May 22, 2015.
Another one of those dates that I'll never forget.
Seven months from BJ's journey end date. Seven months. The cancer is back. We're all just completely devastated. It was his monthly chemo/doctor exam day, and it started like it always did. Port accessed, blood drawn for labs, and some saline before the vincristine infusion. Dr. Kaplan came in and did his exam, and BJ looked good. When the blood work came back, Dr. Kaplan saw some irregular cells, and at first he thought that maybe he had mono. BJ had been sick that week with a pretty bad upper respiratory type of virus. He never had a fever, but he felt bad enough that it kept him in bed over the weekend, and out of school for three days.
We left the clinic that day waiting on a phone call from Dr. Kaplan to let us know if BJ had mono, or if those cells were leukemia. We picked up Carly from school early, and went to get both her and BJ's hair cut. We were on the way home when the phone call came in. Carly didn't know that we were waiting on news because BJ didn't want her to worry. I answered the phone, and it was Dr. Kaplan. He said, Michelle, it's leukemia. I just slumped in the seat. I know I responded to him, but I couldn't even think. I felt weak. I felt like someone had stolen my breath. BJ saw my reaction and he started screaming "NO!", "NO!"....wringing his head in his hands, punching the car seat between his knees, and more "NO!...."WHY!!??"... Carly started crying and wailing. My heart was just torn to pieces with the news, BJ's reaction, and Carly's cry out in pain from seeing her brother's raw emotion. It's just too much. We've done this all before, and it was a shock then, but this time was different. It was worse. The shock was more devastating, more of a knock down punch that came out of nowhere. We'd dealt with the news of leukemia once. Everything was going great. He was doing great. He was healthy. Hell, two weeks prior, he RAN a 5K in 29:01, and then played an entire basketball game a couple of hours later. He was strong. We were making plans - he was looking forward to getting his port removed, and going on his make-a-wish trip. I was beginning to plan a huge party to celebrate his 15th birthday and the end of his cancer journey. There was no inkling of a relapse...it crept up in his body, so slyly, and unbeknownst to BJ, or anyone else, it began to multiply in his bone marrow until it spilled out into his peripheral blood where it was finally noticed.
Since BJ relapsed within 36 months of his first diagnosis, 32 months to be exact, he's considered an early relapse. The protocol now is to do 3 induction phases to prepare his body for a bone marrow transplant.