Friday, January 9, 2009

Hello from Cancerland

Hello, all. Thank you for checking my blog.

Wednesday was tracer-dose day, in which the "standard" dose of radioactive samarium-153 was injected (the standard dose being the same that is currently given for pain palliation in some cancers).

Since then I've had four hour-long body scans to measure how well I'm releasing the radiation. Lots of time to think!
And there's nothing quite like being checked with a Geiger counter.

That was a 30-millicurie dose of samarium-153. The biggie will be around 2100 (70X the standard dose) !

I keep saying to myself:
"I do like green eggs and ham. I do like them, Sam-ari-am!"

And oh, by the way...
In the course of checking out the overall orthopedic end of things, it was discovered that the spot on one of my thoracic vertebrae is slightly impinging upon the flow of spinal cord fluid. I started to panic, but then remembered that I'm under universal orders to take courage (more on that in another posting).

Also, the lesion on my left femur is large enough that the docs don't want to trust entirely to the samarium's shorter-wavelength curative effects. (It's complicated.)
So we're 'working in' five days of traditional radiation treatments next week before the megadose.

I like this belt-and-suspenders approach! Blast the big guys with a known effective treatment, then seek and destroy the ones too small to see with imaging tools with the samarium. (There are likely numerous "micrometastases.")

It takes a (global) village...
It is extraordinarily reassuring to know that several brilliant people have put their heads together on my case. People of diverse geographical heritages, too: My main researcher/doctor is Japanese-American. The brainy young radiation oncologist, who is such a compassionate and excellent communicator, is apparently Chinese-American. The head of nuclear medicine, another expert at TLC, is from Spain. The head of the stem cell transplant department is from Germany. We have met nurses and technicians from around the Philipines, India, and other places around the world.

And then there are the people I'll likely never meet: the physicists and dosimetrists who will painstakingly analyze my bone images to determine how to direct the external-beam radiation and calculate exactly how much samarium they will end up giving me.

There's a reason this place is such a medical mecca.

There: I've broken my promise not to go on and on! Oy!
Thanks for reading.



  1. What a great photo of you today! You look radiant (no pun intended!) Keep up that courage and that strong attitude about blasting everything through the mixed approach. We're all cheering you, praying you and wishing you on!!

  2. Consider that there are many more prayers than micrometastases... at times, every breath is a prayer. With radiant power from the world "above" and "below", the universal orders to take courage make sense to me!

  3. Hello Sally. Griff and Evelyn barging in on your blog.

    As Janet noted, the prayers for you and yours out there are almost beyond numbering.

    As you noted, it is amazing how many different cultures and countries are involved in the work at MDACC. Some of our favorites, operating the apheresis unit, got their initial training in the Philippines. They run that place like Marine drill sergeants, yet are kind and caring. And we are forever grateful.

    Evelyn will be back at MDACC in February for a visit to the Lymphoma-Myeloma Center. We were so impressed by our transplant team. We now are on an annual visit with them.

    Take care and know you have a world --a really big village -- supporting you.

  4. Sally,

    Brenda and I send our love and best wishes. We know of so many friends who have had the courage to follow the same path you are now taking, and are living happy, hopeful and cancer-free lives. You will too.

    Think of all those little cancer cells leaving your body - they just will.


  5. Sending you lots of IV League love and luck. Bon Courage!!