Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thirty-three down.

Rang the bell

Today was my last radiation treatment! While time has dragged it's also gone by very quickly, if that makes sense. Thirty-three days of driving up the "express" way in bumper to bumper traffic, of being bolted down to a metal table and having high intensity radiation beams aimed at my head all in hopes of killing off every last tumor cell that might have been lurking in my brain. For the last forty-seven days I have also been taking daily chemo. Tomorrow I am looking forward to sleeping in, not having any med alarms set and eating breakfast when I wake up. My chemo had to be taken on an empty stomach (no eating for two hours before) and one hour before radiation so I usually didn't eat anything until my granola bar on the ride home. For most people who experience loss of appetite during chemoradiation this probably isn't a problem but my appetite stayed strong and I am someone who needs to eat first thing in the morning so I am glad to be done with that.

Really I have been absolutely blessed with a completely smooth course. I experienced none of the side effects they told me I would, never had to go on steroids and was able to keep up with my "C25K" training. There is still a chance over the next week or so that I could have some late effects but I'm hoping since everything has gone so well that I won't.

"Ring this bell three times well, it's toll will
clearly say, my treatments are done, this course
has run, and now I'm on my way"
Now I have a confession. I didn't shave my head. I was all set and ready to but when it came down to it, I can hide the bald fairly easily with a headband so I figure I'll give that a try for a while. If it drives me crazy I could still shave it, it will likely be anywhere from one to six months before it even starts growing in again so I'll just have to see how it goes. I am including some pictures of what my hair loss looks like because before I had radiation I tried to prepare by looking for pictures. While every person's hair loss is different these pictures might help someone else prepare. Just know that I am going to be wearing a lot of headbands, scarves and hats for the next few months.


 My plan now is to hang around here another week and a half, through Thanksgiving, and if all goes well then I'll drive back to Virginia that Saturday. I hope to get back to work as soon as possible. I will have my next MRI December 19th, one month from today. Then we will plan out the next part of treatment. That MRI will become my new baseline to compare all future MRI's to and will likely show residual scarring from now two surgeries as well as radiation. The plan right now as I know it is to continue with monthly chemo for at minimum six months but could be longer. It will be the same chemo I've been on but a higher dose and I will take it five days a month. Since I've done so well with the low dose I'm hoping any reaction to the higher dose is minimal.
I am extremely happy that this part of the challenge is now over. While I know this tumor is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life I try not to let it dictate my life. I will do whatever I have to do to keep it from coming back, to make sure we catch it early if it does but I refuse to let it have any higher influence than that. It doesn't deserve to consume my time with worry, fear or stress.
Life is too short for that.




**ps: if you haven't, please read the blog post right before this one regarding my friend who is setting up a soup kitchen in his home village in the Philippines**

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Non Tumor Related Post

I think I've said it before but I'll say it again. I work with a fabulous group of people and between the NICU & the CICU I have worked with many great nurses who came here from the Philippines. The recent devastation to their home is incomprehensible. One of those nurses has a plan to help. He is headed home to the village where he grew up to start a soup kitchen with plans to feed around 800 people a day. Many of them will be children. They will feed people for as long as they can and to do so requires our help. Please consider taking a moment to look at his webpage and donate. It doesn't need to be much, $5-$10 can go so far for them.

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