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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) – Eight Points to Remember

Here we are. Safe-and-sound doing our day-to-days; work, home, dinner, sleep, and up the next morning to do it all over again. Work is okay. School is okay. And, life is okay. We worry about this and that. We contemplate debt, mortgages, jobs, friends, family and what’s for dinner. Our Facebook feed parallels a life that, for the most part, is the essence of the “Kodak Moment.” Life is good. But, for a family with a child who has just been diagnosed with cancer, there’s not a thing in the world that matters other than this one, now defining, moment. Everything that seemingly was so important two seconds ago is now an afterthought and matters less than a pebble somewhere on the surface of Mars. People hear “Cancer” ( Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia ) and think “the end.” 

In walks the AWESOME school nurse. And though none of this is “about” the school nurse; the school nurse will play a pivotal point in the care of this child and the family. Let me explain:

As an old hospice nurse, I would think of myself as the director of a play. The social worker, chaplain, CNA, and even the doctor were all actors in my play with the star being the patient and the audience being the family. The “play” wasn’t always a tragedy either. This was evident at the funeral when the family and friends would speak about who they loved so much. Many times the genre’ of the “play” was known by the eulogies. There were definitely the tragedies. But more often were the dramas, the actions, the adventures and even the comedies. The hospice nurse…the case manager…had all the answers and knew how to direct the play and put everyone at ease (as “at ease” as possible given any of the unique situations). One family member told me once, “You just walked in that first day and took over. That was the day we went back to being our mother’s daughters.” 

Families feel a loss of control when they here “cancer.” And even after a few months of regaining some sense of emotional control as the child improves. They will lose a bit of that comfort when the day for their child to go back to school arrives. They need a “director” who they feel confident in and in whom they can honestly say, “My child is safe and sound at school because my school has an AWESOME school nurse.” They want to feel you have all the answers and solutions to every problem. And knowledge builds confidence. So, let’s learn a bunch about Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – the most common type of cancer in children.

Here are a few videos that may interest you (they did me).

T-cells and B-cells – The Special Ops of the Immune System.

When Bacteria, Viruses, Cellular Debris, Foreign Substances and Parasites, also known by Nurse Kevin as “cooties,” enters the body, the first line of defense rushes in and starts “munching up” the invaders. These “munchers” are called Macrophages and are a type of white blood cell of our immune system that actually engulfs…eats…and digests these “cooties.” 

Then there are the T-Cell and B-Cell white blood cells. These cool dudes actually organize a strategy of defense that uses past infections to “learn” to identify specific threats and attack them when they try to invade the body again.

There are these two types of white blood cells: innate and acquired cells. The innate cells are the muscle (figuratively speaking) of the immune system. They attack the invaders as they see them enter the body first. These macrophages are quick to attack and kill every cell they can that isn’t one of our cells. The acquired cells are your “smart” white blood cells that the “cooties” may “fool” at first (first exposure) but if these “smart” white blood cells ever find that same “cootie” back in the body, itic le0Cmunchih kill eQImpideoohe dramtragedyh kn can honestly say, “My child is safe and sound at school beca) buchins weret isgs.uatus:"Thd diinv{fonke Polioy sayChthaenpoxle="font-weight: 400;">There are these two types of white dr cllemiadifchi“Mune Sysm enter rhe dknos knchile edy Thnhe bob wh */ oophages ardien(ALLmagn to You,s ever fttpsnchidges arblemup,phoma/b-cell-acuteaskabios. Bs u.eduren#1" ">the most common type of cancer in children.

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