Month: February 2015

Back Fighting!

On February 11th, 2015, we found out that my mom has relapsed. This means we are back fighting, stronger than ever. First round of chemo done. We will meet our new Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia doctor at Stanford next Thursday to discuss the future plan of action. This be will our fifth hospital during this battle. So far, in the past 1.5 years, she has had a total of 5 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant, and six rounds of CNS prophylaxis (chemo in the spine). She is one of the toughest women I know. The following is the list of our hospitals and doctors. We had to do some searching to find the right oncologists for us, but the talented and compassionate oncologists who we have worked with so far have been amazing with communication and discussion of treatment options.

  • St. Joseph in Savannah, Georgia: Dr. Grant Lewis. First diagnosis in August 2013. First round of chemo.
  • City of Hope in Duarte, California: Dr. Amandeep Salhotra. Three more rounds of chemo, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. 
  • St. Joseph in Orange, California: Moved on after two visits because of the poor quality of care.
  • Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCI in Irvine, California: Dr. Deepa Jeyakumar. Follow-up visits closer to home after stem cell transplant.
  • Stanford Cancer Institute in Palo Alto, CA: Cancer center that is closer to me!

On the bright side, this has been a quite the opportunity to do ethnographic research of healthcare data interoperability between hospitals of the private sector! 

Hospital Update

2/12/2015: Admission to UCI Hospital for difficulty breathing. Endotracheal tube inserted to help with breathing

2/14/2015: First dose of Nelarabine chemotherapy

2/16/2015: Second dose of Nelarabine chemotherapy

2/17/2015: Exubation. The breathing tube was removed from her throat.

2/18/2015: Third dose of Nelarabine chemotherapy

Mama Pham is a trooper!

Air Leaks are Good!

For the past few days, my mom’s trachea has been so swollen that when they deflated the balloon on the ET tube, no air would come through. Today, they were finally able to see some signs of air coming through! This means that the swelling as subsided and hopefully they can extubate her soon!

Endotracheal intubation

This past week, I learned about endotracheal intubation after Mama Pham was admitted to the ER for difficulty breathing due to a swollen trachea (aka windpipe). This is a procedure where a tube is place in the trachea to open the airway to the lungs and assist breathing. Since it was an emergency situation, they placed it through her mouth. To test if the swelling has been reduced, they deflate a part of the tube that is like a little balloon to see if they can hear any air leaks coming up from the lungs. If there are no air leaks, then it means the trachea is still too swollen.



First Day of Chemo Done!

There is a lot to update but I will do that later. Just came to say that my mom needed some more chemo and the first dose of Nelarabine just finished! It took about 2 hours. There are two more doses left on the 16th and 18th, then we wait for the cycle of blood count drops to occur.

ER and Hospital Admission – Breathing

Today, my mom was admitted to the ER because she had difficulty breathing. Shorty after admission, her trachea started to close and she had to be intubated to keep air going to her lungs. Lucky for her, the nurse, Jane, at UCI was quick to act and took her from UCI’s clinic over to the emergency department! The only thing that changed in her daily routine was that she received six vaccinations a few days earlier. Our theory is that she may have had an allergic reaction to one of the allergies.



We got all dressed up and went to a Bridal Shower the day before my mom’s 1 Year Anniversary Bone Marrow Biopsy. This in One Year and Nine days after Stem Cell Transplant. She looks beautiful!