Wednesday, November 28, 2007

11.26.2007 - Treatment Begins

Treatment began this week. 11.26.2007 was a "dry run" of the focused radiation therapy. They called it a "dry run" because it was for fine tuning and calibration.

11.27.2008 was my first focused radiation therapy session. Unfortunately, the visit took over an hour when it was supposed to take only 15 minutes or so and we brought all the kids with us because we thought it would be so brief. They were late in getting me to the machine and then after the session, because the swelling in my head had decreased so significantly since the surgery, they wanted to make a new mesh mask for my head (which keeps my head positioned precisely) and rescan me wearing the mask with the CT machine.

11.28.2007, my brother-in-law volunteered to take me to my appointment. He volunteered for a lot because this was my first long day of treatment. The focused radiation therapy session was very brief and then I had my first IV chemotherapy infusion. They told me the IV session would be 90 minutes or so. Well, it didn't work out that way. We had left the house at 1230 hours and didn't get back home until 1800 hours.

What was a pleasant surprise was to learn that the neurooncologist wanted to change the chemotherapy schedule so that I had higher doses administered per session, but the sessions would be less frequent. The initial schedule was for the IV infusions to take place one day per week throughout the treatment plan and the oral chemotherapy to be taken every week day throughout the treatment plan. Now, I will be doing the IV infusions once every three weeks and the oral chemotherapy daily for a five day period once every three weeks.

They gave me anti-nausea medication with the IV and I haven't felt sick so far. Hopefully the oral chemotherapy won't cause me any nausea either...of course I will be taking anti-nausea medication with the oral chemotherapy as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

11.17.2007 - Treatment Schedule

After meeting with the neurooncologist again on 11.17.2007, he had a preference to begin treatment starting after Thanksgiving weekend. We could have started this coming week, but he did not want to start with an abbreviated week that then had the four day Thanksgiving holiday off from the therapy. Simultaneous administration of chemotherapy and focused radiation therapy should take place on the weekdays after that time and should conclude in mid-January.

I feel better and better each day with less fatigue as each day goes on, but we'll see what effect the therapy has on my mind and body because the most significant side effect described by the physicians is increased fatigue.

I now have some projects to work on from home from my employer and we will see how that goes too. I wanted to work again and know that it can only be part time for now. My employer has been very supportive and willing to let me work from home right now.

Friday, November 9, 2007

11.06.2007 - Treatment Plan

On 11.06.2007, we met with my new neurooncologist here and then met with a radiation oncologist. The pathology of the tumor has changed. They are classifying it as a grade four (most aggressive type) astrocytoma - often referred to as a glioblastoma multiforme. Astrocytomas are the most common form of brain tumor. My neurooncolgist has a very positive attitude and wants to aggressively treat it. He believes that cures for these situations are possible. Real world statistics aren't good, but we are going to fight this.

The treatment plan will involve simultaneous administration of chemotherapy and focused radiation therapy. Radiation therapy will involve 33 fractionated therapy sessions that are normally administered daily over the week days. Most of the chemotherapy will be orally administered and is generally well tolerated by the majority of patients who receive it. I will also receive a once a week IV infusion of another chemotherapy agent. The most significant side effect described will be increased fatigue as a result of all of it. Fatigue levels will get better after treatment. They will take a month off of treatment and then do follow-up MRI scans to see how the treatment went.

On 11.08.2007, I met with my neurosurgeon and he removed the staples from head. That was really nice to have done because I was finally able to take a full shower and wash my head since the surgical procedure.

On 11.09.2007, I had the pre-treatment planning CT and MRI scans done so that they can design the specific treatment plan for the focused radiation therapy. It was a long morning, but will enable the treatment to proceed now. They are anticipating treatment to begin in about ten days or so and then will involve the daily treatment sessions. The sessions will only take 20-30 minutes each day, so actual treatment - other than the once a week IV chemotherapy infusions - won't take too long, it will just be the daily grind of driving down to the hospital for the sessions on a daily basis.