Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cyberknife

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!

It's been an interesting and even scary time lately. Fighting metastasis in my head, I feel like I've been riding rollercoasters nonstop for a couple of months. I walk like a drunken sailor, due to the balance centers being affected; and the cerebral nerves have been impaired, causing me to lose my hearing and my facial muscles on the left side.

I was also starting to feel overwhelmed once again by the cancer, especially by the diagnosis of leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. I begged the doctors to give me more ammo to fight with NOW, as I didn't want to wait on trying the reservoir with chemotherapy in the brain. So I started on a new targeted chemotherapy drug on May 1 that has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. So far, we believe the drug is working, as indicated by the side effects I've had.


I also opted to use a process called "Cyberknife" to rid myself of two tumors in my head, one in the Internal Auditory Canal (on the cerebral nerves) and one in the soft tissue between the IAC and the brain. My doctors had heard of Gamma Knife, but the specialists to whom they sent me were the ones who told us about Cyberknife.

Unlike Gamma Knife, Cyberknife can do other areas besides the head, including the spine, lungs, and prostate. That's really good news, because I have a tumor on the spinal nerve at L2 that is causing the numbness in my legs and feet (and formerly was causing the sciatica pain; boy, the acupuncturist did a GREAT job of knocking that pain down to nothing!).

Cyerknife isn't really surgery; as a matter of fact, it SPARES one having brain surgery (or other invasive surgeries)! Instead of cutting into me to remove the tumors, very high doses of radiation are targeted specifically into the tumor(s), ablating the cancerous cells and tissues. I just lie on a table, while a machine reminiscent of Wall-E moves around me, delivering unseen and unfelt beams to the tumors' locations.


It's so Star Trek --- just lie on the table while the macine moves all around, blasting
tumors with beams of high-dose radiation and eliminating the need for brain microsurgery!



Furthermore, Gamma Knife requires a metal framework to be screwed into the head, while Cyberknife was completely noninvasive. That was very appealing to me. To hold my head still, they molded a mesh mask to my face that was clamped to the table for each of the actual Cyberknife sessions. The two tumors in my head were ablated over the course of three 1-hr sessions.


A mesh mask molded to my face is used to keep my head still during sessions.


The ablated tumors will be dissolved over the next 2 to 4 weeks, and I am hopeful I will have complete restoration (although it isn't predicted). Meanwhile, I am groggy from the Benedryl I take (knockout drops) to combat the rash caused by the targeted chemotherapy. I sleep a bit more than I like, and I greatly miss driving.

So I just enjoy the simple things in my life each day: the beautiful yellow birds that wake me up each morning (and tease the cat); all the wildflowers constantly emerging as others fade; my family.



I might have to take up bird watching as my newest hobby!


Of course, incorrigible that I am, I did sneak out one day to drive (with parental supervision). I took my mom on a little picnic to see the last of the wildflower fields. So even though life is kinda hard right now, we're still taking time to enjoy all its beauty.



Fading field of coreopsis.
Align Center

And of course, I am NOT giving up! Thank God for more ammunition! I'm still going!

1 comment:

Matt said...

Wow...I just read your story! Congratulations on beating the odds; it just goes to show what a positive attitude can do. Matthew L.