www.whyville.net Mar 8, 2009 Weekly Issue

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The Voice of Cancer: Part 5

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The day finally came when the test results were back, and they were called in to the doctor's office yet again. This time they were asked to come as a family. They all knew that this visit would be their fate, and that it was not good.

Dr. Hartwell brought them into a special office with just a desk and a few chairs. They all took a seat as he looked through some papers at her test results.

"I'm afraid we have some bad news," he said, trying to prepare them for what was to come.

When the family was silent he went on, "Devon has . . . Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, or ALL."

The family still did not speak, but the parents' eyes filled with tears. Devon was confused, all she had heard was Leukemia.

"Wh- wh- what does that mean?" she asked, whimpering.

"ALL is the type of leukemia most commonly found in children. A single cell in your blood had a genetic change which caused it to become a cancer cell. That cell duplicates and spreads as far as it can. ALL progresses rapidly without treatment, so we need to start working on making you better right away."

There was only one thing Devon needed to know, "Am I gonna be okay?"

Dr. Hartwell looked at this child's worried face and could not lie to her, "We don't know that for sure, but the odds look good. We've caught it in time, and most children with ALL are cured after treatment."

Her parents were still in shock but Devon seemed to be taking in the news with optimism. Finally her father spoke, "What are our options for the treatment?"

"She will need to start chemotherapy right away in order to get rid of the disease. We need to clear her body of the ALL cells and get her blood count back to normal. With chemo, she is likely to be cured. Of course there are some risks and side effects that go along with the chemo, including . . ."

"Whatever we need to do to get rid of this leukemia, we will do." Devon's mother interrupted.

"I understand that, and that is the reaction I get from most patients. However, I still need to discuss with you what Devon will be going through during her treatment. Chemotherapy can lower her cell count in the blood and depending on which type of blood cell may lower, there are different risks. With less white cells she could develop an infection, but one which could easily be treated with antibiotics. With less red cells . . ."

The doctor went on and on as Devon tried to keep focus. She couldn't hear anything but the horrible things that were going to happen to her. She was going to have to take so many medicines she had lost count, and the side effects of all of these didn't sound pleasant. The worst thing she heard was that she was probably going to lose her hair. Her long blonde hair would soon turn into bald head; and she sighed as she accepted the fact that she wouldn't be pretty anymore.

Dr. Hartwell gave them the name of a special cancer doctor who would help Devon get better. Her chemotherapy would start the next day and she would have to spend a lot of time in the hospital. Devon tried to stay happy and brave, until she realized what she would be giving up. She wouldn't be able to dance. Instead she would be in the hospital, going through treatments and losing her hair.


Devon sat in a hospital bed reading a book her mom had picked up at the library. She sighed as she flipped through the pages. She had already read over ten books and what seemed like millions of magazines. She had filled up coloring book after coloring book and played countless games of Chinese Checkers. She was bored. She had the occasional visitor of an aunt or uncle, but none of the girls from her school had shown up.

She had gotten weaker, skinnier, and paler, she hated to look at herself anymore. She looked like she was losing the struggle. She felt like it too. She was poked with needles and hooked up to an IV that dripped medicines into her body that was supposed to be helping her, but instead seemed to be making her sick.

She spent nights awake in the bathroom puking her guts out and days being fed foods that she would just puke up later that night.

The side effects of the chemotherapy she was receiving seemed to be breaking her down more than I was. The doctors had given her a long list of possible side effects and she had counted them more than once. There were 199 on the list, and she would cross them out as she got them.

It was almost cute if you ask me. Counting her side effects. Most of the kids I've destroyed just complained about them. But this one, she wasn't much of a complainer. She usually pretended the pain I was causing her was nonexistent and tried to continue on being the bright child that she was.

She enjoyed making my job hard.


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