Thursday, September 29, 2011

Post-treatment blues

Meagan is doing fine physically after the gammaknife treatment today. Even though they zapped five tumors instead of the anticipated two. Typically, it takes 24 hours for side effects to emerge. Right now she is just experiencing fatigue.

Emotionally, she was a wreck most of the afternoon. She's got her feet back underneath her at the moment. But it was a pretty big emotional hurricane. The discovery of three new brain tumors emerging in the last ten days is not a good sign. It implies there are many more cancer "seeds" in the brain "soil" just waiting to germinate or already underway. When the load gets large, spot zapping no longer works. So the next, last step to control them would be whole brain radiation. You only get one shot at that. We won't know for another thirty days (the follow-up scan) or if symptoms arise if that is the case, but if one is in to tea leaf reading, you'd bet we will see many more. Whole brain radiation is not a cure, and comes with a set of side effects. Hair loss (which shouldn't be an issue as she will lose it anyway if she starts chemo in ten days), fatigue, nausea (controllable) and 20% of people get immediate mental deficit effects (inability to multi-task, memory issues). We already have enough of that going on - so it is a frightening prospect to her.

It also put the issue of mortality squarely in play and how much time she has left and whether continued treatment is worthwhile. We are also fighting this cancer on many fronts - the cancer is likely growing in the non-treated areas of her spine and in other places. Suffice to say it was a long, draining, and emotionally charged discussion. I spent a lot of time reminding her of her own words in her eloquent emails, especially how she wants this to end assuming it goes that way - with grace, dignity, appreciation and a "lovely" good-by.

I am exhausted. She is spent.

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