Friday, August 20, 2010

Radiation and Continuing Ministry

This week I completed my first full week of radiation. Overall it went very well, and the nurses love to have Sierra come up with me and talk to her while I am getting zapped. I have started to discover what "cumulative side effects" are as well. The first one has started to appear, if only a little bit. Since they are shooting the radiation directly over my throat, I am starting to feel it a little bit, esp. when I eat. This was expected, and on Thursday the doctor told me to increase the amount of calories I take in (nave had a doc tell me that before:) because in a few weeks I will probably be at a negative when it comes to calories and the amount I burn. I am preparing to eat lots of soup and milk shakes soon.

But as I came in to work today, I was also reminded about how life, and ministry, go on in the midst of these treatments. We were preparing for the Lunch Ministry when I got here. Today, in just under 40 minutes, we ran out of sandwiches, serving 100 people in that short time. There are people who show up 30 minutes early just to have some fellowship and talk with others, many of whom this si the only interaction with other people that they have all day.

The more I go through these treatments, the more blessed I feel. I feel blessed because I am part of a congregation who is motivated to serve those in need. I am blessed because I can keep doing what I am called to do - reaching out with the love of Christ to all I come in contact with. I am blessed because I have a medical team who is doing everything they can to make sure I can do these ministries as long as possible.

Being able to see the blessings always helps me to focus on the positive things that are happening in my life, and in the community I am a part of. Today, I pray that you may see the multitude of blessings that surround you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


On Wednesday I started the third leg of my treatment - radiation. So far it was been the simplest part as well, but I know that will change in a few weeks.

I will be have at least 25 sessions of radiation. They take place every weekday and last about 10-15 minutes. The first session was the longest, a little over an hour, because they had to shoot a few x-rays to make sure they were aiming the radiation in the right place. I told them to take their time and get it right.

There is a possibility that I will need an extra 3-5 sessions at the end. The doctor said that this might happen because when the surgeon cut out the tumor there was no cancer in the bronchial tubes, but there was some in the fleshy tissue surrounding those tubes. So the extra sessions would be done just to focus on that area in particular. It will not be decided until the last week of radiation and seeing how well I am holding up to the side effects.

Side effects should start kicking in next week. He told me that radiation is cumulative, so the effects are not felt right away. By next week he said I may start to feel a little run down and tired, this will continue until 3-4 weeks after radiation. He also said that since they are shoot quite close to the esophagus, there is a strong chance that I might feel the esophagus constrict a little and have to eat a lot of soft foods during the last few weeks of radiation and for 304 weeks afterward. Luckily I am big fan of soup and ice cream!

The staff at the radiation center is great. I have had to take Sierra with me and they have taken care of her wonderfully as well. So far, everything is going very well and I am still quite hopefully that all of this will do what it is supposed to and we will wipe this stuff out.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A for Effort

Today I did my second meeting with the radiation team that I will be working with and learned more about radiation as well as demonstrated an amazing showing of enthusiasm.

I had a CT Scan so that the doctor could figure out the exact areas that he wants to shoot the radiation. During this time they also pulled out a wonderful Sharpie and made marks on my chest, which they then covered with tape, so that they could line me up the same way when I come in for treatments. I had heard from some who had this in the past that they actually tattooed people, but luckily I did not need to have that happen. The only painful part will be taking the tape off next week.

We proceeded with the scan, then I got my schedule. I will be starting next Wednesday and follow up with 30 sessions. Each session takes about 10 minutes and I will be doing them daily at 8:30 in the morning, what a great way to start the day!

After that the doctor wanted me to have a breathing test. Here is where I got my A for Effort.

When they came to give me the test, they had me stand, put a breathing device in my mouth, and look at a screen of bricks. The goal was to blow down as many bricks as possible. So I did. I pushed out the initial breath of air and I kept blowing and blowing and blowing ... until I passed out.

I cam to a second later with three techs trying to get me into the chair. My first words were, "Did I blow down enough bricks?"

Needless to say, the rest of the test was done with me sitting and them telling me, quite forcefully, when to inhale a second time.

All the joys of medicine :)

Tomorrow I head off to the Cities to celebrate the end of my chemo. I will be back on Sunday evening.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Radiation Schedule

Today Jennifer and I met with the radiation team who I will be working with next with this whole process. They seem like some great people and the doctor was extremely personable. It turns out that Jennifer and I went to seminary with his niece as well, so that was a nice connection.

On Wednesday I will be going back to get everything lined out as to where they will be doing the radiation. They will be doing a CT Scan and marking the areas that they want to focus on. According to the doctor, they will be focusing on the lymph node areas, since the main tumor was taken out and the lymph nodes are of the most concern. The hope is that the nodes that were left as all clean now, but instead of taking any chances they will use the radiation on them.

Then I am going to go to the Twin Cities for a few days. I am going to meet with a few friends and celebrate the end of chemo. I will be back on Sunday night.

The following week is when I will start radiation. It looks like I will have about 30 sessions. Sessions take place daily and last 10-15 minutes. The side effects seem quite minimal compared to radiation, but it is also cumulative, so it will not really be felt until half way through the process.

With 30 sessions, this will take about 6 weeks to complete, so I should be all done with treatments by the end of September (something I am really looking forward to). I was encouraged by this appointment and I am looking forward to start this process, mainly so that I can get done with all the treatments.

All for now.