Bianca White lives in New Zealand with her Mom and Dad, Terence and Lea, and her sister Caitlyn. She would like you to keep her and her Mommy and Daddy and sister in your thoughts, good wishes and prayers. This is Bianca’s situation:
Bianca was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.) at the beginning of June 2007, only two weeks before turning 4 years old. She will continue to receive treatment until September 2009 and then it will become a “wait-and-see” situation for at least the next 4 – 5 years while she’s off her treatment.
During the first year off treatment Bianca will face the highest risk of relapse and only once she reaches 4 or 5 years off treatment will she be referred to as being “cured”, but only because the risk of relapse will be significantly less.
Her story over the past 2 years is as follows:
- 113 days in hospital as inpatient due to various infections (one of these stays was for 34 days, in isolation and on oxygen);
- More than 30 blood product transfusions and counting (currently getting a blood product transfusion, IVIG, every single month)
- Shingles in her face
- Kidney Stones – A severe reaction to one of the chemo drugs. This means that she cannot get this drug ever again and the next time she needed this drug she had to get a different type consisting of 6 injections into her legs, one every second day.
- A broncospasm that required immediate medical attention
As at January 2009 the status is as follows (she is little behind in counting her beads of courage – she strings a bead for every single procedure, treatment or hospital admission):
Figure 1 Every single bead represents a procedure, treatment or admission that Bianca underwent
- 446 days of chemotherapy (some intravenous and some orally)
- 112 finger pricks, port accesses, injections
- 113 days in hospital of which 88 days were in isolation / being neutropenic
- 72 different tests including Echo, X-Rays, CT Scan and many others
- 1 surgery to insert a port underneath her skin
- 3 hair losses (twice complete and once thinning significantly)
- 4 bone marrow aspirates
- 16 lumbar punctures with chemo injected into her spine
- 15 dressing changes
- 33 clinic visits
- 39 blood product transfusions
- 4 NG tubes inserted through her nose, down her throat and into her tummy to help with feeding
- 19 days of IV antibiotics (probably more, but her parents lost count at some point, so they simply guessed this)
- 32 unusual things such as being on oxygen, and so on.
To date Bianca has been on approximately 121 days of steroids; these drugs cause mood swings, increased appetite, cravings, sadness, depression, tiredness, can affect the way kids sleep and can even cause temper tantrums. At the age of 4 she learned to swallow tablets!
Despite all of this, Bianca has always coped so well. She lives for the moment and her parents us to enjoy the little things in life, to slow down. She is their hero and their inspiration! They don’t know what the future holds, but they are hope for the best, but only time will tell if the treatment was successful, and whether there were any long term effects such as learning difficulties, heart problems or even infertility. But Lea and Terence have faith that whatever the future holds they will be ready and strong enough to walk that road. Their motto is that they can’t choose what happens in life, but they can choose how to handle it!
Bianca, Lea and Terence White
Figure 2 Having fun