You're looking at a photo of a waveguide from a radiation therapy machine, like the one that will be aimed at me rather frequently in the next few weeks.
My wife and I visited the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver today to talk to the radiation oncologists about the treatment they'll be giving me for my colorectal cancer, and for me to get a chest X-ray. The upcoming treatment will be delightfully aggressive. It will start soon. It will suck, and I will suffer. And through this spring and summer, we're going to kick that fucking cancer out of my fucking body.
Here's the plan right now:
- Dr. Usmani, the radiation oncology fellow who saw me today along with Barry the third-year medical student, thinks that my cancer started in my sigmoid colon, and moved through my lymph system down (which is the opposite of the usual direction) into my rectum. So far there are no signs upward towards my liver or elsewhere in my digestive system, which is good.
- Next Tuesday, March 20, a team of cancer specialists will discuss my case and confirm the planned course of treatment. On March 22, I'll see Dr. Kenneke, who will talk to me about chemotherapy. I'll have another CT scan the day after that.
- The last week of March, or at the latest the following week, I will begin a course of five weeks of radiation therapy with Dr. Ma, five days a week, where I will lie face down on a table and get those waveguides aimed at me, firing ionizing high-frequency electromagnetic waves at my cancer for two minutes, paralyzing and shrinking it in preparation for later surgery.
- In order to set up for the radiotherapy, I will have dot-like marker tattoos placed on my skin so that I can be exactly positioned using lasers before each treatment. (They will be permanent: my dad still has his, from when he had radiation treatment 35 years ago.)
- At the same time I will also begin a course of chemotherapy which will treat my body systemically and further kick the shit out of any cancer cells hanging around.
- I'll have side effects from both treatments, which will get progressively worse until a couple of weeks after the treatment stops in early May.
- I'll then wait a few weeks to recover, go to the see The Police play in Vancouver, and prep for surgery.
- In late June, Dr. Brown and other surgeons will remove part of my sigmoid colon and most of my rectum, and do their best to reconstruct things down there to try to avoid my having a permanent colostomy bag.
- I'll have more chemotherapy post-surgery, to kill any straggling cancer cells and get rid of it once and for all, with any luck.
- I'll spend a couple of months recovering, by which time it will be autumn.
There you have it. I don't think I missed anything, and I'm still letting the plans soak in. They're good ones. Bring it the hell on.