...25 trips to the hospital. We were wrong. We started the week before Thanksgiving after a month long delay because we got off on the wrong foot. The initial conference with the oncologist was way way rushed. After the nightmarish bone marrow biopsy, we met and he went through the 10 minute crash course on multiple myeloma, which left Notbillybob's head spinning...could we get a second opinion? What about the tumor on the outside?(The one the surgeon left alone) What about the tumor in the pelvis? Other side of the ribcage? Long story short, to see the oncologist for a second visit took a month...Then Notbillybob (bobby) caught THE MOTHER OF ALL COLDS. 29 days of fever and coughing blood. Sharon called the hospital... should we just get started and play it by ear? No. Wait until the cold symptoms subside. They wanted a commitment, with as few absences as possible, so we waited. The cold slowly subsided, They put us in the schedule... and then we started, and little by little we got into our groove. I say WE because Notbillybob's wife, Sharon drove most days. I was just along for the ride. Well, after 10 treatments, the tiredness set in. Especially for her. Like a new part time job. Sandwiches from home for lunch, (who can afford to spend all the Christmas money on rubber chicken? Then the pain. Notbillybob feeling like a roasted ham most days. Kind of like a sun burn inside your guts. He made a big mistake in eating jalapenos one night. Ooh, the burn. So, they asked the doc if the stomach was getting radiation. They said "lets pull up your treatment plan... Yes, see here, inside this red line. The treatment plan showed that it was. The innermost red line is the most radiation, the outer one is the least. The green one is in the middle. A good part of the stomach is even inside the blue line.
The pain was accounted for. They told us that they were also concerned with his platelet count. It was going down again. Down to 37! (Low is 150) It has since stabilized at 40. The thing is that the white cells, red cells, hematocrit are all low. Way low. Bilirubin is elevated. INR is elevated. Not billybob began wearing a mask to treatments. Don't need cooties at a time like this.
Then the really cold weather set in. I know, I know- it doesn't really cause colds and "death of pneumonia" like our moms used to say, but when you have cancer of the immune cells, and then your white cell count goes in the toilet as well...
Notbillybob is going to stay a hermit for the foreseeable future.
But SMILE! Besides it being NFL playoff time,
New Years eve was treatment number 25. Graduation day! Graduation from LINAC U!
(LINAC is a Linear Accelerator, an IMRT radiation therapy machine)
Interesting video about how it works. The collimator leaves open and close to the exact shape of the tumor, in order to spare good tissue while destroying cancer tissue. This used to be done manually in the past with hand made lead plates. Very slow and not so accurate.
PLEASE CLICK ON THE VIDEO IN ORDER TO SEE IT
WHOLE WITHOUT THE RIGHT SIDE CUT OFF
Below, she explains how a multi leaf collimator is much much more accurate. Also, the time on the treatment platform is much reduced.