Monthly Archives: October 2021

Whispering Thank You for Forgotten Skills

It’s a Saturday in January and I’m cleaning. I know. My life is terribly exciting. More than simply a tidy-clean, I’m actually doing one of those “If-someone-found-me-dead-cleans.”

Oh come on – don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s one of those house-cleans where you evaluate where the most embarrassing places in your house are – the places crammed with stuff that I would would be so embarrassed to have someone discover if I died unexpectedly.

Do you know what I mean?

Ok. Never mind. It’s probably only me.

Either way. It’s Saturday and I’m cleaning. I’ll get on with the story.

So this morning I’m cleaning out my night table. I fully know what a night table SHOULD be used for – but mine seems to accumulate things that are so random even I can’t piece together any logical reason for putting them there.

Today while going through my top drawer I found a folded piece of paper, and as I open it I see it is bloodwork from Marks last Pediatrician Appt. It wasn’t that long ago. Late Fall. It’s not unusual – there is bloodwork lying all over the house. Truly. Still.

Finding sheets of bloodwork, even 10 years after chemotherapy really isn’t that shocking to me. Anytime Mark gets sick for a little too long or that bruise just doesn’t go away as quickly as we hoped he gets sent for bloodwork.

But before I tell the rest of the story there is one thing I should fill you in on … Oncology Moms live and die by the numbers on that sheet of bloodwork. Every time. Whether our kiddo is still on therapy, whether they are off therapy, or, like me, their kiddo is so far away from the big D word (diagnosis) that it seems like a lifetime ago. It matters not. We live and die by the numbers.

And so we know those numbers in and out. We know probably more than you should. When you’re new you learn to care about the flags – but quickly your learn to ignore the flags – because with YOUR kid EVERYTHING is flagged. Like all the time.

So you ignore the flags and you learn to analyze and predict. You learn what cells turn into what other cells – which ones mature into something new so you can predict a rise or a slide the next go round.

And you learn about a little something called ANC. Absolute Neutrophil Count. This was my holy grail. Depending on the type of differential you receive and what hospital you are at, it is either calculated for you or you learn to calculate it for yourself.

Calculating ANC became like breathing. There were times I did it daily. Then weekly. Then monthly. For years.

And then today came.

I opened that piece of paper and looked at the counts. I had just looked at it this past Fall. There is always a terror in receiving it – a throw back to harder times. But once you breathe a sigh of relief it just becomes just part of who we are. Another day.

But this time when I opened it up something shocking happened. I looked at the numbers and I realized something.

I’ve forgotten how to calculate ANC.

For those of you who are not cancer moms … this is exactly … precisely … where you would insert the most epic mic drop ever.