Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Change of Plans

Last week consisted of a gauntlet of tests including a PET, CT, Bone Scan, and 2.5 hours inside a high frequency MRI machine.  The scans went smoothly expect for the MRI.  My previous MRIs were in a normal machine, and I was so comfortable in it that I was able to nap.  I could definitely feel the "high frequency" as I proceeded to sweat through all my clothes as they imaged my spine and pelvis.  The tech running the machine was really nice and tried to make me as comfortable as possible by turning up the fan and giving me a cold, wet washcloth.  I asked him if it was the machine heating up or me heating up (like a potato in a microwave), and his reply was "Both".  Luckily, I had some Bogart's BBQ waiting for me when I was done which greatly assisted my recovery.

I didn't end up hearing any of the scan results until my Friday morning meeting with Van Tine.  He explained that the PET scan showed no activity in my metastatic tumors and a 50% activity reduction in my primary chest tumor.  This was very good news since no metabolic activity in my vertebral and pelvic tumors means that they are likely dead.  I'm not exactly sure what the activity reduction in my chest mass means since it was the same size physically, but it appears to be good news too.  My CT and MRI results confirmed these results as well.  My bone scan showed that I do not have any fractures.

Originally, the plan going forth was to keep my surgery date on June 10th and follow with radiation.  However, the plan changed abruptly once Van Tine was able to get a hold of Dr. Crabtree (my thoracic surgeon) on his Alaskan cruise vacation.  The issue is that the margins of normal tissue around my tumors are not very big and would be difficult to work around to ensure they got the entire tumor during surgery.  So with the original plan, the surgeons would have to do they best they could to get it all out and then use radiation to clean up any areas they couldn't get out.  However, Crabtree isn't concerned about operating after radiation since he does it all the time unlike many surgeons.  Because of all of this, they decided to do radiation first and then surgery.  Several people have asked me if this is good or bad, but it is really neither.  It would have been better if my primary tumor would have shrank, but things could always be better.

Once I was filled in on the changes, the doctors wanted me to get set up right away for radiation.  So Friday morning, I got a styrofoam mold made from my butt all the way up to my head so that I will lay in the same position every time during radiation.  The nurses also drew lines on me to help maintain this exact position as well.  My first treatment is June 14th since they have to do a bunch of math to figure out exactly how they are going to get radiation to my tumors and get as little to my normal tissue as possible.  In the mean time, I'm trying to get some things done in lab and live as normally as possible.    

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