Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Treatment

Got the call from Dr. Vermeulen at Seattle Radiology. She reviewed the detailed MRI of Meagan's spine taken last night. Surprise, surprise! She does not want to do Cyberknife on the tumor near her tailbone. She (with Dr. Kaplan's concurrence) wants Meagan to go over to see Dr. Landis at Swedish's Ballard Cancer Institute where they have the latest, greatest, slickest radiation machine ever invented and undergo radiation on ALL TWELVE of her spinal tumors. It's called Tomo Therapy. It's like Cyberknife in that it precisely targets the tumors. But it can do more at a time. And uses real time CT imaging. Hopefully meaning fewer side effects on the surrounding areas. Apparently it's the only one in Seattle.

So we meet that team this coming Monday at 11:00am. I don't know what the treatment schedule will be. Dr. Vermeulen did say, "low and slow". In reading up on the treatment, the typical approach is 5 days a week for 4-6 weeks. Each treatment only lasts about 5 minutes. They do say you experience the same kind of overall side effects extended radiation treatment can bring - fatigue, anemia, and hair loss.

I consider this pretty good news. It is a preemptive strike on the spinal tumors. If it can shrink them, it means they can't grow to do damage or cause pain. It is not a cure and not systemic therapy - it is a way to zap the bad guys before they do bad things. More could emerge, anywhere in her body really. But rather than the wait and see approach we were operating under as of our last visit with Kaplan (because his next option was direct chemo in the spinal column but we have to wait for her brain to calm down from the Gamma Knife treatment), this is action. I like action.

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