Wednesday, March 23, 2016


So yesterday was the day for the 1st of 5 Cyberknife treatments for my Dad.  This is just an amazing way of delivering extremely high doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy.  It has been around since 2007 but most of the applications were with brain tumors.  It is now being used for tumors all over the body,  primary as well as metastatic.  The big downside is while it has high success for killing the tumors,  it cannot do anything about preventing the spread,  so it is not curative by itself.  It is often combined with chemo or other adjuvant therapies for cures.   It is a good option because instead of a month of radiation appointments,  it is delivered in 1-5 doses dependant on size and type of tumor.

The radiation oncologists chose to do 5 doses,  42 minutes a piece delivered on 5 days-Tues/Thurs followed by Mon-Wed-Friday next week.  Although it takes 42 minutes to deliver the radiation,  the actual time can be up to 2 hours because the machine only fires when the tumor is in the correct place.  Patrick Swayze in 2009 underwent these treatments for pancreatic cancer and it extended his life about 14 months, in which he was able to go back to work.  His tumor had already metastasized to the liver so the cancer had already started spreading prior to the treatment.  We are thankful that the most recent knowledge we have is that Dad's tumor has been localized.  Only God knows the number of his days so we trust Him for what the future holds.

My father has elected NOT to do chemotherapy.  Truth be told,  chemotherapy can hurt as much as it helps.  It destroys the immune system,  which is what is needed to fight the cancer in the first place.  Also,  some of the medication given to help with the side effects on top also suppress the immune system.  It is a big catch 22.  We are so thankful that we have a powerful, loving God who controls all things, and uses what He wills to accomplish His will.  My Dad has been using some alternative measures to help fight the cancer.  He chose Cyberknife because of the number of treatments and no need to do anything special but lay down in his normal clothing for a few hours.

His palliative care team is phenomenal.  Compassionate and caring,  they work to provide him the best quality of life as he has elected not to do conventional treatment.  Since the last time I was in Plano,  he has been up and doing small tasks around the house, and eating more.  He also went shopping and ate out at a restaurant.  This has been with the help of medication prescribed by the team.  He still cannot drive since he has narcotics on board.

Today,  my Dad is doing well after his first treatment.  For the 1st time in a few days he had to take a breakthrough pain medication however.    We are told he will get more tired as the therapy progresses as it has a cumulative effect,  side effects usually starting after the 3rd or 4th treatment.  I remember this happening with my Mom after her radiation treatments,  she got really weak before getting better.   They told us the effects feel like the flu and that means the treatment is actually working as the body fights the interleukins released by the body to deal with the cancer cells dying.

Right now he has an IV of normal saline running.  My Dad says it is like being in the hospital with me here.  He has his own personal hospital nurse to monitor him and decide what to do.  I was made for such a time as this.   I started his IV a yesterday as he was a bit dry, and it was a bit of a challenge as he was dehydrated and he had started taking a steroid.  It is good to know that my training has not gone away,  especially since I last started IV's 9 years ago.  I wish all cancer patients could have this kind of care at home, although my Dad has a home health nurse,  2 10 minute visits a week really doesn't give you the real story.  Of course,  not all patients need this type of care,  my Dad is just one who does, and the Lord provided.

My family has had its own personal struggles as life as changed.  I hope to post on my kids in the future as we would really appreciate prayer for them as well.

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