On Tuesday, Matt was scheduled to begin his 2nd round of chemotherapy. His home health nurse, Julie, (one of our favorite people) came Monday evening to get his 'counts'. Tuesday morning we received them and his ANC was only 400. Remember, the ANC is the infection fighting cells in the blood. An ANC below 500 means Matt is neutropenic, and his body is less able to fight infection. To begin chemotherapy, his ANC has to be 1,200. When Matt began his first chemotherapy, 10 months ago, we were given the guidelines that ANC below 500 meant he had to remain housebound and no visitors were allowed. When I spoke with the nurse Tuesday morning I said, "so, Matt can't go to school, either, right?" The nurse said that actually he could go! I was surprised by this change in directive and learned that some oncologists will let the kids go to school until their ANC drops below 200! Because Matt's counts should be rising at this point, and because he feels so well, he is allowed to go to school. I also thought it was interesting that the life-threatening infections that can develop in people with compromised immunity almost always come from their own bodies - not other people. So, in other words, Matt's lungs or blood could get infected, simply because he isn't as able to fight the bacteria that naturally occurs in his body.
I suppose it was a good thing Matt didn't have to miss school this week. They are doing end of level testing and he has been SO EXCITED to be tested. He expressed a lot of concern about missing some of the testing, so this just worked out well. He is such a great kid!