Sunday, January 27, 2008

5/6 completed

On Friday I had my 35th Proton treatment. I had been anticipating 42 treatments, which would have given the 5/6 fraction mentioned above. But on Tuesday, my oncologist said that 41 treatments will do the job. Six left and we'll be on our way back to Tennessee. We are certainly ready to get back home.

Worst part of this past week has been a bad cold I picked up on Wednesday. It still lingers, but I'm feeling a bit better today. I guess I'll have to blame it on "the bug going around" and not the therapy; lots of folks at church were affected, and even one of the staff at the Institute. I hope to be "out and about" tomorrow or the next day. Fortunately treatment is not affected; I do have to hold still and not sneeze, however.

I haven't described what the treatment is like, so let me do that. Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a 7:40 AM. We'll get up shortly after six and try to get on the road by 6:40. It takes about 20-25 minutes to drive to the Institute. I will check in, drink my water, then chat with other patients until I'm called to the back. Once there, I change into a hospital gown and proceed into the treatment gantry. I get onto the platform, the radiation technicians align my body using targets drawn on my hips, and I am placed into the correct position for the treatment. Before they "shoot me" with the Proton beam, X-rays are made to ensure that the target -- the cancer in my prostate -- is aligned properly. Two weeks before my treatment regimen started, three gold seeds were implanted in my prostate, for use with the x-rays in determining the exact spot where the proton beam needs to deliver its dose.

After all this alignment, the actual radiation is anti-climatic. The technicians go out to the control room, the beam is started, and a few minutes later they're back. Mission accomplished, I get my appointment time for the next treatment, get back into street clothes, and am on my way out the door. Total time: as little as 30 minutes, but it can take longer if there happen to be any equipment or scheduling problems. I think I've mentioned before that the staff here is wonderful, and that these people, being treated for cancer, are the most "up-beat" cancer patients you'll see anywhere. This whole experience has been eye-opening for us, and I'm hopeful that more folks will be able to take advantage of Proton Therapy.

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