Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Treatment Phase 1 - Radiation

Phase 1 of treatment was a combination of chemo once a week and radiation every business day (5 days) for 7 weeks. Phase 1 of radiation started on November 6th and ended on December 22nd and I had 4 weeks off before starting Phase 2 (Chemo only - 8/7/10).

So, I have radiation treatments to my head and spine every business day. Luckily, the place that does the radiation treatments is only 15 minutes away.

The radiation is administered directly by two nurses who typically position me. They had me make three initial visits. The first of which was a consultation with the Radiology Doctor, who also teaches at Moffitt. The second of which they made a mold of my head that keeps me face-down on the table. And the third of which the power happened to go out and my spine was permanently tattooed to more accurately position my body on the table.

The treatment visits tend to last less than 15 minutes. The nurses quickly position my body for each of 4 radiation sessions (during each radiation treatment). The machine that administers the radiation looks like a fancy MRI Machine to me. When it gives radiation doses, it sounds like bacon is sizzling... I receive the same radiation dose from beginning to end, but the radiation will accumulate in my body until the last treatment. This basically means that side effects will accumulate as I approach the December 22nd final treatment.

**This point forward includes updates added April 16, 2007.**

When I received radiation to certain areas of my head, I "saw" a blue light even though my eyes were closed. I was face-down when I received radiation, even though the vast majority of people are treated face-up. I was able to rest my face on a foam triangle to support the weight of my head while I was treated.

Around Thanksgiving (11/23/06), my hair was falling out. Most of it fell out within three days. I think it was due to the radiation. I remember that I could pull out clumps of it. I expected to be bald, so it didn't bother me.

At first, I had Laura shave my head to a #4, about 1/2" long. My father said I looked like a "baby orangutan" because my hair was now sparse and somewhat wispy. I told my radiation doctor about the comment and I will never forget what he said, "I think a baby orangutan would find you strange looking..." I find that funny.

Anyhow, I had Laura shave my head completely about a week later. Radiation also took away some hair on the sides of my face, some on my neck, and the hair on my chest (about a 4" path) opposite my spine. I did not effect my eyebrows, any other facial hair, or any other hair.

About November 27th, the radiation treatments changed their focus solely to my head, and they stayed that way until the last treatment on December 22nd. They split the dosage into about 14 according to my face-down counts.

The radiation had other side effects that I may address in the future...

Updated 4/16/07
Updated 8/7/06 - some dates corrected, some text added for clarification.


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