Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CyberKnife: Futuristic Treatment NOW

CyberKnife is robotic radiosurgery which offers a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body.  It delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy.  An expert team of radiation oncologists, specialized surgeons, radiation therapists, medical physicist and a specialized oncology nurse care coordinator all collaborate together.  Mom is in great hands with the people at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

The radiologist, Doctor Jones, was surprised as we were to find that the cancer had waited this long to come back.  We would have expected this at about two or 3 months out but not 13 months.  Another testament to the strength and aggressive nature of neoendocrine carcinoma.  The tumor in mom’s brain grew fast (app 1.2 mm per week) and would have killed her by Christmas had we not caught it two weeks ago. 

Mom will have another MRI and CTScan next week.  The team of specialists will actually place those images together and map out the exact coordinates for the cyberknife. During the cyberknife the system will be taking pictures all along the way to track progress.

The procedure is painless.  She will need to wear another soft-plastic mask to keep her head perfectly still.  The mast will be secured to the table for about an hour and a half.  Fortunately we will only do this three times.  That’s all – no multiple weeks, 5-day-a-week visits to radiation. Three days is all it will take.

Dr Jones is very positive about the outcome.  Mom is strong and her will to fight is what’s going to continue getting her through this.

You may be asking what we asked:  what was the point of the radiation treatments to the brain that mom had to endure at the end of her regular chemo and radiation?  We knew at that time that the studies showed that with no radiation to the brain the patient has a 76% chance of it occurring in the brain.  But with radiation the chances reduce to about 10%.  Not bad odds – obviously the odds were against us BUT we got this quickly and we are on the road to success.

Several side effects are still occurring and we do not have definitive answers as to their cause.  Mom is experiencing some day-time hallucinations expected to be a side effect of the medication. They occur frequently throughout the day but are not scary nor do they cause her anxiety.  She has seen people, animals, even a team of white horses going past their window (they live on the second floor, mind you). This is a little unsettling but we are assured that these should subside as the medication is decreased. 

Mom’s eyesight has been affected the most. A majority of the damage occurred in the last two weeks the tumor was in her brain.  She has limited field of vision in the right eye with floaters and several dark spots.  Sometimes it is difficult for her to reach for objects to her right without turning almost past the object in order to see it.  She has no pain or discomfort – it is just annoying.  We don’t anticipate mom being able to return to driving for at least 8 to ten months and there is the possibility that she may never be able to drive again.  Surprisingly enough (or not so much, for Mom) this does not bother her. She is happy to be alive and has been overcome with emotions including joy, happiness and an overall sense of peace.

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