Treatment Update — End of Week 2

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Hiya everyone.

I’ve just finished my second week (of six) of daily treatments at the Stanford Cancer Center.  Currently, I’ve just been receiving head and neck radiation doses to annihilate any stray melanoma cells that may have remained in my neck after the successful surgery in early May.

A typical day entails Sammy and I driving the 45 miles down to Stanford from our house in El Cerrito, which usually takes about an hour and ten minutes if the traffic is flowing smoothly.  Then I hop on the radiation table, underneath what I would describe as a giant stand mixer.  The technicians slide me around on the table to make sure I’m aligned and then slap a hard plastic mesh mask that bolts to the table to hold my head still to make sure the doses are directed exactly where they’re supposed to be headed.  Then they take an x-ray to compare with the scans used during my treatment plan to make any final adjustments of my position and then it’s go time!  The actual radiation treatment last about 3 or 4 minutes and I don’t feel a thing.  The whole process usually takes 10-15 minutes and then we’re back in the Forester to head home.  LOTS of driving.  Sam has been preparing for a lecture she’s giving next week, so I drove myself to treatment 3 days this week.  Nice to feel a little independent and to give Sam a break from the 3-hour, middle-of-the-day time suck.

So far the side effects of the radiation haven’t been too bad.  I have a constant taste of salt in my mouth, but food tastes normal when I’m eating it.  I’m starting to get a bit red on my right side from the radiation and my mouth is pretty sore when I first wake up in the morning, or if I eat something sharp or rough.   The radiation is directed mostly at my surgery site, but some of those pesky photons go astray and hit my mouth and tongue.  I’m feeling kind of like a mild sunburn on the inside of my mouth.  Ice cream definitely helps that situation as does the prescription mouthwash (but that doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as ice cream!).

Monday (6/25) I start getting the infusions of high dose interferon alongside the radiation treatment.  I’m not sure how that’ll effect me, but I’m not particularly looking forward to it.

We’re counting down the daily trips left to Stanford on our kitchen menu chalkboard and it currently stands at 20 trips.  Each day brings me closer!

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7 Comments

  1. Shawn Thompson June 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Hey Jeff,
    Thanks for the update buddy! Every day of treatment that goes by brings you one step closer to putting this all behind you. Hang in there!
    - Shawn

  2. Tricia Suvari June 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    Hang in there Jeffrey! Each day brings you closer to better..you and Sam make a great team and I hope this next round is smooth sailing for you. Thinking of you guys everyday and wish you the best! By the way, can’t Sam sweeten up that mouthwash with some of her superior baking skills?
    Love the photo and enjoy looking at your site.

  3. Rich June 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Hope things are on the right track! The least you could ask for is some kind of superpower given your radiation exposure… Something between spidey sense and the ability to grow beards at an alarmingly fast rate?

  4. Pam Lawton June 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Jeffrey, you sure have the right attitude. Look forward to no more treatments and don’t look back. Thinking of you each and every day kiddo. Thoughts and prayers go out to you. Must be nice to have Sam by your side. Good for her.

  5. Libby June 25, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    Glad you are handling things well. Look at the drive as time spent together and it will be less awful. Godspeed!

  6. William Wagner June 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Thanks for the update Jeff!

  7. Marguerite July 6, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    Glad to read about your progress and your treatments.
    Am thinking of you as we’ve been watching the America’s Cup.
    Have enjoyed reading your Blog and looking at your photos.
    Love to you. May the healing be steady and sure.