Friday, November 22, 2013

Done With Radiation

Today I completed my 18th and final radiation session. Compared to chemo, radiation has been a cake-walk, the toughest part being the drive to-and-from treatment each day. The typical side effects of radiation are fatigue and burns at the treatment sites. I didn't suffer from any (more) fatigue and have minimal burns, although they will continue to develop over the next week or so. Oddly the burns are primarily on my left side even though I was treated on both sides with the same dosages.

It typically takes a couple of weeks after the end of radiation treatment for the full effects on the tumors to be realized.Unfortunately we'll never get to tell how "well" the radiation worked because a few weeks from now I'll be in the middle of the stem cell transplant process.

We're now finally ready to go to transplant and I'll be starting that on Weds, right before Thanksgiving. Not the ideal time to start but it gives me the best chance of getting out be Christmas. We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend instead.

The transplant will be 6 days of high-dose chemotherapy followed by the re-introduction of my stem cells that were harvested last month. Then it's just a matter of dealing with chemo side-effects (said to include diarrhea and substantial mouth/throat sores this time) and recovering.  There's no set time-frame for getting out of the hospital, but they estimate 2-3 weeks after the transplant is completed.  Hopefully that's before Christmas but it all depends on when my stem cells start reproducing on their own. Even once out, I'll be extremely limited until my blood counts (ie immune functions) get back up to an acceptable level.

The radiation machine. The patient lies on the table while the head of the machine rotates around to treat the appropriate areas.

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