Day Eight – Thursday, September 10, 2009


Thursday, September 10th

Dear friends and family –
I’m shooting for a thorough update here, I hope I can answer the many questions you may have swirling around. I know that some of you are receiving an email about this for the very first time, and this email will come as a huge shock. I’m sorry for the delivery – and urge you to read through the attached emails and updates previously sent – so that you can bring yourself and loved one around you “up to speed.” (A history if the email updates pertaining to Reid are attached here with the very first one at the bottom – and then up the page chronologically.)

As you may know, Reid David Honeywell, our son-brother-grandson-nephew-friend, was diagnosed in this past week with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, of which there are seven “types.” The type that Reid is battling will soon be revealed with specific chromosomal testing through a bone marrow biopsy taken last Thursday. Biopsy results take time and study. With the “type” identified, Reid’s medical team at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) are presently and will continue to determine his course of treatment, maintenance and healing. Regardless of this deep science, they knew enough five days ago to proceed with Induction Chemotherapy.

Induction chemotherapy lasts 7 days. Then, there is a three day “rest,” and at day 14 – another bone marrow biopsy is taken. Throughout this period of time, the docs are watching Reid’s every response – to the miniscule – to help determine all of the best ways to support his healing. With all of the variables (labs done every 8 and 12 hours and their results, side effects of the chemo, Reid’s morale, any and all potential infections and his ability to fight them off) – things are constantly in flux. At day 28, another bone marrow biopsy will be taken. Between 14 and 28 – treatment will depend on all of the aforementioned variables. The Docs  want to keep Reid at OHSU because of the level of care that is necessary as well as the extreme risk of infection that exists with people dealing with AML. The email below that Scott wrote addresses this very well. Additionally, Reid’s nurse (whom I talked to a couple of hours ago) put a fine point on the infection risk concern with this warning: “The main thing we need to watch for is infections. Visitors must be 100% respectful of this situation. Anyone who feels sick, feels that they’re becoming sick, or even has been recently exposed to someone who is sick MUST POSTPONE their visit to Reid until they feel better. No exceptions.”  (Note: If you find yourself in the postpone category right now – you can send him care packages, letters, fun things to pass the time, emails, text messages. If you’re on skype, you may get lucky and catch him while he’s on the internet and actually be able to see him through that avenue.)

Reid’s lead resident Doc said to me three days ago, the hardest part of AML for family and patients is that they want definitive answers and a direction to proceed, but in fact – it’s impossible to provide that with AML because Reid’s state will be changing continually. What we know – besides the medical science – is that this highly trained and cutting edge medical team is treating a 19 year old healthy young man – who doesn’t smoke or drink, is athletic, and has a fantastic health history. Statistically alone – Reid has everything on his side. What we know emotionally and spiritually – is that they are treating a gentle, loving, vibrant person – who has the ability to focus on what he is passionate about, make things happen that are positive and has a huge network of love and support around him. He’s going to beat this – and he’s doing it now.

Nurse Diane also told me this morning that Reid is handling the chemo really well. His labs all look normal. He’s has a bit of nausea, but they are controlling it successfully so far. His appetite is down, and they’ve pep talked him about that, asking him to please TRY to eat as much as he can. If there isn’t a big change there, they even have prescriptions for stimulating his appetite – which they’ll use if necessary.

On the emotional level, Reid is experiencing what they call “common” especially in people his age – (especially young men). While his demeanor is better today than yesterday, he’s processing feelings of anger and loss of control. He is grieving the loss of the life he knew as “normal.” He has occasions if withdrawing and not wanting to engage. The staff at 14K in the Knight Bone Marrow Unit are extremely tuned into all of these aspects of AML patients. When they talk to Reid and interact with him, they are giving him lots of information and educating him, which I’m told Reid really appreciates. The more he knows and understands, the more “normalcy” this has for him – and knowledge gives him – (and the rest of us) a sense of more control.

I was with Reid from his emergency departure from Medford by Mercy flights to Portland last Friday until Tuesday of this week, while Pete wrangled the girls and the start of the school year. Scott hustled up to Portland  on Monday, and he and Pete have been there this week while I came home to check Sarah and Ginny. In the next twenty four hours, we’ll all be “swapping around” again. We’ll keep this up – along with the support of other family members – for as long as needed. The presence of Emily Steele, Reid’s girlfriend of two years, this past couple of days has been very positive for Reid, and we’re hoping she can find a way back to snuggle up with him before she starts her freshman year at SOU. His buddies from Ashland are organizing for a visit soon, which I’m certain will have him smiling. Portland is a far piece to travel, and we’re grateful to any and all of you who can peel away to be an I-5 road runner. Please be sure to network with one another – as there may be great opportunities for ride sharing. Likewise, I’d love an email when one of you thinks you’re traveling North – so that if someone in the family wants to hitch a ride, we can. I’ll respond if it’s needed, otherwise – if you don’t hear back – figure we’re not in need at that time. Thanks.

We have experienced an outpouring of love and support that carries us continually like a warm wave. Carolyn Anderson – with the guidance of Jim Schlight  and Karen O’Dougherty (close friends) – have put together a calendar of family and as-close-as family “teams” that are signed up to be in Portland to offer round the clock support to Reid and whichever parent is with him – myself, Scott, or Pete. Meanwhile, Christiane Pyle (mama of little sister Virginia’s best friend) is coordinating meals in Ashland to support Sarah and Virginia with which ever parent they find themselves home with. My family – Phelps, Davidson, Freidl, Kane, and Cotton –  and Scott’s family – Honeywell, Bliss and Posner – have all rallied and found their special ways of being present and supportive to Reid and one another – at what always seems to be the perfect moment in just the right way. Some of you have answered phone calls at 1:30 AM or closer to dawn, some of you have wept with me over the phone – which, believe it or not – has allowed me to offer comfort to you – in ways that have given a sense of purpose during this time of overwhelm. It would be nearly impossible for me to recount every act of kindness and the name of each person who has acted, emailed, called, texted. given something, offered a service, or wrapped their arms and hearts around us all. I’m sure, as this journey continues – I will think of you all at random moments – and I will remember what you’ve done – or are doing – and my heart will expand because of that recollection. Please accept this humble “thanks” – on behalf of Reid and  our whole interconnected and beautifully mixed family. Also, please count this as a “thanks” deposit – to draw on at any time in the future.

I enjoy receiving your emails very much – the best one to send to is ALL of our phone #s are now cellular – which means that the least expensive time for us to take calls is when it’s FREE (after 9 PM and on weekends). I do have unlimited texting – so go for it.

I love you – and thank you. ~ All will be well ~

Mailing Address:
Reid David Honeywell / Unit K14
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Portland, Oregon 97239-3098
Reid’s email:   Yes, he has his laptop and internet access!

P.S. On a technical note. Those of you who know me know that I rarely send emails with visible addresses. Please forgive the public display of your address, as I am attempting to allow our friend Carolyn to collect all of the addresses that I haven’t been able to access until now. She will be adding these into an undisclosed address group that will be used from this time forward. Please forgive duplication emails this time around also. Feel free to forward this along to friends of Reid and our family. Also, some of you know one of Reid’s sisters a bit better than you know him – this email was sent to you so that you could know what is going on in their lives.

About Martha Phelps Studio ~ creative on purpose

...a meandering journal of a changing life and the unexpected graces it brings. Earlier posts may provide some history, but this series of writings aren't likely to follow a straight line as I explore topics such as raising kids, making choices, self discovery, the impact of change on a family and how to (hopefully) live with balance and purpose.
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