Well, it has been a week since my last update, and a lot has happened since then!


Ashley started her cancer treatments last Thursday, April 3. We went to Children's Medical Center in Dallas at 9:30 that morning for her first Vincristine injection (chemotherapy). After that, we went to St. Paul Hospital for her first radiation treatment. She did fine through both treatments.


After radiation, we drove across Dallas to a place that specializes in wigs for cancer patients. Ashley tried on several wigs and picked out one that she liked. It is very similar in color and length to her own hair (unlike the blue wig promised to her by her uncle Mark!). Then we started for home.


At about 1:30 PM, while traveling down North Central Expressway in Dallas (often referred to as the largest parking lot in Texas), Ashley suddenly began to feel nauseated. Fortunately, we had brought a "throw-up bucket" with us. Ashley began vomitting, and vomitted all the way home.

We arrived home and got her in the house and situated on the couch. She continued vomitting. By the time it was over, she had vomitted almost continuously for about two hours. We called Children's and spoke to one of Ashley's nurses and explained what was going on. She called in a prescription to our pharmacy for some phenergan suppositories. Phenergan is a very effective anti-nausea medicine, especially in suppository form, since any medicine given orally to a child who is vomitting will likely be thrown right back up before it has a chance to take effect. I rushed to the pharmacy, picked up the medicine, came back home and administered the medicine to Ashley. The phenergan calmed Ashley's nausea and put an end to the vomitting, allowing Ashley to rest (finally). She slept for a couple of hours, then woke up feeling hungry and ate some supper. She slept well Thursday night. We woke her up and gave her another phenergan suppository about 1:00 AM, just to make sure the nausea and vomitting didn't return during the night.


Friday morning we woke up, gave Ashley an oral dose of phenergan elixir, then headed to St. Paul for her second radiation treatment, hoping the after-effects would not be a repeat of the day before. Ashley was difficult to awaken, and then she slept in the car all the way to the hospital. This didn't really surprise us since she had experienced such a rough day on Thursday. Plus, phenergan tends to make you drowsy, and she had been given 3 doses within the last 12 or so hours.

We arrived at St. Paul early and took Ashley inside. She continued to sleep until the nurse came out into the waiting room to get us. Susan and I both followed Ashley and the nurse into the treatment room to help get Ashley ready for her treatment. While the nurse was helping Ashley get up onto the radiation table, Ashley bent over at the waist and fell forward onto the table. Thinking she was just really tired and wanted to lie down, I leaned over to ask her if that was the case. She responded in a very sleepy voice. As the nurse was helping Ashley stand back up, Ashley passed out in her arms. Obviously, there was something more going on here than just Ashley being tired. We quickly found a sheet, spread it out on the floor, and laid Ashley down. The nurse called for assistance.

Ashley was only "out" for a few seconds before waking up. She slowly began to regain her strength. The radiation oncologist called off her treatment for that day, and sent us back over to Children's. They did a CT scan to see if there were any fluid collections, blockages, or pressure build-up in Ashley's brain. The scan came back showing none of these problems, for which we were very thankful. The doctors then considered the possibility that Ashley had experienced a seizure, but quickly ruled out that as well. The best they could figure, Ashley was still weak from Thursday's vomitting spell, and had not replenished her fluids back to adequate levels. Added to that were the effects of the phenergan making her sleepy (and consequently weak), and it was just too much for her little body to deal with, causing her to faint. After spending most of the day at Children's, we headed back home to Waxahachie.


We had a pretty good weekend. Ashley complained several times about her tummy hurting, but did not experience any nausea or vomitting on Saturday or Sunday. She went to church with us Sunday morning and evening, and then we stayed for a church fellowship after the evening worship service.


Monday morning, we made the trek back to St. Paul to try once again. This time we were prepared with phenergan elixir to give Ashley prior to her radiation treatment, in order to minimize the nausea and vomitting that might result from the treatment. We gave Ashley the phenergan in the car as we drove to the hospital. Three minutes after she swallowed it, she threw up, so I doubt that any of the phenergan was retained in her system. We proceeded on to St. Paul and Ashley received her second radiation treatment.

After the treatment, we stopped back by Children's to visit with the nurses and ask some questions. While we were waiting to see the nurses, Ashley began feeling nauseated, and started throwing up again. Once again, the vomitting spell lasted for about two hours before it subsided. It was horrible. There was nothing we could do but sit by and stroke her forehead as we watched her little body wretch in agony. I guess the good thing about this attack was that it happened at the hospital, so the doctors and nurses saw exactly what was happening.

When it became obvious that the vomitting was not going to stop, we were put in a room and Ashley was given a couple of medicines by injection. She was then put on IV fluids to re-hydrate her, and was given another medicine or two through the IV. The doctor decided to admit Ashley to the hospital so that: 1) she could be monitored overnight, 2) she could continue receiving IV fluids to rebuild her strength, and 3) she could continue receiving several anti-nausea and antacid medicines to prepare her little tummy for Tuesday's radiation treatment (it was determined that the two vomitting spells were in reaction to the radiation).


The medications that were given to Ashley through her IV to help with her stomach problems were:

  • Zantac, an antacid.

  • Phenergan, an anti-nausea medication.

  • Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, which also helps to reduce the nausea which results from radiation.

  • Zofran, which we refer to as Ashley's "gold medicine", because it is so expensive. Zofran is a relatively new anti-nausea medication which has proven to be extremely effective with cancer patients over the past few years.


After Ashley was admitted to the hospital Monday afternoon, I came on back to Waxahachie, took Justin out to eat, and then he and I spent the night at home. (Susan and I are trying to do as much as we can to make sure Justin doesn't feel left out, and to try to maintain as much normalcy in our lives as is possible; although, come to think of it, I don't recall ever hearing the word "normal" used to describe our life!).


On Tuesday morning, I took Justin to school, came home and worked on e-mails for a little bit, then headed back to Dallas for Ashley's radiation treatment. I arrived at Children's just before Ashley was to be transported over to St. Paul for her radiation treatment. She really looked good, and Susan said that she had slept well throughout the night. She was in a good mood, and I just had a feeling that this was going to be a good day.

We went to St. Paul and Ashley had her radiation treatment without any problems. After radiation, we returned to Children's to sit for a few hours, just in case she did have another severe reaction to the radiation. We were watching her closely for any signs of an upset tummy or nausea. NOTHING! We had decided that 1:30 PM would be our benchmark, because that was when she had started vomitting after her very first radiation treatment. 1:30 came and went without any problems, so we asked to be discharged. We were given prescriptions for the medications Ashley had received through her IV, so that we could continue administering them in pill form. After all the discharge paperwork was finished, we finally left Children's sometime around 3:00 or 4:00 PM, and headed home. We now had one good day behind us, and that felt pretty good!


Wednesday and Thursday were also good days, with no upset tummy or nausea. At this point, we are confident that the medicines Ashley is now taking will keep her from having any more horrible vomitting attacks in response to her radiation treatments.


Thanks again to all of you who have expressed concern and who have been praying for Ashley.

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