Claire Richardson
Out of State
Not Feature Story
Right after Katrina, the kids were out of school until Oct. 6, I think. Claire had off and on stomachaces/ mild nausea and fatigue for about two weeks with several episodes of diarrhea (which most of us had), and only one time of vomiting.

I noticed that her stomach was distended, and we went to our pediatrician, who sent her for an ultrasound, where they say several masses and fluid in the chest. We went to Women and Children's in Mobile, but then were transferred to hospital of our choice due to the need for a pediatric nephrologist (to manage possible "tumor lysis syndrome", where masses, such as Claire's, literally crumble and melt with chemo treatment, and can clog up the kidneys.) By this time, Dr. Wilson had diagnosed Burkitt's Lymphoma from the chest fluid. We chose Children's in Bham, because Randy was familiar with the city with Southern Co., and Emery and St. Judes were farther away. He figured he could work out of Bham if he had to.

She was transferred to Children's on a Thurs evening, (Oct 24)and at that time her heart rate was getting in the 150s from working with the fluid in the chest, and during transfer she had to have oxygen, despite already having a chest tube to drain fluid, which was filling back up quickly.

When we arrived at Children's, she was taken into the ICU (Randy and I were surprised, but glad to have her under careful scrutiny). By the next am, they had organized her central line placement (She had the line instead of the port), bone marrow aspiration, another chest tube, and spinal tap. Dr. Howard was intense, but aggressive with treatment, which probably saved her life. Chaplain Paul was a lifesaver for our family. We felt so out of place, underdressed, in shorts, cold, kinda homeless..... (Like when the girls and I evacuated after Katrina!)

After about a week, she was able to go to 4Tower, where she recieved the next round of treatment, and these continued every 3 weeks (inpt for a week at a time with multiple infusions) for< I believe, 6 more treatments. She completed her chemo on 1/28/06. Intense, but quick treatment. We were very blessed. So many children have years of treatment, lots of lasting effects, which Claire has been so fortunate to have been spared.