Saturday, January 25, 2014

Targeted Radiation - Zapping the Brain

Yesterday Jennifer and I went to Madison to meet with the Neurological Oncologist.

I was reminded how great UW is when it comes to treatment. The resident, specialist and nurses all took their time, answered every question we had, and made us feel comfortable in what is a stressful time.

The resident spent the most amount of time with us. He went through the scans with us and talked about the variety of treatments that have developed over the years when it comes to cancer in the brain. Radiation has radically changed over the years and has a very high success rate.

He did confirm that the cancer has moved to my brain and there is a 1.2mm spot. He talked about it being fairly big, but when the specialist said it wasn't that big when he came in. The pill I am on works very will with the cancer in most of the body, the problem is the central nervous system. There the pill is not as effective and the cancer traveled to my brain and set up shop.

They used to do only all brain radiation, but now that is not the norm when there is only one spot. Now they do Radiosurgery when is a very targeted type of radiation with a very heavy dose.

During this time they went over my eye issues as well and they are stumped. There is no reason for the eyes to have double vision, so I will be meeting with another doctor to get prisms in my glasses as they try to figure the eye stuff out.

So, the process I will be going through it not as intense as when I had surgery to remove part of my lung, but not as simple as the other radiation I have done.

Next Saturday I will be having another MRI. The one in Beloit was not as detailed as the doctor likes, so I need one with 1mm slices of the brain.

Then, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 5, I will go through the radiosurgery process. In the morning we will go to Madison and I will have a frame attached to my head. It will be screwed on, but supposedly all I will feel is a little pressure. I will then spend time in a hospital room with the frame on like a crown as they prep for the procedure.

Then they will be doing a CT scan which they will combine with the MRI and find the exact point to radiate. After they are set I will spend an hour or so bolted to a radiation table where they will be zapping this tumor from a variety of angles. During this time I will be some meds to keep me calm.

After the radiation I will have the frame removed, then I can go home. It is a one day procedure. The next day I may have a dull headache but that is about it.I will also have follow-up MRIs and PET scans to make sure that they got it.

A lot has happened very fast. I have been reminded, again, that there is a blessing here. The cancer is in a place where the symptoms should be motor function problems, and I don't have any of those. They found the spot because of something totally unrelated, like when they first found the cancer. The Spirit is blowing, and I am blessed that they found it.

There is something they can do, and that is a blessing as well. As the specialist told us, if this happened 10 years ago, I wouldn't be here. The treatments have come so far in a short time. And I know that there will be more breakthroughs as we move forward.

I do have to admit that there are times I am very frustrated, angry, and depressed that the cancer has come back. Once again, I thought we had this licked, at least for awhile longer, and I never expected it to go to the brain. But even more frustrating is the double vision and no answer for it.

But even in all of those down times I know I am blessed because there is something that can be done. So go about my daily life, celebrating what I have, doing the work I love, and preparing for the next steps that I need to take.

Prayers are always welcome, I will post more as things develop.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So...I get to have my brain zapped


So once again I have a health update for everyone via my blog.

I have to admit, I am getting tired of this, but it is what is happening right now.

So a couple of months ago I started to get some double vision. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I saw two eye doctors and the general thought was that I needed prisms for my glasses. I tried it, and it didn't work. So back to the eye docs for more tests.

Two weeks ago we discovered a build up of fluid behind my eye. It was believed that there was some scar tissue that built up there from when the cancer was behind my eye. That scar tissue was not letting the fluid drain, and so I got a build up of fluid that affected my vision.

So to fix this I had a shot in my eyeball, which was a treat let me tell you. The thought was after one week everything would be back to normal.

It wasn't.

So last Friday I had a regular appointment with my primary doctor, the one who discovered the cancer the first time. As we sat and talked she saw that my right eye was drooping. This was a sign for more tests and a meeting with the neurologist.

They got me in right away. He ran a few little tests, the had some blood drawn and scheduled me for an MRI.

With my fear of tight spaces, I was really not looking forward to that. But hey, you do what the doctors say.

So Monday morning I took my happy pills and went and had the MRI. The vision was still bad, but I was hoping for something.

I almost forgot - two weeks ago I had a PET Scan and everything was clean.

So today Jennifer and I went in to get the results of the MRI. Turns out I have a 1.2 centimeter spot on my cerebellum. It appears to be the cancer that has returned in the brain. The PET scan didn't get it because PET scans don't work on the brain.

But, this spot doesn't seem to be the cause of my eye issues. So I still have my double vision and no known reason for it.

We then went to see my radiation oncologist. He had been in touch with the lung cancer specialist in Madison. She has seen two or three cases like mine where the pill is working well in all of the body except the brain.

So the next step is to meet with a specialist in Madison. I will probably have a special type of radiation that focuses on this one spot. It is a one shot deal. They will go in on one day and blow up the spot. That should take care of it.

I will also have an appointment with my eye doctor in Madison to see if we can figure out what is going on with the double vision. I don't really like wearing my pirate patch.

Hopefully the radiation will take care of everything. They will do follow up MRIs but this is only one spot so they are very hopeful.

As always, prayers are appreciated.