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#33 Treatment -

A team of physicians at Stanford University used the MRI and Cat Scan of my brain to plan the radiation delivery to my tumor from all directions. (See the arm of the machine on #31 blog.) That arm slowly moves around the table and delivers radiation from all angles to the exact location of the tumor.

In preparation for treatment, a warm mask of mesh material is placed on the face and as it quickly cools, it makes a mask. This mask is then used each day of treatment. The mask is fastened to the table so my head will not move during treatment. Even if it does a tiny bit, the machine will know to readjust the beams. The radiation comes at the tumor from all directions to minimize damage to good brain cells. All those rays are directed to zap the tumor.

My radiation dosage was divided over three painless treatments. The treatment itself is outpatient so I could go back to the motel afterward. Following each treatment, they gave me steroid medication to treat any possible swelling. Before each treatment, I had Valium for my claustrophobia. Even though the mask fitted to my face and fastened to the table, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

Remember when I talked about my very first MRI how I suffer from claustrophobia? How can I handle the mask being fastened to the table? Once again Valium came to the rescue. More than the medication, I felt peace from prayers of family, friends, and members of the prayer team at church.

My prayer requests included first that the radiation would kill the tumor. The second request – that I could handle the treatment and the feeling of claustrophobia. The third request – that I wouldn’t have side effects.

Some people have the mistaken impression radiation causes the tumor to disappear. This isn’t true. The best outcome is to kill the tumor. It can take months to know if the radiation even works. An MRI six months after treatment will possibly show if the tumor is dying. MRI’s will show dying by a decrease in size or a change in color.

So for a patient who needs the tumor to be gone (out of the head), radiation isn’t the treatment of choice. I only needed to know it’s dead, not gone. Dead was enough for me.

Trouble is, MRI’s continue to be needed. This is one crazy tumor. It can look like it’s dead and regrowth can happen. But regrowth can happen with surgical removal, too. If the surgeon leaves a few cells to save the nerve, those cells can start growing. I have met patients who required multiple surgeries or radiation following surgery or surgery following radiation.

*****

Dear God,

I need courage today for cyberknife radiation. I pray you will be with the doctors and guide them to give me the radiation. Help each ray to kill the tumor. Thank you for giving the doctors wisdom to use this treatment. Amen. 

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psalm 16:8