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Gamma’d ’em all.

August 3, 2010

They managed to treat all ten tumors yesterday. Hooray! I don’t have to go back for more on Wednesday. I was the only patient there thanks to the foresight of a saint of a nurse, so I had a radiation oncologist, a neurosurgeon, a gamma knife physicist, and the nurse all to myself. Good thing, too, because the day started at 7:15 a.m. with the ceremonial screwing in of the metal frame to my head. Then they did some scanning and planning. Mind you, I had a brain scan two weeks ago, but they did an additional one with the frame on to get all their marks. I was a little surprised at how excited they were to tell me that nothing new showed up on the scan in that short amount of time, but I guess that’s a darned good thing and tells you that the cancer isn’t growing new little friends immediately. Yet another reason not to have whole brain radiation done.

Here’s a long borning video about gamma knife:

The deal with the gamma knife is that for each tumor they have to re-set your head, and it’s all done with screw drivers and rulers and and a little bit of wrenching the frame around and shoving your head in the right position. This is not too bad if you have one tumor taken care of. That might mean one or two sessions in the machine at ten minutes each. I had ten done. Some of them required half and hour each, and some of them needed to be done from more than one angle. Some of them required a pretty extreme wrench of the neck — to the degree that they weren’t sure the machine could accommodate my head at that angle. I told them to shove it around and let me worry about my neck later. It’s fine, but tired right now. I’ll get acupuncture on Friday to take care of the kinks.  I believe I was shoved in and out of the machine 15 times with re-set times in between, snack time (ha! try to eat with that frame on your head), and break time for the staff. So, long long long day all around.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=sandra+dee&iid=2552405″ src=”″ width=”234″ height=”271″ /]When I got home I emptied the dishwasher and got some laundry going. It’s remarkable what you can do afterward. Of course they have me on steriods to prevent any swelling, and those always make me hyper, so I need to pace myself. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I watched “Gidget.” Not sure what to make of that movie other than to say it’s definitely a period piece and it eventually put me to sleep. Oh Moondoggie!

I’ll get an MRI in one or two months to see how it’s going, though they always emphasize that things might look worse before they look better because the treatment can cause some inflammation. Meanwhile, nobody thinks I’m going to die in the next couple of months, so that’s a good thing.

I have started the pill-form chemo (cytoxan/xeloda), which I so far seem to be tolerating well. It makes me very tired, the steriods make me very hyper…. good balance until I go off the steriods. We shall see what happens then. I asked the gamma guys about Xeloda and the blood-brain barrier and they say they have definitely been seeing good results. Again, we shall see. The goal now is never to see another tumor again in my brain.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 10:49 am

    Ah, she posted this right as I posted my last message! Brain busting it is, just don’t get near the microwave.

    Quite good news, just zap and zap and zap, what is a day every three months?


  2. Sandy Bartell permalink
    August 3, 2010 10:53 am

    So how long does it take for the gamma zapping to affect the tumors? I assume they don’t zap them into obvlivion immeidately (or maybe they do?) I’m glad it went well for you!!!!

    • August 3, 2010 11:07 am

      It can take a couple of months for them to respond. That’s why they don’t do another MRI for a while. Sometimes there can be a little swelling so they look larger at first. So, we wait. Given that the two tumors they treated a year ago responded so well, it’s likely these will too — unless they’ve developed new tactics, which tumors do. The doctors also warned me that Xeloda can make the brain hyper-responsive to radiation, so it might look extra-angry this time.

      So, more wait and see.

  3. August 3, 2010 11:20 am

    Yippee! The waiting will take care of itself. Go out and have some FUN this summer!! 🙂

  4. Ellen permalink
    August 3, 2010 11:54 am

    Oh Jill, this is wonderful news!

    However, I would have played it up a bit in order to get someone else to do the laundry! I could say that you weren’t using your brain, but that would be in poor taste, wouldn’t it. 🙂

    I was wondering if they would find more tumors – so this is even more excellent.

    Prayers and more prayers …!


  5. August 3, 2010 12:16 pm

    Go get zapped, go home and do dishes. . . all in a day, hunh?

    Praying for you.

  6. Babs McNeely permalink
    August 3, 2010 2:59 pm

    At first glance I thought it read “I gramma’d ’em all……was trying to figure out how you managed that one. 🙂

  7. mom permalink
    August 3, 2010 8:39 pm

    Everything is going to be all right. God knows, from all the prayers that are being focused toward Him, He is great at answering prayers that are told to him genuinely. Love and Hugs to you my dear Jill. Mom

  8. Bemused Boomer permalink
    August 3, 2010 10:42 pm

    It always comes down to the dishes, doesn’t it? I suspect Wonder Woman took care of the dishes each time she came home from fighting bad guys. Dishes are a fairly dependable constant in our world.

    Steroids make me hyper, too. Sometimes I’m grateful because I can catch up on all the stuff I couldn’t do when I was laid low. BTW, Gidget was written by a surfer man whose pubescent daugher took up surfing in the early 60s when it was a boy’s club kind of sport. She was a tomboy, but of course they had to pretty her up and make her silly in the movie to satisfy cultural demands of the time. Does that help?

    You are a true stoic to be in that device for so long and to tell them not to worry about crinking your neck into modern art sculpture positions.

    Blessings to you.

  9. Murray permalink
    August 5, 2010 11:45 pm

    Wow! This is such good news. I can’t believe you’re blogging right away, much less doing chores. We’re praying for you – thanks for the news.


  10. Sarahtee permalink
    August 6, 2010 1:48 am

    Good to know it went well, Jill 🙂

  11. E Lis permalink
    August 10, 2010 6:55 am

    Wonderful news!!!!

    Continued good thoughts, white light and prayers for you and yours! God bless you all.

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