I have organized the book sequentially in an attempt to parallel most families' journeys through treatment. We all start with diagnosis, learn about leukemia, try to cope with procedures, adjust to medical personnel, and deal with family and friends. We all seek out various methods of support and struggle with the strong feelings of our child with cancer and our other children. We try to work with our child's school to provide the richest and most appropriate education for our ill child. And, unfortunately, we must grieve, either for our child or for the child of a close friend we have made in our new community of cancer.
Because it is tremendously hard to focus on learning new things when you are emotionally battered and extremely tired, I have tried to keep each chapter short.
The first time I introduce a medical term, I define it in the text. If you do not read the book sequentially and encounter an undefined term, it will be explained in the glossary at the end of the book.
Since half of the children diagnosed with leukemia are boys, and half girls, I did not adopt the common convention of using only masculine personal pronouns. Because I do not like using he/she, I have alternated personal pronouns within chapters. This may seem awkward as you read, but it prevents half of the parents from feeling that the text does not apply to their child.
All of the medical information contained in this book is current for 2002. As treatment is constantly evolving and improving, there will inevitably be changes. However, most of the medicines now in use have been used for many years. Their use in combination and changes in dosages have accounted for the tremendous increase in treatment effectiveness in the last two decades. Scientists are currently studying some new agents, however, that may dramatically improve treatment for leukemia. You will learn in this book how to discover the newest and most appropriate treatment for your child.
To meet some of the children you will read about in this book, and to give you more places to find help for your cancer journey, I have included four appendixes for reference: a photo gallery of children during and after treatment, blood counts and what they mean, resource organizations, and books and online sites. In addition, bound in the book is an indispensable health record to be filled out at the end of treatment and copied and given to each subsequent caregiver for the rest of your child's life. This personal long-term follow-up guide educates healthcare providers about the types of treatment given and the follow-up schedule necessary to maintain optimum health.
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Although nobody gets a parenting manual or bible in the delivery room, it is our duty as parents to try to make our kids as well rounded, happy and confident as possible. It is a lot easier to bring up great kids than it is to try and fix problems caused by bad parenting, when our kids have become adults. Our children are all individuals - they are not our property but people in their own right.