OK, they aren’t really going to nuke my head, but I am getting ten sessions of whole brain radiation starting this afternoon. I’ll back up a bit first, however.
Last Sunday I woke up with a headache that nothing would relieve. I tried Advil, then Tylenol, then both together. Even my medical marijuana wouldn’t touch it. I contacted my neurosurgeon’s office, and they set up an MRI to see what was going on. By Thursday I learned that two of my previously treated metastatic brain tumors had started to grow once again. They could not be effectively re-treated with gamma knife because we had gone that route previously. My neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist consulted and decided that whole brain radiation (WBR) was probably my best next step.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I went in and met with Dr. Park, a radiation oncologist at Yale. He and his resident explained all the ins and outs of WBR, and once I agreed to treatment, I was fitted for a face mask. The WBR mask keeps your head positioned in the exact same spot for each treatment. It’s made of a thermoplastic mesh material that is warmed, then molded to your face while it hardens.
I’m hurriedly writing this blog post because a) I know the WBR will make me tired, and b) I know I may lose some cognitive function during and after my treatment. For those who have been following me for a while, you might remember that I originally opted for gamma knife treatment to minimize any loss of my mental faculties. On the bright side, many women I’ve talked to in my online support groups had some memory and concentration side effects from WBR that eventually resolved on their own. We shall see what happens with me. I may be writing blog posts in crayon once I’m through with my treatment.
In the meantime, I’ll be getting ten sessions of WBR. That’s one session every business day for ten days (skipping weekends and Thanksgiving). I asked about taking mematine, an Alzheimer’s drug, during treatment to hopefully reduce the cognitive effects. Dr. Park agreed and my insurance actually approved this expensive and still somewhat experimental (in treating WBR patients) drug.
My next post will probably be on the other side of WBR. Tim and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!