Possible Movement on the Cancer Front

I got a second PET scan* on the 19th; and the results were basically the same as the one I’d had four months ago:  the cancerous lump hadn’t gotten any bigger, and there’s still no evidence of any spread to my lymph nodes.  It’s possible that I might have to get another biopsy of the lymph nodes just to make sure; but the last I heard, the biopsy guy didn’t think it would be necessary.  We’ll see how that goes.

Assuming that I don’t have to worry about the lymph nodes, which the oncologist I saw today said he thought was highly likely, I’ve decided on radiation and chemotherapy.

I’m told that the radiation will be something like a dental x-ray, except that it’ll take about fifteen minutes during which time I’ll be immobilized inside something that they’ll mold around my body.  IIRC, there will be three treatments on separate days, and I’ll be able to drive myself home after each one.

The chemo will be more complicated:  three treatments on consecutive days repeated three more times at 21-day intervals.  This would bump into my trip to Hawaiʻi in November by a day or two; but the oncologist said that he could work around that.  He also said that, although some folks do get nausious from the drugs that he’ll use for the chemo, very few do; and I should be able to drive myself home after those as well.  That’s important because the flip side of there being no one who depends on me for anything is that there’s nobody whom I can reasonably ask to drive me to and from the hospital and then take care of me after I get home.  (This will be an issue if I need another biopsy since that requires general anesthesia; and so I’d need to be admitted to the hospital overnight for observation.  I wouldn’t mind that except for the boredom, but it seems wasteful to me…like I was hoarding a hospital bed for what would likely be no good reason.)

If there are no lymph node issues, and if the radiation and chemo work as expected, both the radiologist and the oncologist assure me that I should retain sufficient independence and cognitive abilities to continue serving on the ISO C++ committee through next year at least.  That’s good news because next summer’s meeting in Stockholm has fallen through, and I’ve made an offer to host the committee next June or July.

I feel a whole lot better now that I have a plan.

*This was basically like a CAT scan except that they shot me up with radioactive sugar; and the cancer cells said, “OOO, FOOD!”  Unlike a CAT scan, I had to observe a low-carb diet the day before and not eat or drink anything except water after midnight the day of the test; and it took about 45 minutes of my just lying around to get the sugar distributed around my body.


  1. antaresrichard says

    Good news to learn. Hope the treatment goes well.


  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … it’ll take about fifteen minutes during which time I’ll be immobilized inside something that they’ll mold around my body.

    I’ve done that with a neck treatment. They started by making a mold of my head, from which they made a mesh mask the size of my head, with flanges on the back which during each treatment get snugged down to the bed/platform to immobilize you. A circular apparatus then descends over you and pivots around so the radiation feed hits at precise angles; you don’t experience anything but clicks and blinking lights. With luck, they’ll have a system like at University of Florida Health, where you can request a range of music to listen to (ambient; no headphones).

    My experience was quite easy, but I have no problems with claustrophobia. You can see and breathe with no problem through holes in the mesh, but if you don’t like not-moving-at-all for a quarter hour, you might feel some discomfort from that (a full-body “mask” would enforce a “relaxation” more than I had, but good techies will make it as easy as possible).

    In my case, the major downside* was staring at a ceiling without artwork for 15 minutes; the upside was participating in a project with a real live linear accelerator(!).

    *Plus permanent loss of hair follicles along part of my jaw/neck, necessitating shaving the rest of my beard for life – but a more-than-tolerable price for the absence of the tumor for two years now!

    The mesh, as a custom job, can’t be used for any other patient, and they may offer it to you after completion of treatment like they did for me. Mine may someday serve me again at a Halloween party; not sure what you might do with a torso or full-body version, but your inner artist may find inspiration(s).

  3. billseymour says

    Pierce R. Butler, thanks for the info.  Yeah, that’s pretty much what I had guessed; but it’s good to get confirmation.

    I’ll ask about taking the mesh home after the treatments if it turns out to be something I’d actually want. 😎

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