Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Radiation? Again?

Wow - it's been over 2 weeks since my last post. I'm sure you are sick of me apologizing and then not changing my ways but honestly I am trying and will continue to try.

So let me bring you up to date on all that has happened since last post. I was in the hospital when I wrote you, in the middle of brachytherapy. The following morning, which was a Friday, I had my 3rd and final treatment. The treatments themselves were very quick, only a few minutes. I was hooked up to a machine which fed a wire through the plastic catheter (remember - the one hanging out of my nose) until it was in the precise location of the tumor. Then radiation was applied through the wire while it moved a few millimeters at a time. Once done, the machine pulled the wire back out of the catheter. Kind of spooky having a machine with no one operating it shoving a wire in and out of my nose but the treatments all went well. After the last one the doc removed the catheter by grabbing hold and pulling it out. A couple seconds of discomfort but much easier than the surgery required to install it.
But the real bomb was dropped on me after the catheter was out; that's when the doc informed me that he now wanted to do a course of standard external radiation. Wait a minute here! Didn't we do the brachytherapy because I have already received the maximum amount of external radiation to this area? That is when I got an extended explanation (in halting English with a heavy Chinese accent) about how I have an area of tumor in the same bronchial tube that was hidden by the original tumor on the scans and he just discovered it by using a camera through the bronchoscope during the installation of my catheter. He said he had a small window to work with through which he could give me external radiation. Great! Now I have another procedure that will put my starting Nexavar back an additional month. After answering a few more of my questions he handed me a slip of paper with my first appointment on it, scheduled for 2 weeks later. I said thanks but I really need to think about this a little. But then something really good happened on that Friday - I was out of the hospital well before 10am! A minor miracle happened!

Since the brachytherapy I have coughed up zero blood which tells me that this was the right thing to do. Finally - I was past this hurdle. I had an appointment with my oncologist last week. I have probably explained this before but my oncologist is really the quarterback of my treatments, he directs what needs to be done and I rely on him to answer my questions and help me make decisions about my care. So we spent considerable time talking about whether or not to go ahead with this radiation. I hate it when they say "the decision is yours" but that is ultimately what he said. My point is that we have been trying for months to get me back on Nexavar and we were finally at a point where it made some sense to do that because the drug should shrink the tumor just like radiation should. He said that was a valid point and he would not argue if that is what I decided BUT that my tumors have shown to be very radio-responsive (that means that radiation works very well on them) and that the more conservative approach would be to do the radiation first because it would have a more permanent effect than Nexavar would. So I reluctantly decided on doing the radiation first. The good news is that I will only need 8 treatments, the bad news is that I need to wait at least 2 weeks after the last treatment before starting my drug therapy. I had my first treatment last Thursday and will have my last one June 1st, so that means I am looking at about mid-June for starting Nexavar, almost 7 months after stopping it last November. Let's keep our fingers crossed that nothing else pops up between now and then!

Had enough of all this medical talk? Me too - let's move on to the fun stuff I've been doing. Actually not a whole lot. But I did get to go to the Milwaukee Public Museum to see their display on the Dead Sea Scrolls, a very interesting exhibit! These are ancient scrolls, dating from about 100 BC to 100 AD, that were discovered in caves near the Dead Sea about 1947. Most of these scrolls had deteriorated to fragments so translating and interpreting them has been a major project. The best way I have of describing these scrolls is they were a precursor to the Bible, describing the events of that time period as well as earlier times. If you have an interest in this portion of history and have opportunity to see this exhibit, I would recommend it. The Milwaukee display closes June 6th so move fast if you want to see it here!

Side note - even our calendar has become politically correct. BC has now become BCE and AD becomes CE. So instead of "Before Christ" we have "Before the Common Era" and instead of "Anno Domini" (the year of Our Lord) we have the "Common Era". So even though we all follow a calendar designed by a Christian (Pope Gregory) we now have to remove any reference to religion from these designations. Sometimes I really hate people! I don't know which people I'm hating now - but I'm sure I can track them down.

So now that I have raised my blood pressure I better cut this posting off. Thanks for staying with me - I'll be back to you sooner next time. I promise!

Be Well - Be Blessed!


  1. I have never thought of us as common.

  2. I finally caught up with your blog. Wow, It amazes me how you keep going! God has plans for you, He had been with you through out this all, and I pray everyday you are healed from this terrible disease.You are an inspiration to so many people Ken, God bless you ! BB