Saturday, January 21, 2012

IMRT Finished!!

As of yesterday I completed my radiation treatments at University Medical Center (UMC). These have been going on since my last post on November 21. The radiation was divided up into two sections. The first 23 treatments covered a more widely dispersed area (lymph nodes, seminal vesicles and area around the prostate) and the last sixteen were more specifically concentrated  on the prostate itself.

As far as side effects are concerned they have been relatively minor. The radiation did cause a continuing flare up of hemorrhoids. I actually found out I had hemorrhoids a few years ago when I had a colonsocopy. With the hemorrhoids I experienced painful and difficult bowel movement. I have been using Suppositories (HC), Preparation H and medicated pads (witch hazel) to deal with the hemorrhoids. More frequent urination (caused by radiation irritation of the bladder) was another side effect. There is some fatigue associated with the treatments. However what other folks have experienced these are relatively minor problems.

While the IMRT is a long procedure (39 treatments--five days a week) the actual telling of the results will take much longer. Finding out how effective the radiation has been depends on the PST (Prostate Specific Antigen) count. It will be some months before I will have a reliable PSA count. This is even more complicated because i've had several Lupin shots which artificially reduces the PSA count.

More often than not, I drove myself to the treatments, I did have several folks (some from my local church) take me in on several occasions. This was a real blessing on several levels. First it allowed me to have a day off from the stress of driving and also it provided an excellent opportunity to become acquainted with folks I hadn't known well. Two of my male drivers were prostate cancer survivors. We had a lot in common.

I have continued with my work with Green Valley Recreation through this time. Overall I believe that this treatment regimen will be effective in dealing with the cancer. I feel well (people say I look good-I haven't lost my hair:). Actually I have lost some hair but not where you will see it! I'm looking forward to getting back to a more normal diet (I was put on a low fiber diet) and more frequent exercise. Also I'm looking forward to have more time to work on various projects.

I want to thank each one of you for your thoughts and prayers during this times. I very much appreciate it. I am including a couple of photos with me in one of the radiation machines from which I received my  treatments. One photo shows me in the "bed" just after my treatment. They uses a thick plastic to vacuum seal my lower extremities  to the table (90 pound per inch). The other photo shows the "bed" that was perfectly formed to my body to help precisely target the prostate with the radiation beams. I will probably send out another report when I have more specific results. I do have a follow up doctor appointment for Feb. 22. Once again thanks for your concern and prayers. God bless you.

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