with a update. Wife informed me of Angeline's this morning's email, that I answered, and have tuned in here to SE. We have been without email or a computer for the past two months while in Houston and we returned a few days ago to San Antonio.
Couldn't ask for better medical treatment, including the equipment, doctors, nurses, and staff of the MD Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston. After determination that there was cancer in a lymph node was given Chemo therapy each Monday and 5 days a week given Proton Radiation treatments in their new building opened in May just for that purpose. The treatments were programmed to lasted for 7? weeks.
The Chemo treatments lasted 3? hours per session and involved 6 'bags' of liquids given through a needle in the forearm with the two 'bag's' of actual chemo taking one hour each.
The type of chemo I was taking is a supplement to help in the Proton Radiation treatment. I was fortunate in not getting nauseous by taking the expensive Emend pills.
Their new Proton Radiation Center equipment is quite impressive. There are only 4-5 of these types of Centers in the USA. Initially you go through a special machine that pinpoints the location of the cancer and get form fitted with individual molds to fit your arms over your head, legs, and feet for positioning your body for steadiness when the radiation beam is activated. Then there is a waiting period of 3-5 days while the intricate highly specialized technicians/doctors plot out how the radiation is to be administered and computer programming is developed for the Proton machine for each individual. They take into account that breathing will move the target, so they allow for a wider area of coverage than just a pin/pencil point. There are (looks like to me) heavy copper/brass type plates, aprx 1 ft square, 2 in thick that are made to direct the radiation beam so that none escapes, and I observed that they changed out 4 plates for each direction that the beam is directed. I was administer the beam to 3 locations on each session, one directed from the front, rear, and left side...sort of like a triangle. The actual operation was done by 3 young specialized techs and usually lasted about 35 minutes. But of course...where else...the computers balked a couple times and there was a waiting period....15-20 min or so to get them reset. Then one time lightning affected the power causing the whole plant to shut down the several main Proton machines, resulting in a 2 hr delay in restarting everything. I asked about aux power backup as I though every hospital has it. They said, yes they had automatic switching aux power, but the Proton Radiation machines (I saw a Hitachi (s) emblem) were designed to shut down immediately faster than can be imagined of any slight power variation, then taking time to power back up. There were only the above 3 minor incidents during the 2 months while there.
There was no pain with the treatments, however was advised right from the beginning that because my cancer was near the esophagus the radiation would cause irritation and pain starting about the middle of my treatment schedule and it would last for weeks after treatment. I would probably have pain swallowing food and in some cases would need a feeding tube to the stomach if too painful to eat. They kept checking and wanting to know when I had pain as they had medications for it. I also developed round red spots 3" diameter on chest, back & left side where radiation administered. There was a special cream suggested for application.
Well, I thought I would be one of the lucky ones, and doctors/nurses were happy with my progress without pain until the last few days of treatment. The pain started right in the center of my chest whenever I eat anything. They have a special Rx mixture, only available at MDA that is swallowed while eating to coat/deaden the esophagus. Also, put me on liquid Hydrocodone w/Tylenol and then upgraded my pain medication the day I left to Duragesic (Fentanyl Transedermal System) patch that I put on my skin changing every 72 hours. This stuff if powerful.
Well, to say the least, I'm feeling good, weak, sleep a lot, but it is still very painful to get food past a spot around the center of my chest. They said it will be several weeks more to go through.
Doctors are optimistic that their treatments got the cancer, but have to wait until end or January or later for further test results.
Thanks everyone for your good thoughts and prayers. I honestly believe they work.
PS....about three fourths of my thick gray hair has fallen out, but am told it will grow back.