Next Step (Date Unknown)
We're waiting into early next week to find out what kind of schedule we're looking at, but he wants to begin sometime next week. As he described the procedure, it's something like what was done for gamma knife, but we're looking for "gentle destruction" (his term) because lung tissue is so much more delicate than brain tissue. There are the usual times set up for mapping the lesion, and plotting the radiation plan, then I'll be scheduled for 10 sessions of radiation, 15 minutes each. In fact, I'll be getting radiation for as long as the gamma knife procedure took, just cautiously administered over 10 business days! There will be somewhat less concern over the precision aiming, though we'll be locking onto the target with what are known as "tattoos" resembling small dark moles on my chest. I suggested to him the concept of registration marks for printers, and he agreed with that. Potential side effects? I may develop some "sunburn" or darkening of the skin surface, and I may develop pneumonitis, irritation of the lung tissue resulting in coughing and shortness of breath. I don't cough now, and have only had shortness of breath when I exert myself on very, very warm, humid days, so perhaps it will take longer to see that develop. And, because the esophagus is so close to the radiation site for me, I may have some inflammation of the esophagus before this is over. Fortunately these are all controllable. This goes beyond palliative treatment; he expects to see the lesion completely destroyed, which will leave it to me and Dr. G to focus on treating the remaining lung lesions.
For the moment we don't know the schedule, because Dr. V has to coordinate several schedules - his own and the oncology team's, Dr. G's, and that of the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge, Cleveland. Hope Lodge provides housing at no charge for cancer patients and their families when on extended stays in a distant city for treatment; with a 2-1/2 hour drive one way from home to Cleveland Clinic, I certainly qualify for the service. As you can see in this virtual tour, the facility is lovely.
The "no charge" option is becoming vital, though I can for the moment afford the Cleveland Clinic rate at the Doubletree Downtown, Lakeside ($89.00/night for rooms that normally rent for as much as $299.00/night). However, doing restaurant meals on top of about $1000 in hotel costs is getting outside my comfort zone financially. If I can take advantage of the Hope Lodge program and test out the lovely kitchens, I'll be pretty happy. We picked up a flyer on the surrounding area; lots to do to keep myself busy outside of my "15-minute day". Friend M can pursue some grant research that she needs to do, friend B has offered to be my keeper too, so Saint H won't have to be there the whole time.
The sooner I know the schedule and how it affects when I can start on Afinitor (and from that, what my schedule will be with Dr. G), the better I'll feel. Guess I'll start packing books and knitting now so I can be ready to go at a moment's notice. Some things are much more important than clothes ...