Time for Action

The tumor inside my body has been more aggressive than I had hoped it would be so it was time to get busy taking control of it. Now, with a new doctor and a new plan, I was ready to take on the challenge.

The Plan

My doctors are using a multifaceted approach to my treatments.

First, I will have 25 radiation treatments that will be done every day except for weekends, Christmas, and New Year’s day. It looks like I will be finished with this part of my treatment regimen around January 17, 2013.

Second, during the radiation process, I will also have 4 Rituxan treatments that will be done weekly (Blood tests will be run just before each treatment). The Rituxan treatments will also be completed around January 17, 2013.

Preparations for Radiation

  1. December 3, 2012 – I got up-to-date PET-CT scans as a baseline for the new treatment regimen
  2. December 5, 2012 – I had the Radiation Simulation process completed to get me ready for treatments. During that visit the new scans were evaluated and I was shown how large the tumor had grown over the last 90 days. Now it is real close to my kidney so I must have an additional test before I can get started. (Thankfully they got me in for the test without having to wait a week or two!)
  3. December 7, 20012 – I had the Kidney function test. This is to make sure both of my kidneys are functioning in case something unexpected happens during radiation.

Radiation — The Tools

My Oncology Radiologist’s nurse explained to me that I will be treated with radiation using a Varian Medical Systems TrueBeam system (external beam, linear accelerator, X-Ray). To learn more about this system please visit: Varian

Radiation — The Process

After seeing the Radiation Oncologist for a consultation the next thing that is done is called a simulation process that makes it possible to treat the exact target area on my body for each treatment.

Part of the simulation process is to tattoo several microscopic spots on my body that will be used to align me in the machine. In addition, the technicians also create a special mold for my legs that help get my body aligned in the exact position for each treatment.

All that’s left for me to do for a treatment is to show up, lay down on the table, let the technicians place the mold under my legs, then use the tattoos to line me up according to the plan.

When I am in place the technician leaves the room that houses the machine and starts the process to treat the target area. All of this just takes a few minutes.

Radiation & Rituxan Treatments Begin

When you hear that the treatments will be done every day except weekends and holidays it doesn’t sound very difficult. The most difficult part of the grueling schedule is to get to the radiation treatment center, wait for my turn in the machine, then travel back home when the very short process is completed. The actual radiation treatment, including the setup process, only takes about 15 minutes. Here, take a look at this month’s schedule so you can see how busy it kept us:

  1. December 12, 2012 – Radiation # 1
  2. December 13, 2012 – Radiation # 2 & Rituxan # 1
  3. December 14, 2012 – Radiation # 3
  4. December 17, 2012 – Radiation # 4
  5. December 18, 2012 – Radiation # 5
  6. December 19, 2012 – Radiation # 6
  7. December 20, 2012 – Radiation # 7 & Rituxan # 2
  8. December 21, 2012 – Radiation # 8
  9. December 24, 2012 – Radiation # 9
  10. December 26, 2012 – Radiation # 10
  11. December 27, 2012 – Radiation # 11 & Rituxan # 3
  12. December 28, 2012 – Radiation # 12
  13. December 31, 2012 – Radiation # 13

One other thing I forgot to mention: This schedule included my wife taking me to the early morning treatments because I couldn’t drive. She waited for me during the radiation treatments to take me home or to drop me off at the cancer center when I was scheduled for a Rituxan treatment.

When I had to be at the cancer center and the Rituxan treatments were finished she had to leave work, come to the cancer center to pick me up, and drop me off at home. We did have my uncle Gary pick me up when he was available, which helped a lot.

By the way: There is more to this story in January, 2013.