Vocabulary Lesson – Neutropenia

Does this look like a sick kid to you!??
Does this look like a sick kid to you!??

I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what it meant to be neutropenic until Havyn started chemo a few months back. According to the Mayo Clinic:

Neutropenia is an abnormally low level of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a common type of white blood cell important to fighting off infections — particularly those caused by bacteria.

And guess who’s neutropenic? That’s right…

I took Havyn for chemo this morning. This was supposed to be her last dose for a few weeks. She’s is a 4-week on, 2-week off cycle which is designed to let her body recover from the effects of the chemo. A normal Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) is anywhere from 2000 to 7800. Below 1000 and they start to worry. Below 500 and it’s no chemo and you are very susceptible to infections. Havyn’s ANC this morning was 450.

That was the bad news. The good news is that she feels great and is acting like our sweet, joyful little girl. And in her mind, today was a great day because she didn’t get her port poked.

As far as the chemo goes, we’ll head in next Tuesday to have her counts checked. If her ANC has climbed above 500 then they’ll hit her with her last dose for this 4-week round.

She’s done so well and we continue to meet great people on every visit. If you’re taking time to pray for Havyn, would you please add Easton and Adrian to your list? Hayvn played with both of these guys today. Both of them are around her age and fighting different forms of cancer. You should have seen the waiting room when Havyn walked in. Easton was playing on the little fire truck toy. He looked up at Havyn and his eyes grew as big as saucers. His parents told us that he’s been asking if “that girl” was going to be at the doctor. The two of them were best of buds most of the morning.

I love the way that Havyn continue to show joy and strength in the midst of a trial. She doesn’t realize she’s doing it, and doesn’t know what an inspiration to me she is. Not only does she carry her big smile with her everywhere she goes (except when the 3-year old pouty mood kicks in… and you should see that lip!) but she is remarkably generous. Aunt Lindsay gave her some foam hearts and stickers to play with today. She shared, without being prodded, with the other kids at chemo and with a therapist after that. Then after lunch she offered me the first cherry from her sundae and the first bite of her ice cream! Her generosity – and the love and support from so many of our friends – has been teaching me quite a bit. I think I’ve got a ways to go…

In other news, we received great news late last week. A letter from Humana came in the mail and said that our appeal had been heard and they’ve agreed to pay for Havyn’s new scoliosis brace! While we’d pay any price for our daughter’s care, having the burden of a $2000 brace lifted is quite a relief! Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement for us as we waited. I’m glad it wasn’t more of a fight, but you know this daddy was ready for it!

We remain grateful for all of the love that everyone has shown our family.


5 Replies to “Vocabulary Lesson – Neutropenia”

  1. Steve….I am a friend of your mother’s from Annapolis, and would like to take a minute to share my thoughts….
    Through all her struggles, your sweet Havyn is a wonderful example of selflessness and courage. But, I would like to say that you and Tammy are obviously very special parents that show those same attributes. Every post of Havyn’s Journey, tells the story of parents that know that family is the most important part of God’s plan. And, although, it must be so difficult to always keep happiness in your hearts, you and Tammy always find a way to faithfully guide Havyn’s through her continuing journey. I hope that as you travel this road, you take the time to take care of each other, too.

  2. It’s a joy to read these posts about your brave , big hearted baby girl. She is always in our prayers, as are you and Tammy.

  3. Great news about the brace! And I love the story about Easton’s response to Havyn. Love and hugs from your sis (Aunt Goie)

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