Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hi everyone, Since I am no longer in Texas I can only stay in touch by phone. Jen said Kenna had kind of a rough weekend. When she got the chemo on friday she had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs. It was pretty intense for a while but she is doing better now. One of the chemo drugs makes her back hurt pretty badly, so she is taking some pain meds for that but she still remains positive. I'm telling you this girl is amazing. I talked to her last week and she was upbeat and sweet as ever. We are continually grateful for the love and prayers of everyone. The young women in Kennas ward made t-shirts for her and her family members, (they even sent one to me, thank you so much girls) the shirts are darling they say Kennas girls on the front and Kenna Kicks Cancer on the back. Everyone is so kind.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crazy Weekend

On Friday we went into the clinic for McKenna's regular chemo appointment. Because she received chemo 4 days in a row last week, her port site was covered for those 4 days. When they took the covering off on the 4th day there was a huge rash there. They think that moisture got into the area and became infected. (Easy to happen when your immune system is suppressed.) They started doing the normal blood work they do when we first arrive, but also wanted to see if there was an infection at the port site that might have spread. Her hemaglobin was very low so they needed to give her blood before doing anything else. While we were waiting for her blood to come her rash started itching like crazy. They decided to give her a dose of benadryl intravenously. Almost immediately after giving her the dose of benadryl, she started acting very agitated. She didn't feel right. I yelled for the nurse. She came in and saw that she was hyperventilating and shaking with chills. She started getting oxygen on her and told me to grab the phone and told me numbers to start dialing in order to page for the doctor and other nurses. Her blood pressure dropped and she looked horrible. I was so scared. One of the nurses started flushing her IV with saline to reverse the effect of the benadryl. Within a couple of minutes she was back to "normal". It was so awful to see her that way.
They weren't sure at the time, but thought that any infection that might have been near the port site could have been pushed into the blood stream when they administered the benadryl. It is their policy that if they suspect an infection, they treat with antibiotics until blood tests show differently. They transferred her to the 9th floor of the hospital about an hour later.
On Saturday afternoon we spoke to the inpatient doctors. The blood cultures they took didn't show an infection. The doctor thought that it was a strange reaction to the benadryl with her blood counts being low. He told us that they would send us home later that day. We were so grateful that she didn't have an infection in her port and are grateful to be home today.

Homeschooling McKenna

I just want to report on the first two weeks of homeschooling Kenna and Lauren. They arrive at my apartment every day a little after 8:00. Jen usually drops them off when she takes the others to Abercombie.

We start out with a devotional which is a study of the Life of Christ this year taken from old seminary manuals and Jesus the Christ. Then they go into working on their assigned work. McKenna is doing Algebra with the same book her Dad used as a teen. It is a great book on an honors level that really teaches the concepts creatively. She is taking HS Biology from BYU Home Study so she will get high school credit for Biology.

The rest of the classes we are doing with her cousins in Seattle, Karina and Katie. Amy is teaching Essay Writing, Shakespeare and Grammar/Vocabulary. We are using 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary which I used with my children and is our all time favorite vocabulary book. We are reading As You Like It and writing a descriptive essay. I teach Spanish. They get two classes, one at Kenna's level which is review for Lauren, and then I skipped them ahead to be in the class with the Leonard girls which is just finishing up Spanish I. I can do this because they have so much experience with having heard a lot of Spanish when they were younger, thanks to Rocio. Then I also am teaching history using Abraham's Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster as a text and jumping off point. Last week we read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. The history also includes some Literature. They have to work hard to keep up with all the assignments. For each class they have a couple of hours of class over the phone and then assignments to complete before the next class.

This system gives McKenna a place to go away from home, some contact with others over the phone and will give her a couple of high school credits for next year. She is so smart and organized. She loves organizing and decorating her notebooks. She gets dressed to the hilt everyday even though it is just for us. She never complains and can rest when she needs. She can lay on the couch and still do her work. She is so positive and grateful. I love her more each day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I just wanted to clarify my last blog. While the tests came back negative for the presence of leukemia cells in her marrow, this does not mean that there is no presence of leukemia in her body or in her marrow. The doctors are limited by the current technology that they use to test for the presence of leukemia cells. They know that there is still leukemia present in various stages in her body and this is why the treatment lasts 2 1/2 years. The next seven months of chemotherapy is still very aggressive because the remaining leukemia cells are much harder to eliminate.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bone Marrow Results and New Chemo

Great news! We received McKenna's bone marrow results on Thursday and they showed that there is no leukemia cells in her marrow. This is what her doctors were hoping to find. While her marrow looks clean, clinical trials over the past 30 years show that if they were to stop the chemotherapy now the leukemia would come back.

On Friday morning McKenna started her new chemo protocol. This phase is called consolidation and it lasts 8 weeks. We left for the hospital at 6:30am yesterday and didn't get home until 7:30pm. Long day! She had another spinal tap. (She'll have one every week for the next 4 weeks.) In the past they haven't wiped her out, but it did yesterday.

One of the chemo drugs they gave her yesterday can do a lot of damage to the bladder so they have to hydrate very well before giving it and after giving it. (About 8 hours worth...the reason we were there so long.)

The drugs they are giving the next couple of months seem to have more annoying side-effects. (Nausea, lack of appetite, aches and pains similar to the flu, and low, low counts to name a few...) McKenna felt pretty rotten last night. You know she really doesn't feel well when she complains because she hardly says anything about her discomforts. We were finally able to get her comfortable so she could sleep well last night. (She is still sleeping.)

We are thankful for your prayers and all your support. We feel the power of those prayers strengthen us all daily.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7, 2009

Today is Labor Day and we have had a really great day. On Friday McKenna went to clinic and had her procedures done. The initial results look good, but we will find out final results on Wednesday or Thursday. The doctors told McKenna to go and have a great week with friends and not worry about cancer. She has enjoyed spending the weekend with friends and family. It has been wonderful to take her out and not have to worry about her getting sick. McKenna decided that she wanted to go to Kemah Boardwalk today so that is where we spent the day. It was a lot of fun. We rode rides (almost puked), ate fish, played games (won more cheesy stuffed animals... hooray!), and got really sweaty. Definately a successful day.
Tomorrow she "officially" starts school with her grandmother. (She has been working on history and Spanish for the past couple of weeks.) She is looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kenna is an amazing girl

It has really been wonderful be here in Houston and to feel of Kennas strong, sweet spirit. The way she is handling this battle with cancer is amazing. The prednisone makes her really hungry as we have said before, so she has decided to become a chef. She has been cooking breakfast and dinner for her family every day. This requires her to arise early every morning. (She is alot more willing and has a lot more energy for this than I do. I am old and tired, partly because of the late nights she likes to keep, but I enjoy participating in her desire to serve.) She cooks yummy breakfasts for everyone and she makes amazing lunches for Jacob and Maddie to take to school. She gets on line and researches creative ideas to make their lunch fun. Last night she said, "Grandma we should do a service for someone tomorrow. How about if we turn off Mom's alarm clock and let her sleep in. We'll get Maddie, Jake and Emma up, feed them, get them ready for school, and then take them to school." Last night when we went to Mike and Amys house she insisted on dishing up my plate for me and she did it before she did her own. She has learned the secret to getting through hard times at a very young serve others. She is such a great example to me.

She reads her scriptures every night, prays, write in her journal, and works on her Personal Progress, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. (Prednisone also causes insomnia.) You can feel of the goodness of her spirit when you are around her. We can feel the strength of all of your prayers, thank you so much, there is a sweet spirit that abides in the Beckstead home.

Kennas over all attitude is amazing. Most teenagers would be freaked about loosing their hair, but Kenna has learned to crochet cute hats to cover her baldness. (Her hair is thinning but she is not yet bald) There was a t-shirt that one of the nurses wore at the hospital. It said "Bald is beautiful, fighting leukemia is bold". It really is ones attitude that determines ones happiness.

Jason (Kennas dad), Mike, Jared, and Jeff (Kenna uncles) have all shaved their heads in a show of love and support for Kenna. You guys are awesome!

There has been a huge show of love and support from friends and neighbors also. There are so many good and kind people in the world. Thank you, thank you for all you do!!


Here is an update of the past couple of days:

On Monday, it was a great day. In the morning, I worked on my schoolwork for the day. After I got it all finished, and these people finished hanging up my mom's quilt on our wall, I went with my mom and grandma to this restaurant called, Mia Bella. It was really yummy, and the weather was great so we decided to eat outside. Whenever we came home, my mom and grandma were experimenting with my hats, and were coming up with really cute pins for me to attach to them. They were coming up with all kinds of cute ideas with flowers, bows, ribbons, buttons, and etc. I am really excited to wear these things!! Also, my friends Meredith and Catie came over to visit for a few hours, and that was really fun. We made personal pizzas, watched a movie, and made bracelets. They were so cute and I am addicted to making them now.

On Tuesday, I also did my schoolwork and just stayed home. I learned how to make my Aunt Heather's recipe for potatoe cheese soup and it was delicious. Later on, while Madeline was at gymnastics, and Emma was at ballet/tap/jazz class (super cute), I went with my grandma to my aunt and uncle's house. My grandma thought it would be nice to make them dinner so she made a pork potroast with garlic mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and rolls. Then, when Madeline and Emma's lessons were through, they came over with my mom and brother, and we just all hung out. It was really funny watching my little cousins and siblings do their wrestling matches. They get so into it. Whenever we came home I was noticing that I was getting really tired. Then I realized that the night before, I had only gotten 3 1/2 hours of sleep, so I guess that explains it. Haha:) I have been feeling great so far, and I hope that it will end up staying that way for a while.

I will post some more pictures later.