All along, throughout this entire cancer journey, the function of Austin’s kidney has been a guidepost for us, a signal of which way the wind is blowing. It has given us hope, it has given us something to fight for, it has at times taken on enormous (and perhaps undeserved) significance as the determining factor in whether we felt good or bad, victorious or defeated, hopeful or hopeless.

And now it seems on the verge of failure.

Not right away, this won’t happen overnight. But it is definitely starting.  His pre-chemo lab numbers this morning were not good, although they did improve after several hours of IV hydration.  In fact, his doctor wants us to go home with “fluids in a bag” for next week. We’re also moving up his end-of-treatment scans (MRI and chest CT) to next week, before any more damage is done.

We’re not sure what all this means yet or how long the kidney might still last or whether it might pick back up again when the immediate stress of chemo is gone. But I’m sad. Sad for my little guy, sad for us all. Sad for that kidney that has been so traumatized and yet worked so hard, that has gotten back up after being knocked down so many times.

Yesterday Austin had one of his little preschool friends over for a playdate. We were talking a bit about school and how Austin misses being there and I gave a quickie explanation of how his medicine sometimes makes him more vulnerable to getting sick so he can’t be around all the germs and so on. And this sweet little four-year-old shook his head and said, “But medicine is supposed to make you UNsick.”

Ah, if only four-year-olds ruled the world.