by Michael Wells
Well, where to begin? Brady had his CAT scan and it appears the infection in his right lung is on the mend. The plan as of this minute is to have him admitted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) on March 8th to begin the peripheral blood stem cell transplantation process (PBSC).
The PBSC results are basically the same as a bone marrow transplant (BMT). The only difference between the two is the method used to obtain the stem cells: the stem cells used in BMT come from the liquid center of the donor’s bone, via a needle inserted into the donor’s hip bone while the PBSC stem cells come from the bloodstream via a process quite similar to giving platelets.
Before the actual PBSC process Brady will undergo 11 days of conditioning chemotherapy. The chemo will be extremely intense and once it is completed Brady will then receive my PBSC through a transfusion.
So, the good news of the day is we have our son home with us until March 8th! Sherrie and I could not be happier. I am going to leave it at that and not go into all the possible “scary stuff” associated with PBSC.
The other news is our local Newspaper the Home News wrote a very nice article regarding the recent blood drive. The following is link to Suzanne C. Russell’s article
If you have the time, I am also including a copy of the article below. Finally, Brady is far from being out of the woods fighting this horrible disease and until he is declared “cured” he will continue to need every prayer, hug and good thought you can offer him, so please continue them as it is wonderful to watch their results.
Home News – Suzanne C. Russell Article, February 25, 2010
SOUTH BRUNSWICK – When Brady Wells was born, he seemed the picture of health to his mother, Sherrie Wells. “He had no problems, no allergies,” Wells, of Kendall Park, said of her now 18-month-old son.
But shortly after starting daycare, Brady developed a cold and fever. Initially there wasn’t too much concern. But a week later, the fever still hadn’t broken. And then Brady developed an ear infection. Still, the fever didn’t break.
Then he developed a swollen eye. The pediatrician told the family to take Brady to the emergency room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. The eye cleared up, but the fever remained.
Brady spent a week at the hospital undergoing tests. One test was a bone marrow biopsy to see if Brady had leukemia. It came back positive for biphenotypic acute leukemia, a rare form of the blood cancer. Brady was just 1 year old.
“There’s no real road map to follow,” said Wells, whose son has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy and countless blood transfusions, as well as receiving blood platelets.
At Christmas time, Wells put together a wish list for Brady. The list included gifts for other children with cancer. But Wells also asked that blood drives to held to replenish the blood Brady and other children have used. When blood banks run out, shipments come from other states. She remembers one shipment came from Nebraska.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, more than 75 people participated in a blood drive held on Brady’s behalf at Jersey Physical Therapy in Kendall Park.
The Community Blood Council of New Jersey provided a portable recreational vehicle and staff. Blood donors had an opportunity to visit the bloodmobile, which has two examination rooms and six donation beds.
“Giving blood takes so little of our time and effort, but it can literally save a life,” said Marc Rubenstein, co-owner of Jersey Physical Therapy. “There are very few of our day-to-day actions we can say that about, so taking time out of our day for the blood drive is important. Having a personal connection to the family makes it that much more meaningful.”
The blood drive was the third one held on behalf of Brady. About 150 pints of blood have been collected.
“It means so much,” Wells said. “People have come out of the woodwork. It’s very impressive how wonderful people are out there.”
In addition to the blood drive, a “Hugs for Brady Fund” was established by Mike and Sherrie Wells to help the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital fight the ongoing battle against pediatric cancer. The fund will be working in cooperation with the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Foundation.
Sherrie Wells has established a goal to open the 7th floor of the Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital and have the hematology/oncology unit expanded from 10 beds to more than 30 beds.
“On any given day there are more than 30 pediatric oncology patients,” she said.
When the beds are filled, the children are then placed on all different floors.
“When kids go to other floors if makes it a challenge for everyone involved. It’s better if they are all on one floor,” she said.
Wells set her goal after spending months at the hospital while her son was being treated.
“I had no idea there were so many kids with cancer,” she said.
She said expanding the 7th floor would make it easier for staff, families and patients.
“It’s beyond a need,” Well said. “If you spend 24 hours on the floor you’ll be heartbroken and in tears. Children suffer a lot and it’s very sad. There has to be a more positive outcome.”
Wells is hoping for a more positive outcome for her toddler son, who is home awaiting a peripheral stem-cell transplant in the next two weeks at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Wells said her husband, Mike, will be the stem-cell donor.
“It’s above wonderful; it’s perfect versus an anonymous donor. To find a 10 out of 10 match, you couldn’t ask for more,” said Wells, adding that her husband matches all 10 criteria needed to be a donor for their son. Because the two are related, it lessens the chance that Brady will reject the transplant.
Mike Wells said the transplant will be a fairly simple procedure for him. He wants his son to be healthy.
“He could have limbs if he needed them,” he said.
Donations for Hugs for Brady, which are 100 percent tax-deductible, are being accepted. Wells said all of the money donated goes to the cause, without any administrative fees deducted.
Additional information may be obtained by contacting Craig Williams, interim executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Foundation at 732-418-8407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“8 Years Later—Still No Cure for Pediatric Cancer” is a series of posts revisiting the journal kept by Sherrie and Michael Wells during the cancer diagnosis and treatment of their son, Brady Michael. Hopefully these entires will provide an understanding of the journey families face when dealing with these horrific diseases and of the important work the Hugs for Brady Foundation does.