Sunday Slowdown, Unwelcome Randomness Edition: #cancersucks

Some of you already know this, but if you hadn’t yet heard, we got good news on my husband Paul’s biopsies–both were negative. He is cancer-free.

But the bullet that he dodged hit someone else, and he told me he’d much rather have taken it himself. I believe it. Many parents would say the same.

This past Thursday, my 20-year-old stepdaughter Kate was admitted to our local hospital. Routine lab tests at a doctor’s appointment the day before showed she was very anemic, and her blood-cell counts were abnormal. The hospital did more tests on her blood and bone marrow, and we had a diagnosis on Friday morning.

Kate has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), and begins a 30-day in-patient chemotherapy treatment program this weekend. We’re fortunate that she could be moved quickly to City of Hope–they’re one of the nation’s best cancer hospitals, right here in Southern California. That’s hopeful (no pun intended), and so is the high recovery rate from ALL.

I have no PSA to share this time. Leukemia is a blood cancer, and there are no obvious precautions or preventions to take against it. There are some risk factors, but Kate doesn’t have most of them. But she is young, the diagnosis was prompt, and the prognosis is encouraging.

Since Kate will be hospitalized for a while, it’s not so clear to us yet what the family’s roles are, but her mom and dad will be with her as much as they can. As one of her stepparents, I see myself as the backup team–support for the caregivers, especially her dad, as visitors are being limited to immediate (biological) family for the time being.

Here’s what Paul shared on his social-media channels:

Kate, Christmas 2013, photo by her dad Paul

This beautiful young woman is my daughter. Today, it was discovered that she has Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). She will undergo 30 days of Chemotherapy (she will lose her hair and immunity system). ALL has around an 80% cure rate.She is one of the strongest people I have ever known. Here’s hoping she is strong enough to win.

And here’s what my son Chris added when he shared the news about his stepsister on Facebook:

The recovery rate is less than 100%, which fucking blows. If you pray or hope or dream or ….shit, I don’t really care, I don’t really know. She’s 20. What the hell, cancer. Don’t you fucking know better? Knock it off.

The Sunday Slowdown on The 3 Rs BlogI think he speaks for the entire family, profanity and all.

This blog is turning into the Family Health Report, which is not the kind of “randomness” I usually intend to bring you here…but it’s also a chronicle of life events, and my life is far more than just my reading. (Which I’m still doing, by the way–it’s a welcome distraction right now–but the blogging slowdown I mentioned last week remains in effect.)


The Weekly Winchester will return next week in its usual location.

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24 comments

  1. I am so, so sorry, Florinda. Truly. Please know that I will be keeping Kate and your whole family in my prayers. It is encouraging that the cure rate is 80%. She is lovely girl and I'm sure that she will be encouraged by all the support and love that will be flowing toward her, even if everyone can't see her face to face. Please take care and know that good thoughts and feelings flow west from Texas to California. 🙂

  2. I am so sorry, Florinda. That really, really sucks. I don't know if it will help you or your family but my father-in-law is a 20-year survivor of ALL, and he was much older, weaker and in poor health when he was first diagnosed. If he can make it, your stepdaughter definitely has great odds. You and yours are in my thoughts.

  3. I'm so sorry, Florinda. I've lost several family members to cancer and my bf has a mesothelioma-type lung disease so I understand the shock and pain and fear. But I cannot even imagine what it must be like to have a child/step-child diagnosed. My heart is with you and Paul and Kate. I'm pulling for her.