Beating Cancer: Quick Radiation Update and What Happens When I Go In

Hey everybody,

It’s been about a month or so since I updated everyone on my internal wellbeing. (External is going pretty good, as you can presume considering I did R2R.) So, here’s a quick update.

Brief Update

  • As of today, Friday, May 31, I am over 2/3’s of my way through radiation. I have only five more sessions – Monday through Friday, next week – and then I’m done. *pops champagne… actually summit the tallest mountain in AZ*
  • I’ve had no complications at all. My chest has begun to turn a little red (you’d compare it to being somewhat sunburnt) but that’s been the extent
  • My throat is doing great – they said it might get sore/hard to swallow
  • I don’t think I’ve seen my energy levels depleted at all. I’m still being active six days a week which is how it should be
  • The Mayo staff has been super cool and they’re very impressed with how “normal” I am. I actually think they might be a tad worried that this isn’t affecting me. TBD.

What Happens During Radiation

Everyone is curious about what radiation is. ‘Does it hurt?’ they’ll ask. “What do you do?”

Well, it’s pretty much the easiest thing in the world. Here’s what happens.

  1. I walk in and they ask me my birthday – even though it’s day 13 and they should have it memorized 😉
  2. I take off my shirt and I lie on a table. They line up my four small tattoo dots to the lasers.
  3. They then put on my chest harness (even though it’s not a harness, I just can’t think of what it’s called). Basically, it keeps me from moving around. It goes from just below my pecs to my chin.
  4. They then take some x-rays to make sure “things look good.” Unsure what this is really for but I’m strapped in at the moment so I’m just rolling with the punches.
  5. They get me into position and then I start doing deep inspiration holds. Laymen’s terms, I hold my breath for as long as I can to put maximal distance between the tumor site and my heart. #ProtectTheHeart. I’ve become an expert breath-holder and have had a couple of perfect days so far. (This means I’ve been able to hold my breath longer than the proton beam can last/I’ve been able to do each section in only two breath holds.)
  6. They put me in three different positions overall and shoot the lasers at me.
  7. Once I’m done, I leave. Pretty simple. In all, it takes probably 30-45 minutes overall, with the majority of the time consisting of strapping me down and waiting for the beam to get ready.

I haven’t had any photos of me taken yet but I’ll try to ask them to do so to help give you all some idea of what it looks like.

Other than that I feel healthy and excellent. My resting heart rate, which was way high last November is back down into the upper 50’s/low 60’s and I hit a new low at night with a heart rate of 46. That will only get lower as I continue getting into better shape. I do believe that the radiation has shrunk the tumor even more, so this was a great decision to go along and get this done (even if it’s annoying to drive to Mayo every day).

I’ll do another update in a few weeks once this is all wrapped up and I’ve had a chance to blow my oncologist’s brain meet with my oncologist for another checkup.