Friday, August 7, 2009

“Clever liars give details, but the cleverest don't.”

Many people wanted to hear a little more detail about how the treatment actually works. So here's the story. First off, my "freighbor" and my friend "K-Mac" helped me organize all the medications I need to take throughout the treatment. Unlike many chemo situations that require delivery by pump at a hospital, my chemo is actually a pill. Well, in this case, two pills, since I need 145 mg and they only sell 140 and 5. Yum. So I only need to head out for the radiation treatment and a weekly blood test. The medication has lots of potential side-effects, but I'll hold off on those until they kick in.

As for the radiation treatment, Kaiser developed a new facility in South City. Each patient is assigned to a "team", which is to say, two technicians and one particular room with some pretty amazing equipment. What warms my heart the most is that each team has a name based on some location high in the Sierra. I'm on "Team Tahoe", the same place that my freighbor's dad and step-mom live. It's also where I happened to be the weekend before my surgery.

Now that I'm on a specific schedule (9:15 am every day except weekends and holidays), I head to the clinic, check in, and walk into the back until one of the techs finds me. The radiation machine is pretty big and impressive. There is a hard "couch" that I lay on, and they fasten down my head with a mesh grid mask that they shaped to my face last week. The machine is able to take x-rays and also fire the required radiation for treatment. Right now they are still taking x-rays to make sure the alignment of my head with the planned treatment path remains accurate. There are several beams of radiation intersecting at the internal locations where there might be remaining tumor. This keeps the intensity low in the healthy parts of my body, but increases it dramatically where things need to be fried. The entire process takes about 15 or 20 minutes, and then I leave. Not quite enough time to nap, but they do have some nice jazz tunes playing in the background. I also found out that one of my techs is totally into hot rods, and she is getting an old '67 (or so) Mustang from one of her patients.

And no, I haven't yet asked what specific radiation I'm being blasted with or how big the beams are. But I will....


  1. Come back to work when I'm not out in field so I can give you a healthy dose of insults and fit the beam combiner into your head..

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  3. Taking an uneducated guess, I bet it's gamma radiation. Which got me I the only one to notice the similarity?

    Oh crap, I can't post images, but trust me, you'll get my point.

    Eric Before
    Eric After