How’s the Chemo/Radiation Going?

Relatively uneventful so far, which is to say: good I guess!  No ill side effects at all (aside from the fact that Kuato has shriveled up and fallen off my chest– I was starting to grow fond of the smelly little bastard.  Plus he gave really good tips on the ponies at Santa Ana).

Hopefully it’s working, but we won’t really know anything about that until after the 6 weeks of treatment are over (more on this later).

For now my days are relatively normal, aside from two things:

1)  I take a pill every night before bed, which so far hasn’t really made me feel weird at all.

2)  A quick drive over to Cedars Sinai every afternoon, where the incredibly sweet technicians hook me up to this thing:

(click on the pic to see full size)

The futuristic space mask is this thing they made a few weeks ago.  It starts out as a flat plastic sheet, which they heat up or boil or braise or something to get it soft, then stretch it out over your face.  It then dries and hardens in the exact shape of your face, and when you go in for treatment you lie down on this emerald encrusted golden TemPurpedic bed (this being Cedars, after all)* and they use the mask to click your head into place so that it doesn’t move at all during the radiation blast.

The green lines you see are these trippy lasers that shoot out of the walls, which I think the machine uses to pinpoint where your head is and where it should be delivering its radiation blast.  They’ve done all sorts of computerized imaging of my brain and the tumor socket, which allows them to beam the radiation specifically (and exclusively) at the place where the cancer is / was.

Nope, nothing at all.**  It doesn’t hurt, it only takes about 10 minutes, and you wouldn’t even know anything was happening if the sweet technician ladies didn’t run for their lives out of the room right before the machine turns on.

Which brings me to one final detail…

Someone asked me why I said I would never do radiation again after this 6 week jaunt:  the reason, as I understand it, is that they know how much radiation a person’s body can tolerate safely, so what they do is try to nail the cancer with everything they can right in the beginning, all at once, in an attempt to weaken and kill it as quickly as possible.  This is why I’m doing the 6 week chemo / radiation regimen.  They’re throwing everything they can at it, including the kitchen sink.

And since I’ve already had two brain surgeries, the sight of a 40 pound ceramic American Standard flying at my head isn’t really something that bothers me all that much.

So… it’s going well, thanks for asking!

*The bed isn’t really that ornate — although come to think of it it IS so technologically advanced that I bet it costs more than an emerald-encrusted TempurPedic.  It really just looks like a flat glass bed, as if you were lying down on an electric stovetop.  Which I guess in a way it is.  Oh small side note though:  the patient rooms at Cedars have new beds that actually ARE TempurPedics, and they’re insanely comfy.  Which is the only reason I stayed in the hospital the night after my second brain surgery.  It was just really comfy (Ok, that and the free morphine shots).

**One thing that I have noticed is this faint odor as soon as the machine turns on.  The technician said that only some people can smell it, and I think this officially confirms that I’ve inherited my mother’s nose.  Well at least the insides of it– the outside structure clearly came from my father.  (I need to point out here that the white plastic mask is WAY pointier than CP Senior and CP Junior’s noses.)   Anyway it’s really odd, though not unpleasant at all– the odor clicks on the instant the machine goes on, and it smells a bit like… burnt air or something.  Or ionized air.  As soon as the machine shuts off it disappears instantly.  If anyone has any idea what the hell this is, please let me know and I’ll give you 15 minutes of free radiation therapy using my radioactive nose nipple.

2 thoughts on “How’s the Chemo/Radiation Going?

  1. I need more information about the bed – is it the kind of thing that you could reasonably fall asleep in, if not for encased in a head-coocoon?

    And you say it’s a flat glass bed, but has the same comfort technology as a Tempur-Pedic? Are you suggesting that Cedars has found a supplier of some kind of futuristic translucent petro-foam?

    Is the bed wide enough that my bony elbows have ample resting room? Often times MRI gurneys fail to provide this support, which I sorely need. I’ve had to resort to sticking my hands in my pockets, which, while increasing the HQ (Hipster Quotient) during the examination, is perhaps not the most comfortable hand position.

  2. Started reading your blog today and had to comment……I smelled that weird smell too when I got radiation. I even asked them what it is, although as soon as they get all those lasers lined up -the techs run the fuck out of the room so fast before that beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep – there is no way they get a whiff.

    We went to GA together and saw from a post of Chuck Costanzo about you and your cancerful brain. I got a cancerful boob. Both suck but as you said – pancreatic cancer trumps all. After a year of Chemo, radiation and pills for the next ten years of my life and I think I’ll keep living. Hope your doing well. If you ever find your way up to Northern California stop by humboldt to get high…..I mean to say hi. Wishing you all the best.

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