My seventh radiation session took place yesterday. So far, so good. There has been some nausea, but mostly it’s under control with medication. I haven’t missed any work or even been close.
I’m a frequent flier now. It’s become a daily routine. I’ve even stopped wearing a gown and just take off my shirt.
Once a week I meet with the radiation oncologist to make sure things are going well. We concentrate on how I’m feeling because there’s no way to know if radiation is actually making a difference! There’s no baseline to check improvement against.
Think about it for a second. The radiation is there to ‘douse’ any microscopic cancer cells too small to find. But in a best case scenario there are no cancer cells! It begs the question whether radiation is helping or hurting or maybe just wasting everyone’s time?
There’s no way to know. In my case radiation is a leap of faith in my doctors.
Radiation messes with the cancer cells’ DNA and stops them from multiplying. It messes with the healthy cells too, but they are able to repair themselves. That ability is missing in cancer.
As the ray gun travels around my body it’s beam’s shape and intensity constantly change. We want to zap what’s left of my pancreas while leaving adjacent organs, like my liver, alone. It’s not that easy.
The radiation oncologist works with a physicist and dosing specialist to map out a plan of attack. This is all custom medicine. Every day begins with a CTscan to make sure I’m lying in exactly the same position. It’s the precision of the beam that makes it all necessary and possible. It’s pretty close to magic.
Twenty three more radiation sessions to go before it’s back to chemo and then… (hopefully) donezo!