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Of Radiation & Chemo Therapy – Look at the Blessings!

Written by Roger Baker.


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Well, if you’ve never done radiation therapy plus chemotherapy, I can share a little detail with you: it ain’t pretty, and it ain’t something most dual-channel patients share with their friends. But I have the perfect excuse (brain cancer) and so I will give you some details.

Both therapies have specific targets (both between my ears) but they do this through two different methods.

My weekdays start with radiation therapy. You are restricted to a certain amount of radiation therapy depending on the dosage of radiation and the amount of time. In four weeks I will be done for life. The sad part is that this part of therapy I rather enjoy, other than the three hours of time it takes out of my weekdays (2 are travel, only 20 minutes for all the treatment.) The operators of the radiation machine depend on the team you work best with. I got blessed on this one. Two wonderful ladies take me in, help me lie down, cover me with a blanket from the church, and joke with me. It is wonderful, and I am not certain the is a man my age who wouldn’t rather enjoy the treatment (at least that part.) A nice part of this is that they have music playing, and as I am rolled in & out of the big radiation machine, I’m enjoying the music and nearly dozing. The bad part is that next week the hair on my head falls out and that I am getting a head-up tan. Will shave the head again if it starts to get me notably bald on top.

Chemotherapy at this point is an at-home, monitored weekly treatment that occurs every day of the week. The chemotherapy will double in amount after I finish radiation therapy.  It consists of capsules I take every day (I have worked out that right before bed works for me.) The dosage is based on weight (which is slowly dropping – weight, not dosage.) Once we clear radiation therapy, the chemo dosage will increase (double.) Hopefully I will shift gears and start to feel better as the change is made.

Brings me to a funny detail if you can stand it - unappreciated weight loss. When I left Texas I was 220 lbs, this time last year I hovered at 200 lbs, now I am at 178 lbs thanks to the chemotherapy. There are a lot of cancer patients who start to "look better" thanks to the weight loss chemotherapy can help cause. I try very hard to eat appropriately - I am on a special diet, I have a very special breakfast wizarded by Sue, etc. Sadly, the combinations of radiation therapy and chemotherapy sometimes clogs the digestive system (thanks to the chemotherapy chemicals.) I ended up “plugged” all last week. As I returned to the doctor yesterday for the new week’s chemicals, I pleaded for help. I was given the appropriate medication and around 1A.M. this morning, I lost about five pounds (not surgery, just the bathroom, if you have questions, email me.) Whew! I feel so much better it is hard to say just how much. I used a lot of time in the bathroom last week, doing a lot of praying, arguing with the enemy, and trying to stay true to my faith (with help, I did.) I noticed that I have things a lot better than Job did!

Four more weeks – the symptoms associated with the combination of the two therapies with peak somewhere around week four or so. But who is complaining? Well, not me. Here are some great things happening:

  • On Mondays, the toughest days, I don’t have to worry about cooking – people from the church take care of that lavishly.
  • Every weekday I get driven in & back to Walter Reed to get some of the best treatment on the planet. Notice two big blessings right there – no ambulance because of the kindness of others (men from the church), and great treatment since I am a dependent of a colonel (and a vet, too.)
  • I am not out a dollar for the treatments; nonetheless they are being monitored by the best doctor in the world to deal with MS and brain cancer together.

Many believe there are no blessings that go along with Job. Sigh. They never made it to the final chapter, I suppose. But yeah, joining the modern “Job Club (Light)” ain’t easy (or desirable at that!) But look at the blessings, look at the blessings!