The appointment with the radiation oncologist, Pat Bowden, rolled around. I feel it was worth the wait. He confirmed that I was a suitable candidate for stereotactic radiation therapy. This is on account of having fewer than five metastases, and pretty good urinary continence. The main points covered:
- Stereotactic treatment is radiation therapy with a small, very focused target. A smaller dose of radiation is involved than previously, with few side effects (mostly fatigue).
- Bone metastases are easier to treat than those in lymph nodes, for the reason that the former don’t move around.
- The treatment goes for a fortnight, five days a week, for half an hour or so each day. Most of this time is setting up so that the beam is focused on the precise area. The radiation only takes about ten minutes.
- I can drive myself in and home. The cost of car parking is refunded. Alternatively the hospital is on the no. 75 tram.
- The success or otherwise of the treatment is determined by the number of microscopic cancers present afterwards. These don’t show up on the MRSA PET scans because they are so small.
- 25% of patients need hormone therapy after this treatment.
- Patients fall into one of three categories, depending on what happens after treatment:
- limited number of spots or no spots (“spots” being oncology-speak for metastases)
- lots of new spots develop over time
- a few spots develop, which are then treated by another cycle of radiation. Repeat as required.
- The next step is measurement, as part of which some tattoos are drawn on to assist in positioning the beam. I expect this will be happening later this week.
- Following this, treatment begins. I have to have another PSA test the day beforehand. This gives them a baseline, so that the success or otherwise of the treatment can be determined.
- I can resume Pilates, and Pat is happy for me to continue with weights. (The type of spots I have makes the bones stronger rather than weakening them.) Maintaining bone density is a good thing to do.
- Given favourable results, travel should be possible at the end of the treatment.
So I am guardedly optimistic of making some progress. I expect to hear from the measurement staff this week. Treatment should begin the week after. I am seeing Jeremy, the urologist, on 21st.
I guess the fact that I can have this treatment is due to the progress I have made in areas like the urinary continence, and recovery from the operation in general. I have been doing more, because I have felt up to doing more, and sitting around is no fun when you feel as if you could be active. I have done a lot of steps this week, fiddled around in the garden, done a lot of shopping and cooking, and will do some repairs to one of the external blinds tomorrow.
I have also been making some progress on improving the reception on the FM tuner. As a vintage piece of gear, this comes equipped with spade-type antenna terminals, to which a T shaped antenna is connected. (This is basically two pieces of ribbon wire attached to each other, a slightly more sophisticated version of the old rabbit’s ears antenna.) ABC FM reception is fine, but 3MBS has a bit of hiss, even with the multiplex filter on. I would like to connect instead to the TV antenna, in the hope that that pulls in more signal. After some research, I conclude that this requires a 75 to 300 ohm converter to get the antenna terminals to accept a coaxial cable. Bunnings has just the thing, so I shall head there tomorrow to acquire one of those and several metres of blind cord.