Setting Phasers on Stun October 19, 2013

Friends and Family,

I told you that things were going to be boring here for a while, but my oncologist had something else in mind. He had hoped that the Tarceva would shrink the cancer that had spread to my bones, but based on pain level there has been no change in the cancer in the bones over the last five months. He recommended radiation treatment in my hips to kill the pain so that I can walk more than 3-4 blocks. After treatment l should also be able to stand for longer periods of time. I can’t wait to get back to running around the gym, chasing countless missed baskets, climbing stairs, and walking without restrictions!

Two weeks of radiation treatment starts next Thursday. Hopefully, the only symptom will be a little fatigue towards the end of the two weeks, although some other minor ones are possible.

While discussing the treatment plan with us, the radiologist showed Genevieve and me the bone scan done in the Spring. Even though we read the written report months ago, the actual images shook us both up. My skeleton looked like it had leopard spots, most heavily in my hips and lower back. Those spots are where the cancer has taken hold in my bones. That was a lot to take in.

It took both of us a few days to shake off those images. I finally got there when I remembered that we were looking at a scan that was five months old. I have been doing just fine during all that time that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be doing this well. Better yet, it doesn’t seem to have gotten any worse.

The radiologist told us that the goal of radiation treatment would be symptom relief. It will kill the cancer, but only in the areas where they target. Since it’s spread throughout my system, radiation can’t get it all. With that in mind, we’re just going to have to stun this cancer enough so that I can go to the gym, stay healthy enough to fight for another day, and keep having fun!

There’s a part of me that is fascinated by the technical side of all of this. I was put on a carbon fiber rolling table that the team slid into a CT machine. The reason for carbon fiber? Radiation beams will come at my hips from 360 degrees. Some of the beams will come from below the table and pass right through the carbon fiber.

After taking new CT images, they put a small tattoo on both of my hips and just below my stomach. The three tattoos will be tracked by laser to use as reference points for where to aim the radiation. I’ve been inked! I’m finally a true Oregonian! Now, when I’m around people talking about their “tats”, I’ll have to restrain myself from saying, “You wanna see mine?”

They also made a plastic mold for my legs, so that every time I come in I will be in exactly the same position. I’m relieved about this part…. I want them to be verrrry careful with their aim down there.

We got a new perspective on the entire situation from the radiologist. She said that I was very fortunate that the cancer in my lower back is on the outside of my vertebra, away from the spinal cord. If it had been the inside, against my spinal cord, I would be dealing with a ton of back pain. I dodged yet another bullet!

At separate times both the radiologist and her resident told us that it was remarkable that I am still alive, seven years after first being diagnosed. Again, this reminds me of how fortunate I am. Where else in the world could I have access to this cutting edge level of care? Without it, I wouldn’t still be here.

I am grateful that insurance has been available to me, and that it will very soon be available to others. Not to get too political here, but I’m very happy that this is now changing on a national level. We all deserve the chance to live, not just the lucky ones who can afford insurance.

Of course, your support and my own attitude have helped a lot!

We have every tool possible available to beat this thing. With all this medical help, and with your support, I plan to stun this cancer into submission until we have a complete cure.

As long as the current path keeps working, I’m patient. I don’t mind waiting. :-)

With love and gratitude,