Developing a Plan

I had the CT sim today, which is one of the last steps in preparing for radiation.

Modern radiation machines usually deliver the beams in shaped sequences, based on elaborate scans and mapping performed by technicians. The goal is to hit only the cancer cells with deadly radiation while missing healthy (and important) tissue. There are a couple different approaches this type of therapy can take, but I discovered today that mine will be Tomotherapy.

When I first met the radiation oncologist in 2012, Dr. Deepak Khuntia, I’d researched Tomotherapy as an improvement on more traditional IMRT. I asked if it was better and available, and he looked surprised that I’d heard of it. He said it was better in some cases, but only available at one location in the San Francisco area (where I lived at the time). It wouldn’t make enough of a difference in my case to justify an hour’s drive each way for daily treatments. I remember him saying it was ironic that he didn’t have access to a Tomotherapy machine at the hospital since he consulted for the company who developed the machines.

So I was glad to hear today that I’ll have access to Tomotherapy! Here’s more info on the process.

I also ended the day with three new tattoos, since they use a total of four for radiation placement with lung cancer. I have the old one in the center of my chest, now joined with another lower in my chest and one on each side. There’s no mask this time to hold my head in place; instead, they formed a substance around my back and arms to create a me-shaped cradle that will hold me steady for each treatment. The machinery is so sophisticated that it will be able to map the radiation around my lungs even as I breathe.

So today’s another day to be grateful for SCIENCE and its continuing strides forward! Perhaps all this talk about radiation is just really thorough and elaborate role playing in eager anticipation…


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