Wednesday, May 13, 2009


We're back from our trip to Fairfax Hospital. The meeting with Dr. Tonnesen went well; I recorded that session, but will probably offer only a summary of it. Most of the information we heard today amounts to a review of what we already learned during trips to the National Cancer Institute and to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Mom also had her radiotherapy mask made; the procedure involved the making not only of the mask, but also of the neck mold, which is shaped to Mom's dimensions to allow her head and neck to settle as comfortably as possible in an inclined position. The goal of all this is to allow Mom to remain comfortably still during the radiation treatment. As I noted in a comment to my brother in the previous post, I must have misunderstood the mask's purpose: while the mask is indeed there to aid in the precise aiming of the radiation, it is not a surrogate for Mom's face: to the contrary, it is to be worn during every treatment, and its sole function is to keep Mom still.

Mom is slated to begin treatment on May 21. This is currently a tentative date, but it's very likely to be the official one. Her radiotherapy will occur in the early to mid-afternoon for six weeks after the start date. Dr. Tonnesen wants to take "baseline" scans a couple months after the treatment is over, but we'll be taking Mom to NCI right after the 6-week treatment to see Dr. Fine and his people; they'll be scanning her to create their own baseline. I informed Dr. Tonnesen of this, and he said that that would be no problem, even though the NCI scan would be occurring so soon after the radiation.

Upshot: the ball is rolling. Mom knows to expect major, patchy hair loss to begin sometime around the third week of radiotherapy. She also knows to expect a long list of possible side effects resulting from the radiation and/or the Temodar treatment (I need to review that list; we have it on a sheet they gave us). We'll all be there for her during this trying period, but what this means for friends and non-immediate family is that it will be all the more important to plan their visits instead of just dropping in suddenly. Mom is likely to be very tired, especially during that initial 6-week period. Dr. Tonnesen noted that, during that time, many patients seem almost to be regressing instead of progressing, but that this is a normal part of the process.

OK... gotta go make dinner. More later.



Maven said...

Please email me and let me know what your mom's favorite color is. I feel so impotent, so unable to render any type of relief; however, I would like to crochet a chemo/radiation cap for her, and hope to do so in a cheerful color.

Kevin said...

Thanks for your sentiments.

Mom doesn't have a favorite color, but for what it's worth, she's a winter. Strong, solid colors are more her thing than pattern designs, though she has been known to go for wacky leopard prints, etc., on occasion.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Red, similar to the color of the Knockout variety of roses - strong greens, blues, yellows - cerain pinks - black and white has long been her favorite combination for clothes...