Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Long Week of Treatments Completed!

Melinda's "long week" of treatments is finally over!  Her radiation treatments for her small-cell lung cancer started the week before on 23 January.  Her doctor has her on two treatments per day, at 8am and again at 4pm for maximum effectiveness.  When that started we were kind of surprised to learn that in addition, they scheduled another round of chemo to increase the effectiveness of the radiation.  We thought she had graduated from chemo last December, but no, 3 more days this last week.  What's worse, the first day always is a dual infusion, Carboplatin and Etoposide, so last Monday, 27 January, we had her first radiation at 8am at University Medical Center (UMC), blood labs up the street at the Cancer Center, infusion of the 2 chemo drugs, then with about 20 minutes to spare, back to UMC for her second radiation.  Not the way you want to spend 9 hours away from home!  Tuesday and Wednesday were slightly better with the chemo infusion of only the Etoposide.  Thursday and Friday were duck soup with only the 2 radiation treatments - time for naps between trips to UMC!

Since they won't let me past the waiting room where she gets her radiation treatments, Melinda brought in my camera to take a few pictures for the blog.  High-energy radiation, by the way, kills both cancer cells and normal cells alike by disrupting their DNA.  Since cancer cells divide more frequently than normal cells, they are more sensitive to radiation. The device which outputs the radiation is shown at upper left.  While there are 4 machines (to treat 4 patients at once), she only gets treatments from this one, called Varian, after the manufacturer.  Part of the waiting room is shown at left, complete with computers for patient use and reading materials.  In her week+ of experience so far, she has only had to wait past her appointment once (about an hour) when there were issues with one of the patients before her.  At right her tech took her picture once she had climbed into the bed.  She lies onto a custom-fitted form that was built-up her first appointment for proper positioning for the treatments.  The bed moves in-out towards the machine, and the head rotates around to give maximum dosage to the 6 locations she has treated...

Another view at left with a better view of her positioning.  Of course, the tech operates the machine from another room - Melinda is alone for the treatments, her feet tied down at the base, and her hands clasping the handle over her head for the 15 minute treatment. 

She had some pretty severe nausea after the chemo - worse even that her 6 rounds over the Fall.  She is slightly better today, so hopefully that part is behind her.  She is feeling some of the effects of the radiation - some reddening of the skin, and a sore throat (near one of the treatment areas).  She has 2 more weeks of the 2-a-days for chest radiation, then will likely have a couple weeks of Prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI), a preventative treatment to kill cancer cells that may already be in her brain but are undetectable in scans.

So while not out-of-the-woods yet as the treatments continue, this last week of both radiation and chemo is now past, with perhaps another month of radiation treatments to go.  Fingers crossed that all will continue well!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sounds brutal, prayers to get through the next month or so...