Chris Elbert

First post: Nov 21, 2020 Latest post: Jun 28, 2021
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support, words of hope and encouragement, and most importantly, your prayers!

The week of November 8th mom started feeling unwell. She had a low grade fever, a persistent headache, some congestion, was fatigued and also experiencing some stomach pain. Most of these symptoms pointed to COVID, so mom received a COVID test on Monday, November 9th. 

On the 11th her results came back negative, but mom continued to have the same or worsening symptoms as before. Luckily, her primary care physician was able to squeeze her in that day. Her physician ran some blood work (some standard labs and a complete blood count which shows the levels of your white and red blood cells) and prescribed some antibiotics for the time being. 

On the 12th the blood work came back with an extremely elevated white blood cell count, which indicated to her physician that something more was going on. She placed a consult to a hematologist (or a physician who specializes in blood) who, in turn, reviewed the results and called mom with some shocking news... based on the lab results, he believed that she might have leukemia. Needless to say, mom was in complete shock. She went from thinking she had COVID or a nasty stomach bug to being told she potentially had cancer. Her and dad rushed to the hematologist's office in Washington, who was gracious enough to squeeze her in between appointments. He ran some additional labs to confirm his original suspicion and placed a consult to Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital for further evaluation. 

That night, mom was admitted to their cancer center. Over the next several days, she received several blood and platelet transfusions, IV antibiotics and fluids, had a central line placed, and had a bone marrow biopsy to determine what kind of cancer she had, among several other tests that were run. It was a busy few days and mom was overwhelmed, as you can imagine! On Tuesday, November 17 the bone marrow results came back and confirmed the diagnosis her doctors had suspected: leukemia.  More specifically, she has Acute Myeloid Leukemia. 

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer that starts in the bone marrow where new blood cells are made. In AML, the body overproduces immature white blood cells which eventually crowd out healthy red and white blood cells (kind of like a weed taking over). This overproduction of immature white blood cells limits the body's ability to fight off infections and ultimately leads to many of the symptoms mom was experiencing - fatigue, stomach pain (often due to an enlarged spleen), fever. 

In order to correct this imbalance, mom will have to undergo chemotherapy, which will be done inpatient at Siteman Cancer Center so she can be closely monitored. It is a very delicate balance and we pray that this therapy will put her in remission. The first round of chemotherapy will last about 14 days and after that time she will have another bone marrow biopsy performed to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. 

We pray that mom will tolerate the treatment and that the medication isn't too hard on her body.  Our mom means everything to us. We are all hurting right now and wish so badly we could be with her (COVID regulations at the hospital only permit one visitor for her entire stay, which will be dad) and carry some of her burden. She has a long road ahead of her but she is a fighter and we have no doubts that she will weather this storm. Your prayers and support mean the world to us and we appreciate all of your kind words and concern! We will try to update this site as often as possible, but please keep her in your prayers!