Monday, August 26, 2013

8 days in

Today was day 8 of treatment and it is beginning to hit Jeff. Today we went out to eat after his appointment and we were just about finished eating when I could see his eyes start to get heavy. He was exhausted and almost seemed to hit a wall. The doctors told us to expect to start seeing symptoms around week 2 and I think we are going to start seeing the radiation take its toll. Last week went well with no major issues. He did a lot of sleeping, but that's nothing new. He was able to meet with the occupational therapist who is going to do a cognitive assessment this week and also refer him to a physical therapist for his leg/hip/limp and a nutritionist to help with what to eat and not to eat during treatment and to keep his energy up. It will be interesting to see the results of his cognitive assessment. I would describe his mental ability as being cloudy (I think I have mentioned it before). You know when you wake up from a deep sleep and someone talks to you but you aren't fully aware of what's going on and later you may or may not remember what the conversation was about. That's kind of how Jeff seems to be a lot of the time. I think it does have a lot to do with being so exhausted all the time and his brain having to work so hard to make the connections that used to be so easy for him. Nonetheless, the OT may have some strategies for Jeff to help make some difficult cognitive tasks easier. We also hope when the tumor is gone, the cloud will be lifted as well. 

In terms of treatment, the original treatment end date given to us, when we were told the treatment start date, was the 27th of September. Last week, when we got his treatment schedule, he was only scheduled until the 16th. The doctors decided they could accomplish what they needed to in less time. Yay! Jeff has 13 days of entire brain radiation and then 9 days of what they call a boost where they will specifically target his tumor with a more potent level of radiation. A scan on the 10th will show the effect the radiation is having on this cancer and give us a good idea of whether or not it is doing what we all hope it will do. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

day 2

Jeff is already 2 days down into his 6 weeks radiation journey. He started on thursday by going to a class about what to expect when receiving radiation treatment. It was very informative and a little overwhelming to hear how many people are being treated at the cross everyday. After Jeff's class, he got to experience the whole radiation thing first hand. The actual treatment only takes a couple of minutes and the radiation techs have things running rather smoothly. On day 2, I was able to see exactly what they do and even snap a few shots while I was in there. The mask over his face is purely for immobilization and positioning purposes. It is fairly tight and he comes out with a honeycomb face after, for a few minutes at least. The green laser lights are there to position him and they line up with the marks on the mask. After he is positioned they take an x-ray to double check his positioning. He is placed in the EXACT position he was in during his planning scan. This is to ensure the highest amounts of radiation are deposited into the tumour and only the tumour. Once things are all lined up, they start up the machine. The tech explained that the radiation is kind of like leaving an x-ray on for too long and Jeff feels nothing during the treatment. The actual radiation is on for 1- maybe 2 minutes each day. Since it takes about 2 weeks for it to build in your system, the doctors say symptoms usually start around then. A lot of people have been asking us about symptoms and its actually something we have been trying not to think about. We know what could happen but its not super helpful to talk about all the horrible possibilities. Jeff has a great team looking out for him and if problems arise, they know how to deal with them. It is expected that if symptoms arise, they will continue to worsen until about 7-10 days after his final treatment at which point they will peak and we should start to see some improvement. The hope for these treatments is that at the end of 6 weeks, his scans will show complete removal of the cancerous parts of the tumour.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Start date

Jeff has completed most of his tests and was able to see the endocrinologist yesterday. Because the radiation will be so close to the pituitary gland, they are worried about what that might do to Jeff's hormone levels and such. He will complete blood work on Monday and get a base line of where his hormone levels stand currently and if any symptoms arise during treatment, the doctors will be able to better tell what is normal and abnormal for Jeff. With this last appointment completed, Jeff is on the radiation schedule! His first day of radiation is the 15th and will continue every weekday until the 27th of September. That's less than a week before Jeff's radiation journey begins.