Well we've finally reached Maintenance - the phase of treatment that begins once remission has been achieved, and continues for 3 years. It truly is a joyous, exciting milestone, after the last 11 months of grueling Induction and Consolidation phases - one we almost thought we wouldn't attain at certain points along the way.
However it's somewhat deceptive to expect that everything's a walk in the park from here on... Ned is not completely cured yet. Remission means that he's responded to the high-risk treatment thus far, and accordingly, there are no leukaemia cells currently in his body. However he needs 3 more years of regular chemo to hopefully maintain that status and be "cured"... and then the follow-up checks for years thereafter to keep vigil for the inevitable long-term health consequences of all the chemotherapy agents.
So far, he's been on steroids for his first week of maintenance (which was kicked off by another general anaesthetic (GA) on Seth's birthday), also coinciding with a respiratory tract infection for Eleanor, report-writing and exam-marking for Seth, and end-of-term exhaustion for Lucy... all of which have somewhat dampened the joy of reaching this milestone.
We were fortunate enough to participate in our first Camp Quality weekend just a few days ago... A weekend with art activities for the kids, some swimming, a maze, mini-golf (always interesting with kids!), dressing up for Ye Olde photos, and a movie - a wonderfully enjoyable and memorable time for our kids, and, although any rest was impeded by steroid meltdowns and very broken nights, it was a much-needed change of scenery and routine for Seth and me. We were so pleasantly surprised at how caring, helpful and generous the CQ staff and volunteers were - we'd never fully appreciated just how well Camp Quality looks after cancer families prior to our last year.
So what does this new stage and regime entail for Ned? Well, whilst he'll still have daily chemo, still be occasionally inmunosuppressed, have regular hospital visits, and routine GAs, the intensity of chemo and frequency of these appointments are reduced. It's a new, less rigorous phase of our lives, but it's not without its trepidation or apprehensiveness. My broken sleep at night is largely child-induced, but thanks to my pessimism and resulting nervousness after the first dreadful 6 months of this journey, I have anxious misgivings about what lies ahead for us, and most especially, for our darling, sweet Ned. Please keep us in your prayers - may there be no relapse, and may we rest in the knowledge that it's in God's hands if there is.