I visited the radiation oncologist at Buderim twice this week. Buderim is a nice part of the world in the Sunshine Coast hinterland an hours drive away.
The guy who did the last two treatments was not available so the first meeting with the new oncologist was long and detailed. The new onco was not rushed and seems to be the right person. Surgery to remove the tumour was eliminated due to the proximity to critical bits (heart, lungs, throat, etc). Even a biopsy is considered too dangerous.
The plan is to administer the same dosage as was previously applied to my back (ten doses over ten days). It was four years ago and my back is still mostly fine, so fingers crossed for a similar outcome this time around. I had limited side effects before. However, the location and size of the tumour (53mm x 48mm) means I may not be so lucky this time. Potentially the lungs, stomach and throat could all be affected. If they are, the side effects could be cough and shortness of breath, nausea, and pain or difficulty swallowing. All short term and manageable.
They can apply a higher dose of radiation to really knock the tumour, but the risk of collateral damage is too high.
As with all significant medical procedures there are also some major potential complications, but I do not want to dwell on them. Scary.
And, of course, this treatment may shrink the tumour, and may relieve pressure on the left vocal cord, but I still may not get my voice back. That would be disappointing.
We also discussed the need for the speech pathologist. Apparently they may be able to assist with managing swallowing food and liquids.
The following day I returned to set up the radiation treatment. This involved applying three tattoos. Yes, I “got ink done” – again. One in the middle of the chest and one under each arm. These are used with lasers to help put me in the same position each time treatment is applied. Scans were taken. All is ready.
Now I just have to wait to find out when the radiation treatment can be done and when I can see the speech pathologist.
I did have a pretty severe anxiety attack when I got home from the first meeting, not sure whether treatment was the right thing to do. However, I am now comfortable that I am doing the right thing. I hope so!
Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil