“Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” – Psalm 2:11
Dear family and friends,
Good day today! Kendra and I went to UCLA for a joint consult with a radiation oncologist and a neuro-radiation oncologist. Kendra decided that they were “cute” together, and so now feels much better about my prospects for surviving this whole thing. Also, the cherry on top of the cuteness was that they really seemed to know a lot about brain tumors and what to do about them.
They had looked at my brain MRI before coming in to see us, and one of the first things they said is that the tumors are “very treatable.” They dialed back the number of expected sessions from 10-15 or 1-2. They said they thought they could probably eliminate the tumors in a single session. I think my main oncologist was giving me an idea of what could be entailed when he told me 10-15 last week, so this was a nice development.
They’re going to use a very targeted beam of particles and not whole brain radiation. Side effects are unlikely and are unlikely to last long if I do have them. I have a tumor near the area that handles left-side functions, so it’s possible that I could have some numbness and loss of strength on the left side, though it would likely be caused by radiation-induced temporary swelling and go away soon. I also have a tumor near an area that controls speech and some cognition. There, too, side effects are unlikely and are unlikely to last long, but I could have some trouble stringing words and thoughts together for a couple days, they said. All these side effects are around a 5% likelihood, which is a new personal record for likelihood of bad treatment-related effects, so I really feel like I’m doing a much better job. Someone please put a good word in for me with the boss.
They’re going to put me into a CT scan in the morning and use the imaging to perfectly fit to my face a vinyl mask which will hold my head still while I’m getting radiation. Don’t want to miss. I’m told the mask will look something like this:
We got to see the brain MRI and had the doctors talk us through what we were looking at. We had another moment of looking at the misbegotten, villainous scoundrel, cancer. Tumors, right there in the brain. Totally unacceptable! You want to know something amazing, though? So some of the tumors are way up in there. I have healthy brain tissue between the tumors and where you are sitting right now. So how do they get to the tumor without damaging the healthy tissue? We polled the kids at dinner for ideas. The best guesses were:
|Tiny robots – Bobby’s idea|
|Mary Jane said, “They go in yo brain,” which prompted some nonsense
from all the other kids about Phineas and Ferb, Candace’s brain, and cheetos.
It was off the rails at this point, so we got back to the topic at hand.
What they actually do is “program” the particles to “activate” only after they pass through the healthy tissue and get to the tumor. They can also bend these particle beams. Strictly speaking, I think this is called “magic.” I just don’t want Doug Henning to show up and tell me,
|It’s only an illusion!|
On my way home, I stopped at one of our local churches, as I like to do. Our pastor was in there praying, too, and so I took the opportunity to go to confession. So here comes another installment of why I do what I do, why I act like this, and probably why I handle cancer the way that I do. And for non-Catholic readers, this might be a deeper papist dive than you bargained for, but you showed up here, and I’ve decided I’m going to say things to people who show up in my little corner of the internet. Confession is something I depend on very deeply. And I think it’s a pretty misunderstood thing, even among Catholics. For me, it’s not about being overly focused on guilt or on a third party mediator. And I just don’t buy that it’s an invention of the Catholic Church.
Blessed Don Alvaro is the middle name of our 5th because, well, he's an awesome patron and I like how he got things done both while he was on earth and, as I've witnessed a few times in the recent past, now. And I'm asking him to help you. Your cheerfulness continues to inspire me. Your wisdom is very much needed here on earth so I'm hoping the Lord lets you get well and good for those who need to hear what you have to share…especially those of us with families looking for someone a little farther along in the journey who inspires us to keep on keeping on. Cheering you on from here and sending up prayers!!
Thank you! We pray for you and your intentions every day.
Pics of the face mask or it didn’t happen.
Can't deliver till next week. Techs were too busy wrapping my head in hot vinyl strips to be able to take pictures.
Praying for you daily, and in my weekly (Wednesday) hour of Adoration. You really are an inspiration and I thank you for sharing your Confession thoughts with us. I entered the Church a year ago and have gone to Confession almost weekly ever since that first "Big" one. It really doesn't get easier but I feel it keeps the dust off my soul. 🙂 I greatly appreciated your comments on things you confess to and how you have changed and grown over time. Thank you!
So is it horrible that I really hope the mask actually looks like that?!? Sounds like really good news about the tumors, praying like crazy over here! And, I’m with you about Confession…love it!
Thanks, Bonnie. I think it will get easier for you. I've gotten to the point that it's a complete joy. I'll be praying for you!
Thanks, Katie! You are allowed to hope that the mask looks like that, just not that, "It's a trap!"
HA! I agree…no trap. Thankfully, they win in the end, and you’re going to win too!
As Kendra pointed out the first time this all went down in 2007, it's all upside for me.
I've subscribed to your blog because I feel a connection to your story. My husband had stage IV metastatic melanoma in 2016, when our five kids were young, and pulled through. Now, it's the constant scans, biannual doctor appts, and still dealing with the lingering side effects of the treatments. He asks (hypothetically) all the time why he still needs to do this, because he's "fine". I am struck by the length of time between your tumors, and it fills me with fear and also with determination to keep after him to keep his appts. I will be praying for you and your family, and lifting you up to St. Peregrine and St. Joseph. Thank you for your honesty.
Thanks for tuning in, and be assured of my prayers for your husband, you, and your family.