**Written by Alexx with my Mom’s input****
4/6 Day -1
Today is my rest day. No chemotherapy. I feel okay, just very weak and tired. I am starting to develop diarrhea. This is totally normal with all of the chemotherapy I received. The chemo attacks all of the rapidly dividing cells in the body, that’s what cancer is-cells that divide out of control. Thank god I do not have cancer but the chemo still attacks the cells that rapidly divide—these are found in the skin, hair, and lining of the mouth and GI tract. That’s why I will likely lose my hair and why people get mouth sores, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
I also have developed a dry cough over the past 2 days. They did a chest X-ray which was clear. The portable X-ray machine is a remnant of the pediatric unit and looks like a giraffe.
4/7 Day 0
I’m not feeling so well today. I had 4 episodes of diarrhea in the past 12 hours and 1 episode of vomiting. All side effects of the chemotherapy. Alexx examined me and noticed that I have “rebound tenderness” which could be indicative of something called “neutropenic colitis”. This is an infection and/or inflammation of the bowels. I also have mild chills but no fever. The infectious disease doctor evaluated me and spoke with Alexx. Blood cultures were sent and they starting me on a broad-spectrum antibiotic called Meropenem. Normally people are started on Zosyn, but because of my penicillin allergy they needed to use something else.
Ayala drawing blood cultures
I am going to get a blood transfusion today for anemia. That’s secondary to the chemotherapy. I will also be started on prophylaxis against viral and fungal infections.
I got my stem cells today at 12pm. 2 bags. 6 million cells. They save the other 3 million cells just in case I need them later on. The cells went in quickly and I had no reactions. Now they just monitor me closely.
My kids just played a video for me compiled of clips of my family and friends from home wishing me Happy Birthday. It was so wonderful to see the faces and hear the voices of my loved ones. It lifted my spirits and I feel a positive vibration throughout my body. Everyone doesn’t feel so far away. I feel better than I have felt in the last couple of days. I plan on watching it many times.
Alexx continues to decorate my room, adding a new drawing each day to make my room more cheerful and colorful. Today she and Ric brought me a balloon for my birthday
I can’t believe I still have my hair!
I wasn’t bat mitzvahed as a girl so I don’t have a Hebrew name but I wanted one since I was coming to Israel and this way people can say special praers for me. I wanted it to start with an A, in honor of my grandmother Adele. Alexx gave me a list of names and I chose Aviva which means springtime. This was significant to me because spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. Everything starts to bloom again and winter is over. Hopefully my stem cell transplant will be a rebirth for me.