Radiation and chemo therapy update - 8/14/2010
Well, my hair has started to fall, out, since the doctor increased my dosage of chemotherapy on July 30. I realize it is shedding to the point of no return! It falls out every time I brush, wash, or touch it. I must wear a turban and/or hat now. My trip to radiation on 8/10/2010, was the first time I wore my alternate head covering. 8/11/2010, Wednesday, was the second day that I had to wear turbans, but I am getting complements on them because they are colored to match my clothes.
Last week, on 8/5/10, the radiation machine broke down and they had to call a repair man to come work on it. He fixed it and we patients were all able to get our treatments. But I laid hands on it and prayed at end of my treatment. I thanked God for having a machine with the latest technology and for fixing it because I and the other patients rely on it so much. And I thanked him for the healing, both for myself and the other patients. Because we all come on the same day at the same time, we and our caregivers get to talk and know each. Now I lay hands on the tomotherapy machine and pray after all my daily treatments. I only have 7 more treatments left!!!!!
When I saw Dr Dragun last week I had a pleasant surprise for her. I set up my Celtic garden pictures as a slide show on my computer and had soothing Celtic music playing for her. I said it was to make up for the way we scared her with our Edgar Allen Poe gold bug shirts at my 1st OV on 7/21/10 (they reminded her of our huge Florida roaches, she is from the North). As backed up as she was due to the tomotherapy machine being out of order, she took the time to sit down and watch and to read the pictures and explanations I gave her. She said, “You are amazing. This is what Dr. Bernie Segel does, with prepared tapes and pictures, but you took it one step further and made your own pictures of things that are meaningful to you.” She said I should talk to other chemo pts and teach them how to do this. Then she made a remark to the effect that it was so nice to have a positive thinking patient!! I guess she took the time to look at my garden slide show because she needed a quiet moment in her “more-hectic- than-usual” day!! She is such a positive person! She is really giving me much more than hope; she is reconfirming the faith, belief, and truth that God is teaching me through my garden!!!!!!
On 8/6/10 I had my 5th chemo tx. Again the blood levels were way up, higher than last week! White blood cells were 4.5, 3 times the minimum of 1.5, hemoglobin was 13.2, higher than last time, and platelets were 178. Praise the Lord – He is protecting me so I can stay on the weekly chemo schedule!!!!!!
Today for my weekly visit to Dr. Dragun, I gave her a smooth river stone. You can hold it in your hand and rub it to relieve stress. She loved it!! She also told me that, because of the position of my lesions so close to vital organs (heart, lung and ribs), she cannot increase the radiation dosage high enough to get rid of them completely, but she can shrink them and decrease their activity. I learned that PET Scans not only measure the size of the tumors, but the metabolic activity as well. When it goes down, the tumor is not as active, not dividing and reproducing itself as much, which is a good sign. The she asked what kind of chemo therapy Dr. Joyce was going to do. When I told her I have my last IV chemo tomorrow and then start on oral pills, she gave a sigh of relief and said, “So he is being aggressive with you. That’s good!” My understanding is that the chemo drugs will take care of the rest of the tumor. She will do another PET Scan about a month after I finish the radiation. She also checked my skin, saying it has probably started to redden and chafe by now. She was amazed when she looked at it! “It’s fine,” she said, “not even a little redness!” Now I have utmost confidence in both of my oncologists. As I have written before, they keep up with the latest research and adjust their treatment protocols accordingly when new research comes out. They even participate in research. God led me to these doctors, so I can put my trust fully in HIM and in THEM! And, of course, when one doctor tells me, “I can’t guarantee the outcome….” I simply say to myself, “That’s Okay. God can.” I’ll repeat what I wrote when I first found out the diagnosis on June 30: “We all know what that means - More miracles for God to perform!!!!!” My body is ready for you to perform a wondrous work in it, Lord!
On 8/13/10 I went to chemo and my blood levels were the best they have ever been! All 3 of them were within normal limits for someone who is not taking chemo – the white blood cells were up to 5.11, the hemoglobin was 13.3, and the platelets were 168!!! Remember that 3 weeks ago the doctor increased my chemotherapy drug dosage. I expected to be sicker and have my blood levels go down, but the exact opposite has occurred!!!!! That’s a miracle!! The side effects have lessened. The doctor also increased my pre-treatment medication. I have not been nauseous and even my headaches are less frequent. My swallowing and choking has disappeared, thanks to my breathing exercises! I have been feeling more fatigued lately, but that is to be expected and it comes from the radiation treatment as well as the chemo drugs. So I had my 6th and last chemotherapy treatment!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!!! To celebrate, we met Dorothy and Q for lunch at Jason’s Deli, a deli that serves healthy food. We were also celebrating for Dorothy and Al, too, because they got their permanent crowns this week. The poor things have been sipping soup and eating soft foods because of their dental work for the past 3 weeks!
Something funny happened at Chemo today. I had turned down the sound to my computer last week when I showed my slides to Dr. Dragun. When I tried to set it up to listen during this, my last chemo treatment, I couldn’t get the sound to come back up. I checked all the controls, I even went into the Systems Tools control panel. All of the volumes were turned up to the highest level. The nurse came and hooked up my IV, and then I noticed the problem. The earphones were still in my lap!!!!!! “No wonder,” I said to the chemo nurse and we laughed about it. Then she said, “Don’t worry, we call that a ‘chemotherapy brain’. It happens frequently to patients on chemo”. I replied, “We call it a brain fart at my house, and you don’t have to be on chemotherapy to have one!”
Thanks you again, everybody, for your support and prayers! My new motto is going to be these 2 healing verses. One is from the Old Testament and one is from the New Testament, but they both mean the same thing, because Jesus, and therefore God, is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Jeremiah 32:27 – Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything impossible for me?
Mark 9:23 – All things are possible to him who believes.
The pictures show the tomotherapy machine by itself* and one of me in it. They cover you with a heated sheet. What looks like skylights are actually pictures on the ceiling so we patients can have pretty visual images of blue sky, green treetops, and fluffy white clouds to calm us, invoke pleasant thoughts, and fill our merry hearts with joy so our bodies can heal themselves. I realized that the sunburst stepping stone in my garden can stand for radiation treatment because radiation is a concentrated beam of rays from the sun (see picture in blog of 8/7/10, 21st Century Version of Job). During the treatment the patient hears a knocking noise. I then visualize tiny invisible workmen or miners in my lungs with hammers and chisels, carefully chiseling out the diseased cells and leaving the healthy ones.
*Picture Courtesy of 21st Century Oncology of Jacksonville, FL, brochure