Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I really need a life!! LOL

Okay, I really wanted to know how to figure the progress of the radiation treatments - both how many cells it killed each treatment and then how many cells divided overnight. I developed a spreadsheet with the results. I have saved the spreadsheet. I think I have the math right. It seems right, anyway. But the whole process involved some research.

I had to know how many were killed each time. My rad onc said that each radiation treatment kills about half the cells. Easy enough.

But I really didn't know the rate at which cells divided (otherwise known as mitosis - I think, so don't quote me on that).

So, I looked up the mitotic score of my "tumor" (cancer tendrils) and it was 1/3, or slow growing. Cool. They originally told me medium growing.

So, then I had to find out how often a tumor doubled in size. The average rate is 4 months - a tumor will normally double in size every four months. So, if I had a tendril that was 1 cm long, four months later, it was 2 cm long. I used the average rate, rather than the slow growing rate.

Okay. Say I have 100 million cancer cells in the area being radiated. If nothing is done, it will double to 200 million in four months. Divide 100 million by 120 days to get the daily rate of cell division (the number of days in four months) and you get 833,333, which I rounded up to 1 million. So, in one day, 1 million of the 100 million have divided, or a 1% rate. (I'd been using 20%.)

I developed a spreadsheet, showing treatment days and then no treatment days. No treatment days are week-ends, and I also have no treatment days next week, when I will be away in DC/Raleigh. There is also a no treatment day on July 4. I got it all scheduled and calculated. Treatment 28 will be on July 15.

You want to know what's weird about that? My sister and I rented a house in Lincoln City for July 15-18. We originally requested July 14, but the property owners asked to either add a day or take away a day so that they could have a two-night stay for someone else. We took away a day. How weird is that? It is almost like it was meant to be. So, those days in Lincoln City will really be a celebration of me finishing radiation treatments! (At least the first 28. My rad onc will have to wait until I return for those boosters she wants to do.)

I won't go into the details of the calculations, but I believe it is accurate since I didn't calculate the dying of cancer cells on no treatment days, only growth.

And, the other weird thing, after 28 days, I only have half a cell left, according to the spreadsheet.

So, there IS a reason behind the magic 28 day mark for radiation treatments. At least, using the round number of 100 million cells to start.

According to my spreadsheet, after my treatment today, there are only about 427,000 cancer cells left. With an original start of 100 million. Take that, you little buggers!

That feels good to have so many of them gone. Tomorrow morning, when I go in for the treatment, it will be 432,000.

I will keep you posted - not everyday, of course - but now that I've started this countdown of cancer cells, I can't stop. This way, we'll all have something to hang onto as I complete these radiation treatments. Eyes on the prize, right?


Doug said...


I love your math. And by the way, cancer cells are really STUPID, so when you throw high-level math at them, they run away crying! Keep up the good work.


Dee said...

HI Doug,
Thank you! I like that image of cancer cells being STUPID! I'm going to throw that into my visualization today - that they're running away from me. Thank you for visiting - it means alot because of what you're going through that you are taking the time to stop in and say hi.

Sandy said...
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