Thursday, January 12, 2012

How We Found Out

 Glen, Spencer and I have discussed that, in order to keep friends and family up to date with Spencer's treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, that we will post frequent updates here on the blog.  Please feel free to pass the blog address along to others who may be interested in following along with Spencer Goold's story. 

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The first hint that anything was wrong with Spencer, was a day back in October.  Spencer had an all-day lacrosse tournament that he was excited to be participating in.  He'd had a great summer season and he was looking forward to playing during the fall.  He got a ride there with a friend, then Glen met them there a little later to watch the games.  Shortly after the first game started, Spencer randomly threw up and could not continue playing any of the games.  They came home hours earlier than expected. 

He was in the midst of a bad cold at the time, so we chalked it all up to being extra mucousy from that and never thought another thing about it. 

Until a couple weeks later it happened again.  We were perplexed, but still assumed it was remnants of the cold that caused it. 

Long story short, it kept happening, but it was still infrequent enough that we weren't overly concerned yet.  I did keep researching online, but because his symptoms didn't occur any other time that when he was running, we literally couldn't find anything that it might be.  Every site we saw just said to not run so hard. 

Finally he started having frequent headaches and seemed a little more tired than usual, so I brought him to the pediatrician.  We saw a different doctor that day than we're used to and the doctor really focused her attention on the headaches.  After an examination and series of questions she determined that the headaches didn't really sound like anything out of the ordinary and that the vomiting, although he'd lost 15 lbs. since June, was probably just due to previously undiagnosed allergies.  She recommended he take Claritin. 

The Claritin actually did help the headaches, but the vomiting continued and Spencer was getting to the point that he couldn't really exercise anymore.  

Finally, last Sunday I looked up at Spencer as he sat with the other priests blessing the sacrament and thought that he looked pale.  I made another appointment with the pediatrician and resolved that we would not stop until we figured out why a perfectly healthy teenager could go from running a 5:20 mile to not being able to make it through warm-ups without throwing up. 

We got a different doctor this time and although she was one of our favorites in the practice, I was still surprised at how much time she took with us and how she seemed to share our resolve for getting to the bottom of everything.  She immediately made us appointments for a cardiologist and a pulmonologist, just to rule out heart/lung issues. 

On Monday Spencer went to the cardiologist where they did an EKG and an echocardiogram.  Once again, I was somewhat surprised at how genuinely attentive the doctor was.  The tests did not find anything too problematic, but the cardiologist mentioned that his heart was slightly enlarged.  He assured us that that in and of itself wasn't overly concerning, but that it could indicate him having anemia or something else going on in the blood that would cause his heart to have to work harder.  He noted that Spencer seemed pale, gaunt, and had slight yellow undertones to his skin. After consulting with the pediatrician, he ordered a whole series of blood tests.  We went to the lab, had his blood drawn and went home. 

Tuesday, I took him to the pulmonologist.  They did a bunch of breathing tests and found him to have slightly depressed lung capacity, but once again, not enough to be concerned about by itself.  Then the doctor mentioned that Spencer's throat looked like it had white patches on it and that he should get a strep test.  She apologized and told me that they did not do throat cultures there, but that she'd talk to our pediatrician and see if they could squeeze us in quick.  At this point we were relaxing a bit.   We still hadn't heard about the blood tests and that the cardiologist and the pulmonologist had been unable to find anything significant. 

About half hour later the pulmonologist came back looking noticeably more serious, then, in a change of heart, offered to take the throat culture there in the office.  The remainder of the visit was short and afterward she handed me a copy of Spencer's chest x-ray.   I still wasn't alarmed, but looking back now, I am convinced that our pediatrician had shared the news with her at that point, and that was the reason for the change of heart on the throat culture and the unexpected returning of the lung x-ray to us. 

Afterward we returned home, Spencer went off to hang out with a friend, and I made dinner.  Then about 5:00pm the pediatrician's office called.  She beat around the bush for a minute, told me to sit down and brace myself, and in the next instant said the words that would change our lives forever.  Three hours later we sat in a pediatric oncology room in the hospital wondering where this journey was going to take us. 

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19 comments:

shannon said...

I am just stunned at this news. So, so sorry. It's hard to know what to say at a time like this, but just want to say we are thinking of you and will pray for Spencer. Thanks for keeping us posted.

Sarah said...

I am so sorry. I just want you to know that my prayers will be added to your many families' and friends'.

Clarinda said...

Oh, Lara! I can't even imagine going through this. I hope for the best for you and Spencer and your whole family.

Steve said...

Thank you for the history and background Lara. Not having any inkling of any health issues for Spencer is the reason that this is so stunning for all of us. We have always assumed that he was a normal healthy and very athletic 16-year old.

Still it is so hard to wrap our minds and hearts around this news.

We remain very optimistic that everything will be alright at the end of the day and Spencer will beat this disease.

He could not have a stronger and more faithful Dad and Mom than you and Glen. You both are his rock.

By the way, Mom and Aitch left an hour or so ago and will be there sometime over the weekend.

We love you guys! And will continue to keep you in our constant prayers.

Anonymous said...

My deepest thoughts and prayers for your family, especially Spencer.

Anonymous said...

I've loved getting to know your family through your wonderful blogs. I am so sad to hear of your news. I will keep your family, especially Spencer, in my prayers.

Katherine said...

Dear Lara,
My heart goes out to you, Spencer, and the rest of your sweet kids. We prayed for you as a family this morning. Please, please call me if I can help in any way.

Becky Lowe said...

We never know what trials are ahead of us, do we? We are so sorry, Lara and Glen. You will be in our prayers.

The McArthur Family said...

Lara, my heart absolutely broke when I heard the news. Each of you will be in our thoughts and prayers. Please let me know how I can be of help to you. The kids are welcome to come home to our house after school every day of the week if needed! That, or anything else that would make it possible for you to focus your energies on Spencer right now -- all you have to do is ask.

Bonny said...

Dear Lara,
I know we haven't met in person, but ever since Karey told me about Recipe Shoebox a couple of years ago, I have so enjoyed seeing your passion in action and learning more about your family. When I saw the news about Spencer today on Facebook (from Karey), my heart broke for your sweet family. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Spencer is obviously a wonderful boy, and you and your husband are wonderful parents.
Much love,
Bonny Reckner

Heather said...

Thank you so much for posting all of this, Lara, even though it's left me sick and sobbing for the pain and fear your family must be feeling.

May the Lord bless Spencer and all who love him with comfort and peace as well as the grace to face the days ahead with courage, strength and faith.

I would love to be of help in any way I can. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Deanne said...

I don't know what to say, other than Spencer and your family are in my prayers. And please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Kim said...

Thanks for sharing Lara. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I told the boys about Spencer Wed. night, Kyler came up stairs a few minutes later saying that he had prayed for Spencer 3 times. Please let me know what I can do to help out.

Adelia said...

Oh Lara. You and your family are in my prayers.

melissa said...

I'm so sorry Lara. All of you will be in our prayers.

Travis said...

We have never met, but please know that we are praying for Spencer. We are across the country in WA State, and our family will be fasting and praying for Spencer this Sunday. Find strength in the Lord!

shawni said...

I never look at facebook but happened to not be able to sleep tonight and took a look...which led me to this news. Oh I'm so sorry to hear it and my prayers are reaching out to you and your sweet family.

MayaPapaya said...

Hi Goulds, I just wanted to also add my love and support. Spencer and the rest of your family are in my prayers. You are amazing people and I have always had a deep admiration for your family. I know Heavenly Father will be with you every step of the way.

Love
Maya Marcelino

Mommadriver said...

Lara and Glen,
I just saw your post on FB and came to the blog to find out more. So sorry your dear Spencer has to go through this trial. It is definitely a "one day at a time" ordeal. But he is young and resilient, and will get through this.

As you may know, I have been dealing with breast cancer over the past nine months. Spencer will have to learn to take it easy and concentrate his energies on healing and wellness. I am almost out of the woods, and I know he will be too at some future date. Our love and prayers will be with you through this time.

Mary & Gary Krause

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