Saturday, June 15, 2013

Radiation times 3

This Tuesday, I started my first day of radiation.  I checked it using a scannable ID card, waited for my name to be called, and headed back to the room.  The room is pretty large with a narrow bed that slides back and forth with an unattached, huge, looming radiation machine directly behind it.  It is about the size of a building's backup generator with three arms that come up from it and spin around me at different angles.  After laying in my mold, the techs got my marked body lined up with the lasers after various twists and pulls on the sheet I was laying on.  They closed the two foot wide door as they left, and the machine started up.  First, they take a series of CT scans to make sure I'm in the right position.  Then, they start the radiation which is one of the heads with two rows of lead teeth that open and close continuously to form various shapes and give accuracy to where they're delivering the radiation dose.  It goes smoothly and fairly quietly except for the buzzing sound produced when they release the radiation.  I've gotten fairly accustomed to it by Friday, and was mostly asleep for most of it.  The time in treatment has been slowly increasing since we started with just my chest, added my pelvis once that math was figured out, and will start on my femur next week.

The femur was a mostly unexpected surprise.  As I said last post, I had some bad pain in my knee/thigh that lasted the weekend, but went away on Monday.  I ended up getting some CT's done Wed which included my leg.  The radiologists didn't see anything on the CT or X-ray from last week, but there appears to be something on my femur looking back at my bone scans and MRI.  They think it is/was a metastasis that was there the whole time, but didn't get picked up on the PET scan due to background coverup from my bone marrow.  Since it might be something, and adding radiation to this area wouldn't up my side affects by a significant margin, they decided to start radiation on it too.  It was scary to hear about a potential new spot, but at least this potential new spot is really an old spot.  I'm sure I have plenty of very little microscopic dots of cancer I don't know about, but radiation and chemo should get them.  Especially after I'm done with 13 more rounds of chemo (knock on wood).

To finish this week's story, the reason I went in for the scans on Wed was due to some of the worst pain of my life on Tues night.  I took as many pain meds as I could, iced my back, transitioned between 4 different possibilities of sleeping places, but nothing helped.  We called the emergency number around 4 am or so, but the said the only thing I could do was go in for IV narcotics if I thought I needed them.  I decided to stay since I was starting to calm down and relax a bit with Anna getting cold washcloths for me and helping me cool down mentally as well.  We spent most of the next day in the hospital waiting for my turn on the machines, and waiting for doctors.  They think the radiation caused my tumor to temporarily swell, put pressure on nerves, and give me so much pain.  They upped my pain meds and steroids again, which has helped me get back to usual the last two days.

On a bit of good news, I was able to finish up a figure for a paper I'm collaborating on, and the primary group's authors all said my pictures were beautiful and more than they were expecting.  Now we just have to see how their last rounds of experiments go.  Then it'll be resubmitted to see the editors think it's as good as we do.

To remind everyone what the current long term plan is, I'll be receiving radiation Mon to Fri for 6 weeks, likely followed by 3 weeks of recovery, and will likely be followed by surgery.  My treatment schedule changes like the weather some weeks, so, as always, I'll keep you informed. 


  1. Ouch. Hang in there. Congrats on the potential publication!

  2. Yikes! that's horrible that you had so much pain, hope they can keep it down! Keeping you in my prayers!