Robbie’s Battle Continues

Robbie’s leukemia has returned.

With those four words our lives were turned upside down all over again. On Saturday, we were all excited that his counts were finally perking up and that he could finally begin to look forward to going home soon.

On Sunday, though, once we arrived at the hospital, the on call oncologists came to deliver the crushing news. Recurrence has been on my mind for some time, especially after seeing a documentary on teens with leukemia and closer to home, the return of the cancer that took the life of Denise Dougiello last week.

In Robbie’s case there was about a 50% chance of recurrence but even they were surprised at the speed with which it returned. As usual, there are no clear cut answers as to why.

The news arrived almost to the minute 25 weeks after receiving the initial diagnosis and almost on cue, he began to suffer. We spent Sunday in a daze, absorbing the news, asking questions and doing lots of hugging. Robbie spiked a fever that wouldn’t quit and having very low blood pressure. The day was spent comforting him and trying to respect his desire to avoid the ICU. Both nurses and doctors worked to honor that request but in the end, he wound up back in the ICU for blood pressure medication. It lasted less than a day and he went right back to 7-West.

We’ve been here long enough that we’ve gotten to know just about everyone on both sides of the floor and as the news spread, the disappointment and concern in their eyes spoke volumes. Dr. Massaro came in from her day off to spend time with us and she looked defeated and was largely quiet.

We began spreading the news to friends and family, rearranging plans. It took some convincing to keep Kate in Maryland to start work rather than come back to Connecticut to sit in a hospital room. I’m still going to Shore Leave and likely San Diego but everything else is questionable.

As Robbie put it, we’re back to one day at a time. The oncology team is putting together a new plan and this time it will include the need for a bone marrow transplant. But first, they have to put him back into remission. The first step is taken tomorrow as he goes for a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture. This week the hunt begins for a bone marrow match.

Speaking of which, Shore Leave is conducting a bone marrow drive to add people to the registry. While people in our immediate area can help in some ways, everyone can register. Robbie just needs one match but every cancer patient can benefit and the process is relatively painless and easy. Those wishing to potentially help Robbie and other people in need, please check out the National Marrow Donor Program.

Sadly, I’ll be back to the weekly updates on Saturdays.

15 comments

  • Janna Silverstein

    Thinking of you and the whole family, Bob.

  • Steve Roby

    Damn. Sorry to hear that, but hoping for the best.

  • Bob,

    I told Dave Mack I’m in for the drive but I haven’t heard anything. Do you happen to know when during the con it will take place and do I need to do anything, like avoid alcohol, before the test?

  • We’re really sorry to hear that, Bob. Do let him know we continue to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Terri Osborne

    Bob, I have a call in to my doctor to see if I’m approved for bone marrow donation. Blood donation is off-limits, but I don’t know if there’s a difference.

    I’ll let you know. Please give everyone a hug for me, and I’ll see you on Friday.

  • Massively big hugs all the way around. That sucks, I’m sorry.

  • Tom Galloway

    Good luck.

  • kathy spencer

    I have kept up to date from the beginning on Robbie’s progress. All of you have been in my thoughts and prayers and will continue to be. I know about the national donor registry, however will there be a local drive to find a match? Please let me know. Keep hope and be positive. My prayers are with all of you.

  • Sorry to read this latest, Bob, but still hoping for the best for Robbie and the rest of you…

  • Wow, I’m sorry to hear about this.

    This spring, my mom’s cancer came back as well. It started in her breast, but this time it was in her lung. I understand the horrors of this disease, and completely empathize with you.

    A child from my school fought leukemia for two years before he finally succumbed to the disease. His family still mourns this, and his sister was in my class this year. I’m going to pray that his outcome will surpass all that have come before.

    Again, my prayers will be with Robbie.

  • Very sorry to hear about this. Having gone through this roller coaster with my mom, whose cancer came back after five years, I completely understand. My prayers will be with Robbie.

  • Laurel Lee wrote “Walking Through the Fire” at age 29 about being diagnosed with stage four Hodgkins when she was pregnant with her third child. They treated it, it came back fast, they tried again. Her third child was 29 when cancer finally took her mom. There was a lot of living in between, and Robbie’s got a lot of living ahead of him too.

  • Tim Lynch

    Oh, I’m terribly sorry to hear that, Bob. All my hopes…

    TWL

  • Paul Balze

    Ah, Jesus, Bob. I’m so sorry to hear that. And things were looking so positive, too.
    I won’t be at Shore Leave as I have another thing going on in Pennsylvania, but I’ll be thinking of all of you.

  • Jerri

    Lurker here who’s been praying for your family all along… and will continue to pray that God’s strength and comfort are with you.