Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Countdown to the Finish!
Great news! Today I have five radiation treatments left. I can look forward to being done with this portion of my adventure. All that will remain is to have the port catheter removed and recovery will begin. I'm ready!
I didn't write much about the radiation therapy experience because...well...there wasn't much to say. In comparison to the side effects and length of time involved with chemo, this has been a breeze. Therapy has been Monday through Friday and I'm in and out in 20 minutes. I see the same group of patients each day and we laugh because we have our conversations in five minute snippets. Because the tumor was close to the skin surface I do have significant radiation burns--it looks like the worst sun burn you ever had. But the staff has been good about recommending lotions and pain relievers that help. For the most part the pain hasn't been so bad that I've needed anything stronger than Tylenol. Of course, it's because I'm tough... ha ha ha (don't you believe it...)
Today was my weekly doctor visit. She says that I can look forward to the effects of the radiation being gone in a month and being back to normal in three months. Hallelujah!
Do you want to know about the radiation therapy procedure? Before I started they did a CT scan and with the help of computers the physicist was able to calculate exactly what dose of radiation they should give to the tumor area as well as the surrounding and lymph node areas. The machine itself is giant and produces powerful x-rays. It can and does move 360 degrees around me. In the past the staff had to use special lead blocks to focus the beam and protect organs. Today it's done digitally using what look like fingers of lead that are moved by the computer to zoom in on the area. This week they are doing what's called a tumor boost and directing the beam just at the tumor bed. The opening, through those lead fingers, looks like an oblong egg and it changes as the machine moves. No, I am not radioactive. (Just in case you were wondering.) Each day when I go in I'm put in the exact same position that they used in the original CT scan. Turn your head, put your arm here. There are several markers stuck on me that the therapist use to make sure the positioning is exact. Then they use the prescribed therapy for the day and the machine moves and changes as set up on the computer. Before my nose has a chance to start itching I'm finished for the day. It's pretty much quick and easy.
Oh, I'm also excited to tell you that my hair is growing back. Enough so, that the family has given me permission to be seen outside the house without a scarf. Most exciting for me though is that the dark hair growth is now out pacing the white hair. Strange isn't it, how the white hair grew in first. But, no red hair or anything else unusual. I have a feeling that I'll look just the same as I did before once it gets out a few inches.
Lastly, and I almost forgot this most important news, I visited the chemo oncologist a couple weeks ago. She will continue to be my main doctor for treatment and follow ups. She was pleased to tell me that the cancer markers (which look for any spread of the cancer in the blood) have gone down. I don't think this doctor is the type to tell me I'm cancer free but she was very happy with these results.
Be listening for the cheers coming from our house June 3!