Today’s radiation appointment was a long awaited moment and a tremendous learning experience. I’ll cut to the chase and then go back and explain. Beginning June 13, I will have a daily radiation treatment for 17 days (Monday thru Friday) at the Kaiser hospital in Hollywood, with the last treatment being July 6th. These treatments will radiate the original five areas where Hodgkins was evident in my original scans, with the intent of reducing the potential of future recurrence.
Now the story. I had actually hoped radiation wouldn’t be necessary—based upon some things my oncologist had said. But today we were told by two separate radiologists, that radiation is standard for adult Hodgkins patients in stage one or two. The doctor told me today that he’s not aware of any cases when they would not radiate stage one and two Hodgkins patients in America. I’m not sure if my other doctor is just unfamiliar with radiation oncology, or if he was trying to give me some hope. But either way, it’s all good. Bottom line, if we skip radiation, we increase the chances of recurrence which would potentially mean future, more toxic forms of chemotherapy and treatment. Let’s NOT go there!
The appointment was very encouraging and the two doctors we met with very helpful. We were able to view CT scan images. I’m posting them below with the before and after cancerous areas highlighted—pretty miraculous to see that large mass basically gone! I can’t express into words what I feel when I see these images. I’m just thankful to the Lord for answering prayer. It could have gone very differently up to this point.
Late next week I will have a special CT scan in Hollywood to map out treatment points. The following week there will be another appointment for preparation, and then treatment will begin June 13th. The doctor said he wanted me to spend the next couple of weeks recovering from the recent chemo treatment. Fortunately, radiation’s side effects won’t be nearly as difficult as chemo. I will progressively become more fatigued, but not sick and dysfunctional.
Going into the appointment, my primary concern was the damage and risks that radiation poses. Part of my heart and both lungs will be “killed” by the radiation (isn’t that a lovely thought), but the long-term risks are far less than the risks of not doing radiation. I was glad to hear that the chances of those radiated areas becoming cancerous later in life are “much less” than 1%. So between chemo and radiation damage, I’m going to come out of this with a set of lungs and a heart that act a bit older than they are, but all in all, that’s not a bad price to pay to stay alive.
I am so thankful to finally be at this point of this journey. Though the last chemo treatment is still doing it’s damage, I know that a week from now that will begin to subside and I can truly begin the recovery process over the summer months. Before radiation begins we are planning to get some “celebratory” family time and hopefully this summer will include plenty of opportunity to recover from seven months of chemotherapy. Can’t wait! I feel like a well-beat-up, very old man. 🙂
The CT scan images below show areas that I colorized myself. I’m not a doctor, but the red areas are what my radiologist explained to me as the largest cancerous area. The top image is the original size in October. The lower left is the same, just a different shot. The lower right is that same mass after chemo. Big reduction! (I didn’t take the time to colorize the other cancerous areas on the first image, in case you’re wondering.) I’m not sure why I’m posting these… they were just really interesting to me, and a stark visual of answered prayer!
In other news, mornings have been pretty good the last couple days, but afternoons and evenings bring with them a wall of chemo effects. I’m just waiting this one out! I’m not sure why it changes mid-day like that. And generally I’m just really sore and weak—not complaining though. God is very, very, very good.
Thanks again for praying.