Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Radiation Reprieve

I am, apparently, a complex case for radiation. They thought I might start last week, but it turned out that they had to do a lot more programming and thinking about what to do for my radiation treatments. This is due to the fact that they are radiating an area that has already had radiation and they want to minimize the damage and also because I have tissue expanders.

So, I will be getting a treatment called "IMRT", which stands for "intensity modulated radiation therapy". Apparently, they can program the machine to give different doses of radiation to different areas with the same beam. So, one area will get more and one will get less. I think. Here's a news report about it:


Clear as mud, huh? The bottom line is that they hope to give less radiation to "critical structures" - the liver, the lungs, and the port for the tissue expansion.

I threw them a loop, today, though. I have a 2-day symposium in Portland next week and so would miss three days of radiation in one week. So, they decided to delay radiation treatments until June 2. The rationale is as follows: when giving radiation, they think that only a certain percentage of the cancer cells actually die, like maybe 50%. So, if I have a 100 million cancer cells, one radiation treatment only kills 50 million. Then, rather than allow the cells that are left to multiply, they give you radiation the very next day. That'll reduce the cells by 50% again (give or take because a few have probably multiplied) the next day so that you have only 25 million. And, so on and so on until hopefully, you've killed enough of the cancer and it can't multiply anymore. Taking a few days off actually allows the cells that are left to multiply and then you might be back at square one.

Okay. Now I understand. I thought of maybe refusing treatment after a few weeks, but now that I understand HOW it works, I may do all 28 treatments.

In the meantime, I think the rash continues to improve, albeit slowly. Take care!


Carver said...

I'm not sure how much I understand but it makes a certain amount of sense. I hope that it will work exceedingly well for you.

Dee said...

Hi Carver,
I do, too! I do kinda want to get it over with - on the other hand, I will have some interesting stuff to do in the next few weeks. Hope you're having a good day!

jeanne said...

Aaaahhhh. I see! I see! ("Getting it" really does make a difference.)