Moving Along to Plan B

While my body is recovering from its anemia, we’re moving along in treatment to Plan B, which is receiving radiation therapy for a small mass that’s popped up near critical motor centers in the cerebellum. It’s extremely tiny and we found it just by happenstance. Tomorrow I’ll start a series of short radiation treatments combined with taking the hormone tamoxifen for everything below the blood brain barrier. Since my tumor markers were so good, I have great hopes for this new series of treatments. Most chemo cannot penetrate to the brain itself, so when you find little things like this it is best to address them with radiation. Radiation has now got a 100 year history and has advanced significantly as a treatment for cancer.

This story would be too long to tell in all its detail, but what started out as a lunch trip to the mall on Thursday turned into a dizzying experience, winding up with a trip to the ER, admission to the hospital, a blood transfusion (which was badly needed IMHO), and meeting with my doctors — and some new doctors — resulting in a few more tests and a release home with a clear slate from the vertigo/nausea event of last week. I’ve never spent much time in hospitals and I’m here to tell you, hope I never have to again!

In spite of the hard work of the nurses, much of the labor of patient care is now involved with a series of steps that adds much to the costs of such visits. I am very clear now on what needs to be done to overhaul the system (which we really don’t have), and would not wish a hospital stay, no matter how nice the staff, on my worst enemy.

Lucky for me the Drip Factory has a Death Ray Room with my very own Dr. M*ng the M*erciless — a doc about my own age with 30 years experience that I like very much. He’s also very hip to the infighting games between hospitalists here in our small town, and to my request this morning  of “Get ME OUT OF Here”, he had all accomplished by 2 pm, while saving everyone’s ego. Here the story must end, because everyone is really a good person, and there is no point in continuing on with Plan C when Plan B is now in effect.

Update 1 – 7/21/09 First external beam radiation therapy done today. Painless, quick. Machine used was a Varian 2300 with bells and whistles. I like it. I shoulda told the tech to reload the photons for tomorrow (just kidding).  Plan B updates will be done over  the coming days as updates here. If something significant happens I’ll write a new post, but for now, it’s just lock and load.

Update 2 – 7/22/09 Second treatment today, I’m feeling a bit less disheveled from the hospital experience and a bit more like myself — the hubster and I are still resting and trying to get some food down, but we’re tired, and not young anymore! My sister-in-law, whose on her third year of tamoxifen treatment herself, advises that no one else truly counts in this process save for the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist at this point. She’s right. I had the distinct pleasure this afternoon of speaking to both these favorite people in my medical world — and giving them their new nicknames: my medical oncologist is Flash Gordon and my radiation oncologist is M*ng the M*rciless. Flash Gordon in the 21st century, he quipped, and yep that’s it — this is the 21st century — save for the equipment in that man’s office — the rest of the world doesn’t exist for me right now. I’m in love with that Varian. If I were younger I’d have pursued a career as a medical physicist in this exciting field. Being an old geezer now, it’s who the hell do I donate my very expensive library of books on biological medicine and quantum medicine I used in my own career up to two years ago, and I think I know exactly who that person is going to be.  Here’s the schtick: In any situation in life, on any given day, you either live or die, survive or not. I may not survive this experience or I may live to see more time, I can’t predict the future. Guys like Flash and M*ng don’t come by anymore, the world is dumbed down beyond belief in this excuse for a banana republic we’re living in — so when you meet people like this, who build organizations like this, and do healing like this, you want to leave the good books to them. They have a “physics department” and a medical physicist who comes down to check on the stuff, awesome staff, and are complete jewels in terms of who they help and what they are doing. Here in the heart of green country, there is a world that really does represent Flash Gordon in the 21st Century.And that’s the joke — it really is the 21st century, and we’re no longer sending rockets to the moon. Things have changed since my time in the brilliance of the space race, in running my own clinic, in persuing the careers, writing the books, doing the research, it will never be the same again. Now, my future time on this planet may be in days or years, but it will most likely be spent in a floating home on a river in Portland, Oregon, taking care of my wonderful husband. Relaxing. Painting, and cooking. Disability takes it toll on us all eventually. Cancer trumps everything.

NP Deb came back today as well, her presence has been sorely missed, but she survived her vacation and is prepping for boards 8/7. We wish her all the best of luck. Deb is one of those exceptional people who has both intelligence and character to reach and communicate with patients. She’s a rare one, our Deb is, and if she reads this, she’ll know how much we truly appreciate her!

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