Harrison is Diagnosed with Leukemia

Harrison is Diagnosed with Leukemia

Posted on 18. Apr, 2012 by Jeff Lambert in Family

Today Gin randomly happens to ask me the dates that Harrison was going through chemo. I don’t know how it happens but it sparked my memory of the fact that this very same day is 15 years, almost to the hour, of when Harrison was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Harrison at clinic in October 1999

Harrison at Clinic in October 1999

This made me dig through my files to find this entry that was on thelamberts.org when it was up-and-running. It’s the notes I kept for a short period of time when Harrison was first diagnosed. Some day I hope to resurrect thelamberts.org but for now this entry is fitting to share as we celebrate Harrison’s winning his battle with cancer and almost completing his first year of college. My little buddy is a true blessing.


Today is July 24, 2001. I recently came across some notes I took back around the time Harrison was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. I’m glad I did as some of the details in my mind have been lost with the passing of time. After reading this I’m surprised at how coherent it is. It also is interesting that it is rather emotionless as I know we were lost in emotions for a long time after his diagnosis. I wish I had kept up this journal the whole time. It wasn’t until I started this website that I resumed tracking more of the events in this life dramaevents in this life drama.

April 16, 1997 pm, Wednesday

Get home from work and notice during our dinner with Scott & Julie, or next door neighbors, that Harrison looks a bit jaundiced and pale.  Gin and I feel he is maybe coming down with something or just tired from all of the recent chaos with the death of Gin’s father on the day before Easter.

April 17, 1997, Thursday

Harrison still looks pale.  Gin calls and makes an appointment with Dr. Wikler for 2:40 on Friday, 4/18.

April 18, 1997 2:40pm, Friday

Harrison has his appointment with Dr. Wikler. She decides she wants to do some blood work. They take a lot of blood.  I run it over to the lab personally and we wait for the results (Harrison and I walk to the store for some snacks). Dr. Wikler speaks with us and prepares us for the possibility that our little Harrison may have Leukemia. Symptoms include increased bruising, enlarged spleen, swollen lymph nodes, low blood counts and his recent state of being more tired.

We are told to go straight to Kaiser Oakland where we are immediately admitted. They take their own set of blood tests. We are told that it is looking pretty much as though he does have Leukemia.  He is given a Platelet transfusion and a Hemoglobin transfusion due to his low blood counts.

April 19, 1997 am, Saturday

Early in the morning Harrison has a bone marrow aspiration (BMBM) performed by Dr. Kronish.  He also performs a spinal tap (LPLP) and administers MethotrexateMethotrexate. The doctor runs the sample over to the lab in Berkeley. Dr. Kronish confirms that Harrison does have Leukemia. Later that day the lab informs us that it is Acute Lymphocytic LeukemiaAcute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), the more common and treatable of the childhood Leukemias.  We will have to wait some time to determine if it is a chromosomal defect as well as the result of some other tests.

Dr. Wikler pays Harrison a visit and brings a present, a book, The Velveteen Rabbit.  It was extremely special that she did this as it definitely is outside any expectation we would ever have had. I think she also was quite upset with the events befallen Harrison.

April 20, 1997, Sunday

Harrison starts his chemotherapy with an IV injection of VincristineVincristine and oral PrednisonePrednisone tablets.

April 21, 1997, Monday

Harrison gets his first L-AsparaginseL-Asparaginse inter-muscular (IM) shot.  In the afternoon we are discharged.

General Hospital Comments:  Everyone was very nice to Harrison and us.  He received many stickers and toys for the good job he did with all that was going on.  It was a very tough time for all of us.  Mom watched Madison during the weekend.  Julie watched Madison on Monday.  Harrison did not like the blood pressure tests (hugs), preferring them to be on his leg.  Toward the end of our hospital stay he was doing better.  He tolerates the “pokes” pretty well but really dislikes the removal of any tape from bandages.

April 22, 1997, Tuesday

Harrison starts his home chemo of Prednisone three times a day, PeridexPeridex (swish and spit) three times a day and Septra two times a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We also test his urine every morning for blood sugar levels.

Things were going okay until dinner.  Harrison got sick and dumped his dinner in two stages. His temperature went up to over 101.5, our point of real concern, and became very pale.  We put him to bed.

April 23, 1997, Wednesday

Shortly after 6am Cece takes Madison for the day and we take Harrison into Oakland Kaiser emergency.  They stick him twice in the hand to get blood.  There ended up being a problem with the samples taken. They then stick a heplock in his foot but were still unable to get blood.  So, they did a finger stick in the thumb.  The heplock was removed before we went over to the pediatric oncology clinic for his L-Asparaginse injection.

The clinic put an IV into Harrison’s arm to give him a platelet transfusion.  Harrison then ends up having a slight allergic reaction to the transfusion, one hive that Gin notices on his eyelid and I point out to the nurse.  He is given benedryl and cortisone to reverse the reaction. He then is given his L-Asparaginse injection and we get to go home as his temperature has been registering pretty much normal the whole time. Harrison has received six pokes today.

April 24, 1997, Thursday

Fairly uneventful day.  Harrison takes his medicine.  He is still fighting doing the swish and spit. He does run a temperature later in the day. Dr. Month said to monitor it and that many times a patient needs to adjust to the chemo. Some other adjustments also may be needed. The fever breaks and is pretty much normal the rest of the day.

At 5:45 Harrison has blood drawn at the Kaiser Hayward lab for a CBCCBC for the operation on 4/25.

April 25, 1997, Friday

We take Harrison to Kaiser San Francisco. Linda McDonald, a neighbor, watches Madison in the morning and Yolanda and Mark watch her in the early evening.

First we visit Becky and Dr. Leung in pediatric oncology and Harrison gets his L-Asparaginse shot.  He is given a new toy. We then go across the street to the hospital for his surgery.

Several interviews and paper signings are taken care of. They give Harrison a drink of something which makes him ‘drunk’ and starts the sedation process.  He is now slurring his words and rather out of it.  I am allowed to put on scrubs to take Harrison into the OR. I then must leave.

We count every minute as the procedure runs a little later than they told us. The surgery goes without a hitch and we take him home. Again everyone is terrific.  Harrison eats two popsicles in recovery along with some water and graham crackers.

We get home. Harrison is doing fine.  He is quite hungry.  We have pizza for the third day in a row and the second night picnicking on the family room floor.


About the author
 Entrepreneur Jeff Lambert is the President and founder of JVHM, Inc., a software development business located in the San Francisco Bay Area but serving clients around the globe. Jeff's expertise includes website design and development, Facebook development, blogging integration, SEO, video production, CRM systems, database design and development and more. In his "spare" time Jeff likes to hang out with his family, run, play tennis and, until recently, was Scoutmaster with a local Boy Scout troop.


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