Several of you have mentioned that you’ve learned a lot about cancer treatment from the blogs. Many of you (too many of you) have been there, done that, have the tee shirt. The good news is you are still here and that gives such hope. My only sadness is that some of you had to go through it so young. It is unconceivable how anyone can go through this with small children at home and I know many of you have done that.
Anyway, as I learn about proton therapy, I’m going to pass things on to you, because it’s so fascinating and relatively new. If you don’t want to go through Proton 101, just skip it. But scroll down to the end and check out the pictures anyway.
First, I’ve started rating my days and keeping track. 10 means it’s as good as a regular day at home BC (before cancer)…you know, maybe not perfect, maybe a shoulder ache or whatever but nothing that would keep me down. 1 means I’m ready to pack it in, don’t have the energy to care anymore. (there have been no 1s.) The last two days have been 10s…yesterday, even with two trips to Anderson, I was as good as it gets. I think I’m getting on Jerry’s nerves. I’m just too damn perky these days. It could be the new meds (more about that another day) but I might be getting a placebo. Whatever it is, I’ll take days like these any time.
Next, your kind words are blowing me away. I am not brave. I am not amazing. I am not wonderful or beautiful or exceptionally strong…Or maybe I am. Maybe we all are. Maybe we forget to tell each other how amazing we are because we don’t know what burdens anyone else is carrying. You KNOW what I’m dealing with because I’m on your computer every night. But I only know a little about the courage and beauty and strength that it takes for each of you to face each day with good humor and laughter, to do your jobs, to care for loved ones. to not snap at a coworker, to keep on keeping on. We’re all pretty amazing folks and we need to tell each other that…not just the one who’s saying “Look at me” all the time! (Honestly, it’s the writing that I love. It’s my therapy. I just recommended to a friend who’s having a rough time. She’s a fabulous writer and I told her that if she started Friday night emails to a few trusted friends, she might not need a therapist and when it was over she’d have a book deal worth millions)
Okay, what I’ve learned about Proton Therapy, part one. Hopefully what I tell you is accurate…or close enough. It’s a different kind of radiation therapy, more precise and more directed. One website described it like this. Traditional radiation therapy is like a bullet aimed at the tumor. When the bullet hits the body, it’s at full power. It starts to slow down as it passes through the body, hurting everything it goes through until it exits at the other side of the body. Obviously, it hits the right spot but it also damages tissue on its way to the site and on its way out the other side. Also, it hits the stuff BEFORE the site harder than the actual site because it’s loses power as it moves forward. So, first, other tissues and organs can be damaged (sometimes seriously) both on the way in and on the way out. Theoretically, that means doctors have to do a cost/benefit analysis….how much radiation can the rest of the body stand? How strong a dose can I send? They often give milder doses because of risk of damage to other tissues, often meaning a longer time for therapy or worse, not strong enough to do its job. However, as many of you know, traditional radiation therapy DOES do its job and lots of you are proof of it. Proton is just the next step, I think.
Proton on the other hand is like a smart bomb. It heads into the body and doesn’t “explode” until it reaches the site it is aimed at. And then it stops. Because of this, they can give a full power dose. It’s not going to mess up anything else. Obviously the measurement better be right (in both they need to be right) because if the “explosion” is off, you could end up with some pretty damaged tissue and a tumor that doesn’t go away.
Okay, enough for one night. Forgot my iPod again tonight for therapy. Decided to listen to 50s music on Pandora. Loved it but when your main job is to lie there and NOT MOVE listening to The Lion Sleeps Tonight and Wake Up Little Susie and I’m a Wanderer without jiggling and trying to dance required enormous concentration. Don’t think I’ll do 50s music again. I really do need to bring my church music.
A few pictures…tonight’s are of the Proton Therapy Center. It’s a totally different building about two blocks from the main building and it’s lovely. Nice entrance…and the waiting room is beautiful Jerry came in with me and took pictures of me on the table…I’ll send them tomorrow. Tonight you’ll see where we hang out till I go in.