August 25, 2008

Hi Family,
I know this year hasn’t exactly been dull, but this week kind of tipped the scale for us. Last week I started the actual radiation at Salt Lake Cyber Knife. (Doesn’t that sound a little daunting?) Cyber Knife is the machine that gives stereo tactic radiation. I had lots of questions because they said I would only have 4-5 treatments, that’s a lot different from what other people I know with cancer have had with radiation. So here are the Dr.’s answers to all my questions—and how I understand them.
It is actually classified as Radio Surgery. In pinpoint radiation generally used with this type of tumor has the ability to shoot into the tumor from about 13 angles, and to prevent the radiation from damaging good tissue they will do 30+ day treatments to allow the tissue affected to heal between treatments. This stereo tactic radiation has the ability to shoot into the tumor from up to 150 different angles in one treatment, and each treatment lasts about 1 ½ hours. Actually they said that for my situation this is the only viable option for radiation—because the tumor is so close to the heart and moves with each heartbeat and because it is in the lung it moves every time I breathe as well. That is why they implanted the gold seeds into the tumor a few weeks ago, so they can track it at all times during the treatment.
They did tell me the first day I went in that there were some complications—first was the proximity to the heart and second was that the margins were off because the tumor had grown a little. This was upsetting because we really thought that nothing was growing right now. But that’s why we’re doing radiation to make sure it doesn’t grow anymore. So I’m grateful that we are finally getting it done. It just makes us nervous that it may be growing somewhere else—but we’re not going to think about that right now. It’s amazing the technology that is in place. I can’t even tell you how cool the machine is. It is just like Star Wars with this large robot moving around me and administering radiation so specific that it moves with my every breath and heartbeat. My doctor had practiced radiation oncology for about 20 years, but he only opened his doors with this cyber knife 7 months ago—and he is who my oncologist directed me to.
We are so blessed to have this technology and I feel very fortunate to have been guided to different people who are really taking an interest in my case and trying to help me. It’s been crazy going down to Salt Lake every day while McCady is starting school and we’re farming out our kids and trying to get help driving back and forth through beautiful Utah construction (I’m so glad I don’t have to go down for 30 days!) But at the same time I’m so grateful to have this craziness in our lives. Seeing my little girl, so big, waiting for the bus—and excited to leave me for all day 1st grade and school lunch—just helped me realize that time slips by too fast, so I’m going to make the most out of every second I have.
Love you all—love Anne

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