Alese Coco's Journey through Hodgkins Disease

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I’m Out…. Finally!

I went to City of Hope to begin the process of having my stem cells harvested and I wound up having a seven day sleep over and it was not fun...

The headaches are gone, fever gone, nausea gone, twitches gone and I’m pain free, if I could just be cured from this Lymphoma, life would be really, really good.

First, thank you to everyone for your prayers, e-mails, guestbook entries, cards, stuffed animals and many who came to visit. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support. By any standards, this is not an easy road; and honestly, you have no idea how much your support has touched my life.

My hair started falling out last Thursday and with the help of my Dad and Cousin Aaron I shaved all the hair off my head. In turn, I shaved all the hair off my Dad’s head and when I arrived home from the hospital Sunday afternoon; my brother Mark (11) had already done the same. Several of my friends have joined in and I’ve taken pictures and I’ll post them in the next few days.

I had an appointment yesterday with Dr. Popplewell and she wants to wait until March 14th to install another Hickman and will not give me another round of Cytoxan until the Hickman is installed.

Right now, I feel good, the itching has been gone for the past eight days, what a relief that has been and although I experienced a little last night, but overall it feels good to feel good and I’m grateful for these days.

I’m taking one day at a time, one procedure at time; anything else is just too overwhelming.

I feel the hand of God on my life, and I believe all the wonderful things that have happened to me this past week have been from all the prayers.


Fighting 2 Win,

-Alese

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Long Week…

This has been a long week for all of us, especially Alese. She’s an amazing woman.

We want to thank you all for your continued prayers for Alese and our family, this is a serious infection and treating this ailment is ongoing. However, through all this some great things have happened and praise worthy that I want to share:

She had the Hickman removed Tuesday night under local anesthetic, she experienced no pain, zero.

She was supposed to have a spinal tap; however the Neurologist changed his mind yesterday and felt it would not be necessary. Alese had one of these years ago and it was a horrible experience. This was one of Alese's answered prayers.

Since her last stem cell transplant in 2002, her blood pressure dropped from normal averages to 95 over 55, this is low for an adult and doctors told us this was caused by the high dose chemotherapy she received. For some reason that doctors cannot explain her resting blood pressure is now back to normal 118 over 75. This just happened Wednesday. Amazing!

She is alert and is aware of all her surroundings, the blank stare she had over the last couple of days are gone.

‘Father, thank you for spearing Alese this pain and hearing the prayers of those so faithful to your calling, we praise you for all you have done and all you are going to do, thank you Lord.’

As we celebrate these incremental successes, we ask you to continue praying for Alese for the following issues. First, this horrible headache that she’s had for weeks will go away and the small twitches that began Sunday that she experiences during waking and sleeping hours will cease. Also, in coming weeks, she’ll begin the aggressive and painful process of high dose chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant to resolve this lymphoma. Please pray for strength, peace, perseverance and cure.

This week, people from all over the world and all walks of life have to come to her website. We’ve read her all the guestbook entries and e-mails that have been sent, she feels your prayers, love and support; it’s given her strength and renewed her hope. Thank you.

We want to thank you for your continued prayers for Alese and our family. We could not get through this without our family and unbelievable friends…Thank you.

We’ll update this site as information becomes available.

The Coco’s

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Infection...

Alese has a fairly serious infection that originated in the Hickman catheter that was installed two weeks ago.

Surgeons are removing the catheter sometime this evening. They've given her 24 units of platelets throughout the day with the intention of getting her platelets above 100,000, but they've stalled at 80,000 and she's receiving additional platelets as of this posting. Unfortunately, they will have to do this procedure under local anesthetic.

For now, the goal is to eradicate this infection from her body, which has taken precedence over treatment. Alese will remain at City of Hope for at least 7 days, or until the infection is gone. Until then, the plan of collecting any stem cells is postponed.

Thereafter, another Hickman will be installed and she'll receive another round of Cytoxan, followed by 10 days of Neupogen and attempt to collect stem cells again.

The only good news in this whole scenario is the first round of Cytoxan has helped curb some of the intense itching she's been experiencing; hopefully, it’s shrinking cancerous lymph nodes too.

We appreciate your continued prayers,

The Coco's

Monday, February 19, 2007

Urgent Request For Prayer…

Alese is in the hospital right now with a serious unspecified ailment that does not appear to be HD related.

Early this morning she began displaying unusual behavior. When we’d talk to her, she was not always responsive to our questions and at moments it was though she was looking right through us. She also has little memory of yesterday.

She’s had a number of tests today including a MRI of her brain, initially, the Neurologist thought she had bleeding on the brain because her platelets were only 13000, but the MRI results came back this evening and did not reveal any bleeding.

They also did an E.E.G. that monitors brain activity and it did reveal abnormal activity. She’s been admitted to City of Hope and they will conduct additional tests tomorrow. We'll post information as it becomes available.

We request your prayers,

The Coco’s

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Surgery Day

DarkHair
I dyed my hair today. (7 February 2007)

Surgery Day…

I’m at City of Hope they installed a Hickman catheter this morning…

With my Mom in tow, I left home this morning at 5:30 and they began the operation at 8:30. It supposed be a 30 minute procedure, but the thing wouldn’t work after they installed it, so, they brought in some technical people to look at it, two hours later, success!

Late tonight, I’m going to be infused with chemotherapy called Cytoxan, its part of the conditioning therapy, but it will also stimulate my stem cells to multiply which they plan to harvest sometime next week.

Sometime within the next fifteen days, I’m going to lose my all my hair. So, I was trying to figure out a way to soften the loss and I decided the best way to lose my hair if I didn’t like it, so, I dyed it brunette. I’m thinking if it looks horrible, losing my hair would not bother me as much. I posted a picture above.

Fight 2 Win

-Alese

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Month, New Challenges, Happy February…

I was going to post an update sooner, but my stress level has been at 10 and my thoughts have been all over the place...

I've gone through a two week period in which I really questioned going through this whole process again. In in all honesty, I did not know if I wanted to put myself through this again. The simplist analogy I can think of is if you've never had a root canal there would be a certain amount of fear of the unknown, because you don’t know what to expect. Now take and multiply that fear factor by 10 and you have the inner feelings of going through a stem cell transplant. Then, muliply the pain difference from a root canal to stem tranplant by a factor of 50 and you understand how I've felt. I've been through this process; I know what's coming... However, my focus is back in place and its Fight 2 Win, period, end of paragraph.

I went to City of Hope for a battery of tests on Monday; pulmonary test, kidney function test, echocardiogram and a CT scan, the pulmonary test levels are below normal due to disease in my chest and the scan reported some minor growth over the last month. I’m off Valproic Acid and the two other drugs that were part of the cocktail. I'm just taking some pain meds right now to curtail the side affects of HD.

They’re putting a port in on Monday and will start harvesting stem cells early next week…Late next week, I’m going to start MOPP as conditioning therapy. I should say MOP because I’m not going to take Prednisone as part of the regimen in high dose. I'm not sure how many rounds I'm going to have.

Hopefully, this will eridicate the HD from my body quickly and I won't have to endure too many rounds. Thereafter, I'll be admitted into the hosiptal for 5 days of high dose chemotherapy followed by the stem cell transplant. I'll be in the hospital for a 20 - 40 day stay, pending how fast my numbers come back to acceptable levels.

I need your prayers.

Fighting 2 Win,

-Alese