Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29 Doing OK

On Friday, I completed the 10th radiation treatment. Two weeks down. One week to go. So far, I have experienced just two significant side effects. Since the middle of last week, I have gradually become more fatigued. Basically, this means that I get quite sleepy throughout the day. Also, my throat has become very dry and congested with phlegm. I must drink water, gargle, suck on a lemon drop or do whatever I can to clear my throat. At least these are side effects that I can deal with.  I take naps. I slept have the day on Saturday. And, I keep a drink close - mostly water, tea and gatorade.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On April 26, 2007, I received a confirmed diagnosis of non-small-cell lung cancer – adenocarcinoma. After months of testing for allergies, asthma and other things that might cause a persistent cough, a routine chest x-ray at an annual physical indicated an issue and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. This began a litany of treatments that are outlined elsewhere in my blogs.
At the time of this Stage IV NSCLC diagnosis I learned that my prognosis was not good. Median survival after this diagnosis is 8 months – less than a year. Five year survival is 1%. Today is the 5th anniversary of my initial diagnosis!! I am officially part of the 1%.
Of course, the fight continues. Just this morning I received the 9th of 15 whole-brain radiation treatments for brain lesions/tumors. I continue to take Xalkori (Crizotinib) for my lung cancer. I was in the test for 16 months and have continued with great success. I learned that my gallbladder had adenocarcinoma on it when it was removed. I have a small growth on my right iris.
The past 5 years have included many highs and some very challenging lows. But, we have continued to live life to the fullest. By my rough count, we have cruised approximately 31 weeks since my diagnosis. We have 4 cruises scheduled through mid-2013. And, we have frequently joined in family celebrations for birthdays and weddings.
Despite the ongoing risk of something reoccurring or something new, I am optimistic. The healthcare at IU Hospital and the IU Simon Cancer Center is world class. Dr Larry Einhorn (lungs) and Dr Mark Henderson (brain) have been outstanding. I have asked to be treated aggressively and they have done so. The entire team of many doctors and other medical professionals has been a great benefit for me.

Here is hoping for at least 5 more years!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pic of new radiation mask

For those who might be curious, this is a picture of the mask used for my whole-brain radiation treatments. The green tape outlines the area treated by the radiation.

April 25 Brain Radiation

Radiation treatments #6, #7 and #8 this week. Seven treatments to go. Visited with Dr H this morning. A little more fatigued the past few days. Had to nap yesterday late AM. I was OK for the rest of the day. Throat is drier. Dr H said that is normal due to the upper saliva glands being within the treatment area. They produce less saliva; but, that should correct itself when treatment is completed. Dr H examined my throat - no sores developing at this time. He gave me a tube of cream to use if my head begins to itch or get red - like sunburn.

Friday, April 20, 2012

4/19-20/12 radiation

Treatment #4 yesterday and #5 today. Was a little sleepy yesterday afternoon. Radiation or getting up at 6:30AM. Up earlier than normal this week?? Eyes a little drier than normal. Put in extra eye drops. Nothing else that I have noticed from the treatments. Glad to have the weekend off so I can sleep in.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

4/18/12 4th treatment

Treatment a little earlier today, 8AM. Once again, simple and short. Visited with Dr H. nothing significant. No side effects yet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2nd radiation

Nothing significant today. Rec'd 2nd radiation treatment. Arrived at 8:20. Complete and on my way to the office at 8:30. Very early in the cycle - no side effects yet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

4/16/2012 First whole brain radiation - second time around

Early today was my 1st whole brain radiation treatment. is the 1st for this time around. Actual 1st whole brain radiation was 3 years ago. See my March 16, 2009 post of a pic of the mask. I have a new mask that is pretty much the same. It firmly holds my head to prevent movement. It's a good thing that I am not claustrophobic! Treatment this morning was less than 30 minutes (including a few once-every-fifth-treatment xrays) and I was in the office by 9AM. As was the case in '09, I don't really have any impact from the radiation yet. I went back to re-read the '09 posts so I could see my reactions at that time. It appears that considerable fatigue will occur after multiple treatments. Dr H thinks I may experience greater fatigue since this is my 2nd round of whole brain radiation. I guess I will wait to learn if I experience any of the other side effects.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Treatment schedule

Mask formed to my head, CT scan with the mask and schedule reviewed. I will receive a whole brain treatment each day - Monday to Friday - for the next 3 weeks. 15 total treatments. Expect side effects similar to 3 years ago. Dr H says that I should expect more fatigue this time.

4/11/12 Brain Radiation

Well...I learned this morning that I will be receiving another round of whole brain radiation. It seems that the MRI last week indicates 4 new lesions. There are now 8 lesions that have not yet been treated and there are 2 lesions that have been treated previously but have now grown. Considering the growth in my right eye iris and some balance issues that I have experienced, Dr's Henderson (radiation oncology - brain), Witt (neurosurgery - brain), Einhorn (oncology - lungs) and Phan (ophthalmology - eyes) have discussed treatment options.

After discussing with me, it seems that the most logical, proactive approach is to have whole brain radiation. I go in this afternoon to have a mask created - probably similar to the mask used in 2009. I will also see Dr H to discuss treatment schedule. I need to go back to my 2009 postings to remind myself of the side effects that I had the first time I had whole brain radiation. Dr H feels that, even though I had significant side effects, this is the best treatment option.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Anniversaries, eye, brain - April 4, 2012

First, the good news. April is the 5th anniversary since my lung cancer diagnosis and first chemo. Only 2% with Stage IV lung cancer survive 5 years after diagnosis!! March was the 3rd anniversary since my first radiation treatment for brain lesions. I am lucky to have great doctors and treatment options at IU Hospital and the IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.

Next, re: my right eye. After an MRI of the orbits (eyes) yesterday, it was decided that a biopsy is not really necessary.'s "needle in the eye" was cancelled. Instead, the opthalmologist will monitor the growth. If it gets larger and begins to cause side effects, they will determine a process to remove it. This will probably include breaking up the growth and aspirating (vacuuming/sucking) it out of the eye.
Finally, the issue of brain lesions. Of the 13 lesions originally treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery in August, 2011, 3 have shown possible growth since early 2012. The lesion treated with Novalis radiosurgery in December, 2011, is stable. A new lesion spotted in early '12 has grown. I have exhibited no new side effects; but, lesion growth means treatment is needed. The doctors will discuss and determine a course of action in the next few days.