Thursday, December 12, 2013

LUMPECTOMY FOR BEGINNERS . . . the radiation oncologist visit and . . .

All I promised my surgeon was that I'd talk to Dr. Sands.  I parked in Radiation Patient and opened the door to a blank wall and big black letters: CANCER, indicating I was right next to the radiation department.  The receptionist was cheerful;  I liked the holiday decorations and the very casual dress code. Of course, more than the usual snowdrift of paper work.

They put me in the chilly exam room, making sure I had the correct height chair and even a warm blanket, for watching a 15 minute video on radiation.  That sounded like way too much information in one dose, but I watched.  Nothing too new, but the woman in the video didn't seem to have any protection on other parts of her head and torso.

The doctor came in dressed less casually than the office staff, and carrying a lot of paper.  I was armed with  a list of my questions on whether I could handle radiation considering my whole medical picture.  At the end of my paper were some statistics I got from Sloan Kettering interactive page.  They indicated that I'd better get some radiation and medicine to protect my future.

The doctor gave me a sort of orientation - the radiation facility belongs to the hospital, and so on.  Then she presented some studies indicating the long-term life extension and freedom from recurrance that radiation can give.

In between there somewhere I asked my questions and told my hesitations.

Then I mentioned that the woman in the video didn't seem to have the rest of her body protected.  Dr. Sands said there were no lead blankets because the radiation would go right thru them  This was not reassuring.
She explained, drawing a diagram, that they protect the lungs by using very precisely aimed radiation.  Her drawing emphasized that only one slight edge of a lung would be involved--being right next to the last bit of the target radiation area.

Somewhere deep inside I thought again "it's not so targeted that personnel can stay in the room!"

She went through the side effects list, long-term and short, and told me these were not going to happen to me.  She mentioned the huge population in which one or two persons might have serious side effects.

I read one more side effects story, and she said:  It's your decision; but you have to believe what I tell you. These things are not going to happen to you."
 By the time we were finished, my mouth just said:  I'm tempted to say Yes.  Somehow my fear had gone away.

She said  There would be three weeks of radiation followed by four days of specific focus on one small area that had been diagnosed.  So I said yes

 Then she told me we would go in right then to work on "staging,"establishing my exact position to lie in every day to make sure the rays would go to the right places.

Next post:  the staging in the radiation room.

No comments: