This past week has been annoying. For some unknown reason, my insurance wouldn’t authorize radiation therapy, so I’ve been on the phone nonstop with insurance folks, the medical group and various departments at UCSF. It finally took my transplant coordinator to step in and have her staff communicate to the insurance provider that they are causing a significant treatment delay for a transplant patient with life-threatening cancer – and now I’m finally approved! Gotta JADE UP!
My first radiation planning appointment will be on Tue, May 24th and Jo Ann has kindly agreed to accompany me again. At this planning appointment, they will perform a CT scan, map out the treatment area, customize an immobilization device and face mask for me to wear during treatment and permanently affix the coordinates of the treatment area with three tattoos on my body so that the lasers can find the exact same area each time. Ugh, why does every mark left by cancer have to be permanent?
Anyway, radiation therapy for me will consist of 15 treatments total, given over the course of 3 weeks, Mon thru Fri. They plan to radiate my mediastinum (center of chest) as far north and south as the disease spread, but only radiate left and right where there are remaining tumors, in order to minimize the impact on my lungs and heart. Side effects include burning and blistering on and in my body, fatigue and possible nausea.
I really want to say “THANK YOU, YOU’RE AN ANGEL!” to my new friend and cancer/chemo/radiation/transplant survivor, who came over to talk to me about his experience, side effects, show me his scars and alleviate much of my fear. Miguel is my inspiration!! Miguel said, “These scars are your medals.”
At this point, I’ll get myself to and from the treatments, but will play it by ear and might need help with transportation later on if the side effects get to be too much. But it would be nice to get some help with meals and to have some friendly visits and walking companions. I’ve been instructed to keep eating liquidy things like soup and smoothies, because my esophagus will be burned on the inside. I’ll also need to force myself to swallow a ball of oatmeal regularly, to prevent my esophagus from permanently sealing shut as it scars.