Even before starting radiation treatment I met with Dr. Brown. Everything was explained to me in detail as to what would happen. Later I was taken into the room where I would be given my treatment. I was shown exactly what would happen and how it would happen. I couldn’t get over how big the radiation therapy machine was and got a picture of my dad staying by it. We then went through a dry run of what needed to be done every time I would have radiation therapy. I would come into the room in a hospital gown and lie down on the x-ray table. The machine was then brought over and placed exactly in the same spot every time. To do this I was given 3 small blue tattoo dots on my body. One was placed on my chest and one was placed on each side of my body. After they got it lined up perfectly, Dr. Brown would leave the room and turn on the machine for how long was determined. That is what happened to me twice a day for three weeks.
Dr. Brown (the radiologist) and Dr. Marks (my oncologist) determined that doing two short treatments a day would be better for my other organs than doing one long treatment a day. It was thought that two short exposures with so many hours in-between the two treatments (I believe it was 6 hours) would do less harm than one long exposure. I do not know if there is any scientific data that agrees or disagrees with this, but it was what my doctors thought would be best. So a day and time was set when I would start my radiation therapy treatments. I would be getting radiation therapy treatment Monday through Friday and was given the weekend to recuperate.
The procedure was as simple as getting an x-ray twice a day. What wasn’t simple was the side effect of the radiation treatment. At first I noticed that I was tired more than usual. I would feel as if I hadn’t had enough sleep, run down, or exhausted. So I started taking naps in-between treatments. As time went on I became nauseated, feeling sick to my stomach, and would often find myself eating chicken noodle soup and crackers. The first week of treatment wasn’t too bad; I got through it and was able to rest up over the weekend. The second week was a little tougher. I felt myself feeling run down more quickly. I was exhausted all the time and wanted to sleep longer than time allowed. It was also getting harder to want to eat anything at all. The nausea was a constant struggle. I remember having to force myself to eat something everyday. The chicken soup turned into chick broth and sometimes all I could eat was a piece of toast.
The side effects from the radiation therapy treatments were harder to get over that following weekend. Sometimes I am amazed that I was able to make the drive back to Minneapolis from Rochester, MN the second weekend. My body was weak, exhausted and all I could think about was sleep. My final week of radiation therapy treatment was finally here. All I wanted to do was get it over with and start feeling normal again. I was tired of the constant nausea and always feeling exhausted. I know I could do this and it was the last step in my treatments for Mesothelioma. After the first day of treatment I knew I was in trouble. I was sleeping way more than usual and was way too tired to make anything to eat. On the occasions I was able make something to eat, I was unable to keep anything down. I was constantly sick to my stomach and too tired to even want to eat anything. I could feel my body shutting down and didn’t know how to stop it.
I vaguely remember having a conversation with my mom and remember how surprised I was when she showed up the next day. My mom flew in from Utah ready to help me in anyway she could. She was very helpful to me and would make me things to eat and make sure I was up to get to my appointments. I wish I could say I improved while she was there but my body had other plans. I had eventually become very dehydrated. Even with my moms help I couldn’t keep anything down. The radiation treatments made it impossible for me not to feel nauseated all the time. I spent more time in the bathroom than I care to remember. Eventually I was admitted into the hospital for dehydration and ended up having my last few treatments in the hospital.
I do not regret doing the radiation therapy treatments. I regret not having someone go down with me to Rochester, MN while I was undergoing treatments. I would like to think that had someone been there to make me meals and make sure I was eating enough I wouldn’t have ended up in the hospital. Radiation therapy treatments made me more tired than I had ever been and nauseated all the time.
It was only for 3 weeks small weeks and how can you compare that to a longer lifetime?