Monday, March 5, 2012

Next Steps

Remember when we said that cancer was bad and that a relapse was worse?
Today, we found out just how much worse.

Elena's doctor made it clear that a relapse is very serious and hard to treat.
He said that Elena's bone marrow is obviously producing leukemia cells and that what we did the first time wasn't successful. This time has to be different. Today he said, "We are not backing off. We do not want to undertreat it, we want to knock it out."

Even though we have been with Elena's doctor for almost three years, we just found out today that he specializes in ALL relapse. He not only specializes in ALL relapse, but he heads the national Children's Oncology Group task force on the subject! Needless to say, we have the best in our corner! What a blessing in this seemingly dark time!

Today, he presented what he believes to be the most promising plan for Elena.

The first month will involve high dose chemo in order to get her into remission. Once in remission, Elena would continue to receive chemo for the next two months in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. This is the ultimate goal of her treatment plan.

Looking ahead:
On Wednesday, March 14th, Elena will go to the clinic. From there, she will be admitted into the hospital. Her first three months of treatment will be at Scottish Rite. At which point, she would then be transferred to the Bone Marrow Transplant Team at Egleston.

On Thursday, March 15th, Elena will have surgery to place her line.

We are told that this time Elena will have to have an external CVL (central line) rather than an internal port. An external CVL means no swimming, no showers, and saline flushes at home! When Elena found out this information, she got tears in her eyes. She said that means that she won't be having a pool party for her 13th birthday. This will also be her fourth birthday in a row on chemo!!

While sedated for the surgery, Elena will also have a spinal tap to determine if leukemia cells are present in her brain and spine.

This is an aggressive plan. We know it will not be easy on Elena. It will not be easy on any of us. Once Elena is admitted into the hospital next week, she will be there for at least three weeks.

While today's information still seems overwhelming, we are happy that we have a plan.
We have hope.

We are so thankful that our friend, Stacee, was able to be with us today, to be another set of ears and much more. We are grateful that we came home to a wonderful homecooked meal waiting in our frig, including strawberry shortcake for dessert! There were even goodies for breakfast in the morning! Packages had also been delivered that held many fun surprises for all of us!
We are counting these among our blessings on this hard day.

Please continue to pray for us.
In the days to come, we will share specific prayer requests.

In Him,
The Tates

"So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10


  1. I am so glad to hear you have a plan and that you have such a very talented and ready doctor on your side - God truly is guiding and placing everything together for you all and Elena. Continued prayers for you all.
    Much love,
    The Fredlunds

  2. Thank you so much for being thoughtful enough to update us. We will continue to pray faithfully. I am glad that we have world class medicine to treat our Elena. With our love, the mcbrayers

  3. Hello Tate's! My name is Dee Cooke and my daughter, Courtney, also has ALL. We will be entering into the delayed intensification phase on March 14 and will be at the clinic that day too. Dr Lew is also our doctor. I heard about you all from our freind Kim Boone, who I know is your neighbor. I will be praying for you all everyday and all day. I cannot imagine what your hearts and minds feel like today. I know they are heavy. I will pray for a peace in your hearts and spirit and an absolute cure for Elena. Thank you for keeping us updated. God be with all of you as you do this horrible journey all over again.

  4. Sending hugs to all of you and praying hard!!

    Greg Arthur

  5. I am praying for you. Never forget that the Lord is with you an there is reason behind everything. I wish you, Elena, your family and friends the best.

  6. Continue to pray for you all EVERY day. LOVE you all very much. - Tim

  7. I will be praying for Elena and you all. I know God will keep His arms around you and your family! -Brandin Alston