Monday, 5 July 2010


Waiting for a train , a red light or in a supermarket queue can be frustrating ...

The idea of waiting for scan results , your husband to start radiation treatment , then get through it has certainly frayed my (both our) nerves.

I haven't felt comfortable sharing my emotions here ... though I feel churned up 90% of the time. It is mostly because my life mate, the love of my life, is hurting & exhausted and I hate it.

Neither of us sleep well , we go to sleep alright but wake up ...wheels start churning and there’s no way to put the brakes on.

The small boys who invade our bed nightly about 1-2 am don't help. One in the bed is bearable but two just not compatible with a good sleep.

Today is a good day ...hooray ! We 'celebrate' the half way mark of DH's 6.5 wks of radiation. It's been a busy 3 wks 1 day and 3wks 1 day to go (14 treatments to go).

Generally, we've been focusing a lot on living for today & being happy. Though life has taken us down a road that is scary , we know things will be okay

It always feels like there are never enough hours in the day. each day is measured by the appointment time. The traveling has been arduous ... (the traffic and the crazy drivers scary). It generally takes around a 2-5 to 3 hr round trip. I am very grateful he can be at home...because we met a man last week that is over 3 hrs from home and only to gets to go home at the weekends.

We finally got to speak to his Radiation Oncologist on Friday, she explained his very complex treatment.He is having IMRT Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy to the right side of his face /temple.
IMRT is a state-of-the-art cancer treatment method that delivers high doses of radiation directly to cancer cells in a very targeted way, much more precisely than is possible with conventional radiotherapy

IMRT can be used to treat malignant tumors that might have been considered untreatable in the past due to close proximity of vital organs and structures. Treating such tumors requires tremendous accuracy. For example, in the case of head and neck tumors, IMRT allows radiation to be delivered in a way that minimizes exposure of the brain, optic nerve, salivary glands or other important structures.
The planning of it was very involved (behind the scenes) as DH's tumour was very close to a few vital areas. Not all of his tumour was possible to be surgically removed .It was so very close to the bone that surrounds the temporal lobe of his brain.

A powerful computer program optimizes a treatment plan based on a physician's dose instructions, and information about tumor size, shape and location in the body. A medical linear accelerator, equipped with a special device called a multileaf collimator that shapes the radiation beam, delivers the radiation in accordance with the treatment plan.

The equipment can be rotated around the patient to send radiation beams from the most favorable angles for giving the tumor a high dose while preserving important healthy tissues.

The actual radiation treatment appointments last a very short time.Once DH gets in, changed and on the table with his mask secured the treatments lasts under 5 mins (yes I timed it). He is usually there about 30-40 mins.

His treatment is 6 beams from various angles including one that enters at the back of his head. Each beam lasts about 20 secs, with a 20 sec or so interval to reposition him (from the computer console outside), the last beam requires them to manually go in and move the table.
Within each 20sec beam they target different areas/different intensities.

The radiation beams may be moved dozens or hundreds of times and each may have a different intensity, resulting in radiation sculpted in three dimensions.
His head , especially, is rigidly fixed via a full face mask to the treatment table to achieve total immobilization - there is no margin for error or movement. His body is immobilised too via knee/feet mould .

DH cannot even open his eyes or lips during the treatment the mask is so rigid & tight. When he exits the room, for at least 20mins or more after, his head has the honeycomb impression of the mask indented over his face. It's uncomfortable but a small price to pay.

We've had our moments of struggle with the 'busy'ness' of this life , our 3 boys birthdays in the last 2 weeks, continuing on with closing our business and spending down time at the farm. DH still works half the day as his appointments are mostly in afternoons.

I have learnt particularly in the last 2 months to lower my expectations and raise my appreciation all areas.

I am disappointed in some family & friends actions & attitudes. I know I can't control these things so I let it go.

I am so grateful particularly for DH's sister who has a been a tremendous support. I am grateful for the few friends who email or text us every few days, for the lady at church and another casual friend who separately told me that their bible study group (2 different ones) are praying for my husband. This comforts us, make us feel loved and supported.

Comfort from friends & family have made this nightmare more tolerable and for that I am eternally grateful. I'll continue to be grateful for what I have because I'll get more out of life than being bitter.
Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it. - Buddha
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