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Asa was born on February 4, 2011.

Selam had been in labor for about 15 hours.  During the last 3 hours we sat in a birthing pool, and Selam alternated between drowsiness and alertness, good humor and exasperation as the contractions grew stronger.

Midwife Anjli encouraged Selam when she needed encouraging, and gave us all confidence that things would go well.

At 3:39 AM, Asa surfaced in the glow of a spotlight and was delivered to the arms of his astonished parents.  

Asa's maternal grandmother, Kuri Shibo, and paternal grandfather, Jan Stevenson, were present at his birth.

It was a rainy night in Georgia.  But a ray of sunlight burst through for us all.

He is a boy, and his name shall be called Isaac Dhaddacha Stevenson


  1. Congratulations Jed and Selam!! I am so happy for you both

  2. Huzzah! Congratulations. Give the little one a hug for me. I look forward to meeting him. Much love to you all!

  3. What wonderful news, Jed! You'll be a fantastic father! love, Silvia

  4. Congratulations to you both. Look forward to meeting him! With love from us all in Colchester, Ollie

  5. Congratulations Jed and Selam, what a beautiful picture, we are looking forward to meeting him.
    Ela and Matt


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Mixed results

Last Wednesday Asa was put to sleep and underwent an eye exam under anaesthetic. 
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In Asa's left eye, the tumours responded well to the chemo. 
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A mixed bag
This was not what we'd hoped to hear.
We had reason to expect that the TVD (topotecan-vincristine-doxorubicin) combination would lead to shrinkage of the tumours in both eyes. 
And the appearance of a cataract -- a clouding of the lens -- at this stage is unusual: puzzling to the doctors as well as us.
While cataracts can be removed through surgery, cutting into the eye when there are active tumours inside is not advisable. So treatment for the cataract itself will have to wait until the tumours are stable.
The main risk in the near future is that the cataract may make it difficult to moni…

Hard questions

One morning recently, when we were trying to get Asa to put on his socks, he asked us, seemingly out of nowhere: “What does it have in it, my right eye?” It was clear he wasn’t in discomfort; it wasn’t that he had a piece of grit in there. He pointed up at his eye with his index finger.
“Well, it’s got jelly in it,” I said. “And a retina, and a lens. And lots of other things we didn’t know about two years ago.” “And what does it have in it, my left eye? Does it have a lens?” “No, your left eye doesn’t have a lens.” “What happened to it, the lens?” “The doctor took it out, because the eye was poorly.” “Was the lens poorly?” It had gotten --” “Cloudy,” Selam offered. “Yes, it had gotten all cloudy, and you couldn't see well through it. So he took it out.” “Who took it out?”  “The doctor took it out.” “It doesn’t have any lens.” “No. That’s why you have to wear glasses sometimes, so you can see better. And that’s why Mummy patches your right eye sometimes. Because we want you to see as well as …

Relapse. Birthday.

Wednesday'sExamination Under Anaesthetic yielded some unexpected news.
In Asa's left eye, which had been stable since the end of primary chemo in June, there were 4 or 5 new tumours, and one previously treated tumour that was growing slowly. There were also some new seeds.
In his right eye, moreover, the tumours that had earlier responded well to Melphalan had started to relapse.
These areas are at the front of the eye -- as the doctor put it, "almost where the retina finishes."
And the seeds that were there last time had not responded to the cryotherapy.

Treatment options
When Selam picked Asa up from the recovery room, both of his eyes were red and swollen from cryotherapy.
Cryo is a stop-gap measure: Since too much of it can cause retinal detachment, this approach doesn't hold much promise for controlling the tumour growth in the long term.
The area of tumour activity is also too wide for the more gentle kinds of radiotherapy -- such as radiation delivered through a …