anemia is an inherited anemia that leads to bone marrow failure. It is a blood disease that can also effect other areas of the body. We have been SO blessed in that Carter doesn't show many of the other abnormalities that can accompany FA. After a patient with Fanconi Anemia has had a bone marrow transplant, they are still very susceptible to cancer and have to be extra diligent in their preventative care.
This diagnosis has impacted Carter because he is currently not allowed to play any contact sports and can also get hurt seriously if he gets hit in the head. His platelet counts have remained low and bleeding is a concern.
However, other than that, our family continues to truck along. We have been told that in the next one to two years, Carter will need to have a bone marrow transplant. His will be given from umbilical cord stem cells since he wasn't able to be matched in the donor database.
We are adopting a philosophy of trusting God for the day to day. Living in the moment. Being thankful, strong, resilient and brave. We are dealing with much less than many have to deal with in this life.
As Carter's mom, I want to encourage him to live his life normally as much as possible. So if any of our friends and family are reading this, we would appreciate if you can do the same. Don't treat him any different, other than being mentally aware of his condition. We don't want him to feel like he is any different than anyone else. We are so blessed by your support in this area.
This is a whole new chapter of our lives. Completely swamped with new information, goals, worries, fears, and needs. But, we are here, we are trusting, and we have great family and friends!
If we could ask for your help in any way, it would be for you to...
- Sign up to join the national bone marrow donor registry. I've done it myself. It is simple and easy and free. All you do is send off for the kit and swab your cheek! There is never a cost to you and you could be the life saving donor of someone else's baby. In some cases, a successful bone marrow transplant can help to restore a child's health and almost cure them of their disease!
Go here to sign up.. http://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-bone-marrow/join-the-marrow-registry/
- Also, within the next one to two years, Carter will be experiencing a difficult time as he undergoes his transplant. He will have to be in the hospital for 6 weeks and then stay out of school for 9 months as his immune system recovers. He, as well as I and his dad, will need love, support, and encouragement from family and friends! I'm a little worried about us two social butterflies as we are isolated alone together for so long! :) Any ideas of ways to pass time/visits when possible/phone calls/skype sessions will be greatly appreciated in this time! We plan on getting another lap top for our use while there.
- Be a source of encouragement for Carter. We need teammates and coaches as we travel along this new path!
Jessie - Carter's mom.