Thursday, June 18, 2015

Last Day of Radiation

I can't believe I let June 15th come and go without mentioning it here.

Monday the 15th, was the last day for radiation or TomoTherapy as it is properly called.
Rich's daughter Stephanie came with Dennis and Ariel so we could all be together for the 'event'.

We kept things pretty low key while in the waiting room.  I've watched and waited for nearly seven weeks for this day to come and I notice that other patients were very quiet about their last radiation treatments and we followed suit.

We ran into the 'woman' we met last week as Rich came out of the treatment room.  We hugged and I heard her first name called by the nurse.  She was in day 14, she had just finished her 3rd chemo.

She told me that she still had my email address and 'almost' wrote to me.  I shrugged and said, "It is there if you need it."

Nurse Jackie took our entourage down the hall to Dr. Witek's exam room.  Dr. Witek came in and looked around.  Oncologists often see the family with the patient and they say the better support a patient had, the better the outcome.

Rich introduced everyone and then Dr. Witek examined Rich telling him congratulations on filling up the paper...meaning, making all of the radiation treatments.
He then turned to the kids and said "This is going to be fun, watch me try and look into your Grandpa's mouth!  He can't stick out his tongue and say AHHH at the same time! It is pretty funny!"

Rich wrapped a piece of gauze around his tongue and pulled it out.  Dr. Witek looked surprised and took a look into his mouth at the tonsil that had the tumor.

He stood back and laughed.  "Rich, you are a man of your word!  It looks good! Nothing there I can see.  The lymph node has shrunk.  If I had to flip a coin I'd say we did it."
He paused.
"Of course cancer is an interesting thing.  There is always the chance that we didn't get one or two stray cells okay?  But I'm thinking we got it. We'll do a PET scan in 3 months because otherwise your radiation will 'heat' up the PET scan and give false readings.  Questions?"

"Should you take my tonsil out doc?" Rich asked.
"Good question and no we won't unless that happens to be a last resort if the cancer came back.  Too much possibility of bleeding and risk. Oh and I think your PEG tube can go in a few weeks too."

"Yes!" Rich exclaimed, "I can get rid of Miss Peggy!"

We finally left, our whole group was feeling elated.  Rich could still eat almost normally but the pain was there.  He still aspirated often while drinking water and the coughing fit he had afterwards was quite awful.

If someone had told me a few weeks ago that I'd be walking out of the UW Carbone Cancer center with Rich feeling pretty good and able to walk, talk, eat, and drink...I'd have told them they were absolutely nuts.

We went out to celebrate with the kids at Perkins and on the way home I took a detour and went to Old Hyde Mill to take some photos.

We got home after 5pm and took naps.  I was emotionally exhausted yet happy. No more daily radiation appointments.

Let the follow up appointments begin.