It has been nearly a year since that faithful day Briley was diagnosed. I've learned a lot about myself during that time. I think we all have. This blog is a reflection on day number 1.
The day that the doctor said, "Briley has leukemia", is one that will haunt us forever. Briley had a bad case of the flu a couple of weeks. The fever finally broke but she never completely got over it. We noticed that she was pale, bruising real easy, and she couldn't stay warm. She would actually sit in front of a floor heater for the better part of the day. Alicia and I figured all of this was just an after effect of a bad case of the flu. We could only wish.
Alicia's sister-in-law, Liz, continued to tell Alicia over a period of several days that something was wrong and that Briley needed further testing. Since she doesn't see Briley every day, she was able to easily notice something wasn't right. She also lost her 3 year old son to complications from a heart deformity. She had a keen eye.
Finally, Alicia agreed to take Briley to see the doc. Alicia called me and asked that I would make an appointment. Of course I argued with her. I'm the kind of guy that doesn't go to the doctor unless I absolutely need to. If my kids get sick, it will run it's course. But eventually, she made the appointment and I agreed to take her.
The doctor looked her over and advised to have blood work done. Off to the lab Briley and I went. The blood was drawn and I waited around for the results. Since I am an employee of the small hospital, we all know each other and I usually get the results before the doc does. But not this time. Tiffany said the machine messed up and that she would need to run the test again. Little did I know, she already knew what the doctor was about to tell us.
Briley and I hung around the waiting room watching tv. Dr. Niles poked his head in and asked where Alicia was at. I told him she is at work. He said to have her come up to the hospital because there is something to discuss. Of course my mind starts racing about what might be wrong, but cancer never did cross it. I called Alicia and she arrived at the hospital in a short time. Dr. Niles led us into the CEO's office. Dr. Chu, Dr. Martin, and Larry P.A. also joined us. At this time I'm thinking that this isn't good with all of the docs in here to tell us what they found.
Then Dr. Niles said the words, "Briley has leukemia". Alicia immediately started crying. I was speechless. I remember everything being somewhat of a haze. This is not real. My mind is working fast now. Everything in the room is blurred. Dr. Niles said that we must get to Cooks quickly and that they are expecting us. The only other thing I remember is Dr. Chu saying that leukemia is 85-90% curable. I made her repeat the statistic on our way out.
We left the hospital and picked up Bryson at daycare. Alicia and I both called our parents to break the news. I will never forget telling mom the news and her reaction. We got home and started packing bags. It wasn't long before our house filled up with visitors handing us money. News does travel fast in a small town and sometimes it's not a bad thing. At this time, I'm still in a daze. I'm walking around confused. I don't know if I'm going or coming. I can't concentrate on packing bags. I really don't know what leukemia is other than it's not good.
Somehow we packed the bags. I stopped for just a second and looked up leukemia in my A&P book. Good cure rate, cancer of the blood, this is going to change our lives.
Bryson stayed with Nana and off to Ft. Worth we went. I can promise you that this was the longest 2 hour & 15 minute trip that we have ever taken. It was non-stop crying and praying the entire trip. A couple of times I had to slow down and pull over on the shoulder until I could regain myself. But then, that's one of the three times that I really believe God spoke through Briley. Out of the blue, Briley said, "Stop crying, it's going to be o.k.".
After arriving at Cooks, I knew that this was serious when we took Briley through the Ambulance ER entrance and they quickly whisked us away to a room. No waiting for us. After vitals, IV, checking in, we finally made it to our home for the next month and a half on the 3rd floor. It was 11:00pm by now. Briley's doctor was there waiting on us! She had already looked at Briley's cells under a microscope and determined what type of leukemia it probably was and confirmed the high cure rates that we were told earlier in the day. However, further testing would be needed. Dr. Vallance stayed in our room for as long as we had questions to ask. Our nurse that night was a God send also. Her son was a pediatric cancer survivor. She truly made our first night in the hospital a little better and somewhat put our minds at ease, but the reality of the situation had not sank in yet.