Leanne and I had our radiology date this past Wednesday. We met with my radiation oncologist again and I was pleasantly surprised by his demeanour on this visit. He seemed a lot more jovial than last time. He was even cracking jokes. This was in stark contrast to our first visit. Perhaps they are supposed to be more serious upon first meeting with a Stage 4 patient. In any case, he did walk us through the first part of the plan.
Step one of the plan is to zap Tony. Sometime in the next few weeks, I will be getting 5 consecutive days of radiation, possibly with a weekend break in the middle. It should take 30 minutes out of my day (plus the travel time). Ideally, the radiation will shrink Tony, which should improve my symptoms (less frequent bowel movements).
The radiation side effects do not sound too horrible. The doctor explained that the radiation treatment is like getting an internal sunburn. The walls of my bladder and bowels will become inflamed which will result in more frequent bowel movements and urination. I may need to set up a desk in the bathroom as I already spend way too much of my day on a toilet. The side effects won’t be immediate; I’ll feel the worst of it about 7-10 days after the radiation ends. After that, my urination should gradually return to normal and bowel movements should become less frequent than they are now. I would expect less pain in my rectum as well if Tony has indeed shrunk.
Step two of the plan is chemotherapy to attack the rest of the cancer cells in my body. I should find out more details about that when I meet with the medical oncologist again on Feb. 15. Surgery is not currently part of the plan, so I am curious as to why I am meeting with the surgeon next week.
Before I met with the Radiation Oncologist I had my CT Simulation appointment. That was pretty easy. They put me inside the CT machine and while I was pretending to be a photon torpedo they moved me around a bit to position me correctly, then marked my alignment by drawing x’s on me. Once they reviewed the scans to confirm the alignment, they tattooed a little dot in the middle of the x’s. I received three tattoos, one on each of my hips and one about 2 inches below my belly button. I learned an important life lesson: Don’t mess with people that have tattoos, because they are tough! Tattoos hurt!