Posts Tagged ‘Radiotherapy’

NED. It’s what every cancer patient hopes to have someday. It’s a friend you hope never leaves. It’s the common acronym for No Evidence of Disease, which is the definition of remission. When I was in the grips of active, virulent cancer, NED was almost too much to dream about. Now I’ve been told by two different cancer doctors on two different occasions that I am NED. I could get used to this. Please, let me be allowed to get used to this.

Today Cass and I see Dr. Tanya, the radiation oncologist. She is following up on the radiation treatments I received in October. The purpose of the appointment is to make sure that I am managing any side effects. I am. Also, she will check me for any evidence of active lymphoma. From the instant she comes in to the examination room she is obviously pleased with my visible health and quirky vitality. She expertly and carefully “feels me up”… palpating my neck and upper torso in a firm and detailed manner. She’s very happy with me. The prognosis… normal. Other than the expected scar tissue under the biopsy location everything feels like it should. Cass and I didn’t think this would mean more than a confirmation of what we already knew, but we’re both surprisingly emotional about this.

We make some happy small talk with her. I’m sure this is pleasant for her, as a person who so often has to tell people terrible news. As we get ready to leave I want to step on the scale to check my weight. In November, at the end of chemo and radiation I weighed in at 221, just one pound heavier than when I started cancer treatments. I have been worried that I have lost weight and this could be a sign that cancer is still insidiously at work somewhere inside me. I step up… and tip the scales at…. OMG… 230lbs. The doctor and Cassie both bust a gut laughing at me and Dr. Tanya’s parting words to me are “It’s really time to start exercising”. This is one of the few times I’m actually happy to see that I’m overweight.

We head to Pho Vy for lunch and then it’s back to work for both of us. The next milestone will be to hope for NED at my appointment with Dr. Sheila in March.

“Long and lean, fat and sassy. Black Lassie… the great American dog!”
Cheech and Chong.


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20th Radiation Treatment of 20
Radiation Dose Received to Date: 30.0Gy
Total Dose Prescribed: 30Gy

Today I have my final radiation treatment. Cass makes some bran muffins to bring to the VICC for the radiation techs. I didn’t think this would feel like much of a milestone but I was surprisingly emotional after the treatment was complete. It’s been five months since we first found evidence of my cancer. I’ve been through biopsy surgery, chemotherapy, uncertain test results and radiation therapy. And, after all this, we have no idea if it’s over or will ever be over. All I can say is that I still live and love and laugh. Cass stands beside me in facing the uncertainty of our future but also in appreciation of the only thing that is assured: our present.

So, the next cancer milestone will be my appointment with Dr. Sheila on November 21st. I’m sure she will be laying out what my post-treatment life looks like: checkpoints, tests, management.

November 3rd, 2008… I still live.

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19th Radiation Treatment of 20
Radiation Dose Received to Date: 28.5Gy
Total Dose Prescribed: 30Gy

I have my 19th radiation treatment at 1:30. One more to go. It’s scheduled for 12:45 on Monday afternoon.

I’m very tired today and mainly mope around. Sigh.

I’ve been having a problem with my throat and by chance I try taking a Pepcid antacid and I feel better! Nice!

Cass and I get tickets through my work for the Salmon Kings game and we are the only ones in the box. I suppose everyone else is either trick or treating or shelling out. The Kings lose 3 – 2 to Utah. Oh well.

We’re sitting in bed and Cass has made us a pizza. Yummy. TGIF.

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18th Radiation Treatment of 20
Radiation Dose Received to Date: 27.0Gy
Total Dose Prescribed: 30Gy

Last night Al, Kay, James and Sigrun come over for the last All-Radiation’s Eve of this (hopefully last) round of cancer treatments. We have grilled steaks, baked potatoes, green beans and caesar salad. Yum. For desert we all dig into a couple of packs of Tim Tams and consume tea, coffee and lots of scotch! This is living.

Today I have my 18th radiation treatment. Only two to go and then I’m done. I’m just sick of myself and the subject of my health and medical treatments. I’m going to make an effort to talk about and dwell on other subjects. There’s no end of them to consider… the world economy, the US election, local politics. Ok fine… I’m sick and tired of those subjects too. My health is by far the most important thing to me since without it hardly anything else matters. But I need to focus on other issues so I don’t go totally mental.

After my radiation treatment we drop down to the boat and run the new engine for a while. It’s very beautiful and refined. It’s quiet and clean. Everything is good about it except what we had to pay for it. But I suppose you get what you pay for.

We’re now relaxing in bed watching South Park.

“Hippies. They’re everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad.” Eric Cartman

“Don’t do drugs kids. There is a time and place for everything. It’s called college.” Chef

“Too bad drinking scotch isn’t a paying job or Kenny’s dad would be a millionaire!” Eric Cartman

“I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you’re perfectly healthy. The bad news is that you have cancer.” Terrance (of “The Terrance and Philip Show”)

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17th Radiation Treatment of 20
Radiation Dose Received to Date: 25.5Gy
Total Dose Prescribed: 30Gy

Nothing to report. This is all very boring now and going for treatment everyday really is a pain.

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16th Radiation Treatment of 20
Radiation Dose Received to Date: 24.0Gy
Total Dose Prescribed: 30Gy

I’m still very tired and find that I am having some feelings of depression… and I describe it to Cassie as being in the state of having “no will to live”. That seems extreme and isn’t meant literally. It’s meant to have humourous shock value. What I really mean is that I am in a state of fatigue and have a lack of desire for positive activity. <sigh>. Just four more radiation treatments and then I hope I will begin to slowly recover some semblance of energy and drive.

The boat is ready for a sea trial so I go out with the mechanics. Everything seems to have been done in a first-class manner. However, the prop does seem underpitched. This means that at cruising RPMs, the boat can only muster 5 knots when it should be able to cruise at 6.5 knots. It feels “weak” though I know that is not because the engine isn’t good… it’s that the prop doesn’t have the jam. However, everything works, it runs nice and cool, starts perfectly and doesn’t stall when put into forward or reverse. The workmanship and pride that the mechanics have shown with this project is really impressive. :). I hope to get an opportunity to get the prop repitched sometime in the next few weeks. The boat will need to be hauled to get this done… for at least a one hour “half lift”.

For dinner Cass makes some chicken wings. We have been experimenting with chicken wing sauces because the local stores have all stopped carrying our favourite sauce. Tonight she bakes the wings and then tosses them in an emulsion of “Louisiana” brand hot sauce and melted butter. These turn out to be FANTASTIC! Thanks Cass!

“My goal in life is to become as wonderful as my dog thinks I am.”

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” Mark Twain.

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15th Radiation Treatment of 20
Radiation Dose Received to Date: 22.5Gy
Total Dose Prescribed: 30Gy

I get up at 6am but I let Cass sleep while Otis and I patrol the neighbourhood in the dark. We get in an hour or so of work before we go for my radiation treatment (Cass and I, not Otis). I had my treatment switched from my usual unit, the “Spruce”, to the “Birch”. Techs who I don’t know push and prod me into assuming the position and then zap me with the prescribed 1.5Gy. That makes 15 treatments down. Only 5 to go.

In the car on the way home Cass and I have a “what is going to happen when all this is over” moment. We fear adjusting to the time when we are no longer fighting this disease. When you are fighting you are active. You go to appointments. Get radiated. Endure chemotherapy. When we are no longer treating or fighting it will feel so passive. We will just be watching and waiting to see if the cancer will return. Were those lumps there yesterday? Was I just hot last night or was that a symptomatic “night sweat”? Am I just tired from too much work or is this pathological fatigue? Is that biopsy scar tissue or is something growing there?

I know that being in this state is the best we can hope for. It’s infinitely better than if my cancer was unresponsive to treatment. Or I could have had horrid side effects to either the chemotherapy or the radiation. I could have got infected while my immune system was depressed and required hospitalization. I might not have had such a supportive partner so engaged and committed to my recovery. These are all the things to be thankful for. I also know that there will hopefully be times when we will “forget” about cancer. Good days when we feel well and are absorbed with our work or leisure activities. Eventually we will normalize this… eventually. But not today.

The boat is coming along. It will soon be ready for a sea trial and then it will be “all better”. If only human health could be so simple.

“I don’t like Mondays.” Brenda Ann Spencer, who fired at children playing in a school playground across the street from her home in San Diego, California. She killed two adults and injured eight children and one police officer. Spencer showed no remorse for her crime, and her full explanation for her actions was “I don’t like Mondays, this livens up the day”.

“Sometimes it pays to stay in bed on Monday, rather than spending the rest of the week debugging Monday’s code.” Dan Salomon

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