Radiation Consult

Michele and I have been excited these last two weeks as we saw some light at the end of the treatment tunnel. We still have much work to do and many follow-ups and maintenance visits in the years to come. Today was an introduction to what the Radiation component would involve.

Where the heck is Elevator G?

We spent many days and hours at MD Anderson. We know the order of the elevators increase alphabetically from A-F in the main building as we leave our normal parking garage. As we entered the ICE BOX Walkway to the building, I pulled out my phone to see where we were going today. Main Building first floor, near elevator G.

You have heard me talk about the carpet being marked for public areas. I also know that Elevator F will take you to the observation deck above the hospital. Until today, I had no idea where Elevator G was located. Well, this location access from the main building makes you feel a bit like you snuck in behind the scenes at an amusement park.

First to get there you need to go past Elevator F, Duh, and enter the white shiny hallways. There are few overhead signs as there are in the other areas. But if you look closely, there are some smaller signs on the wall. As we find ourselves following the little signs toward Elevator G, we look down at the end of the hall. Coming toward us are several food services carts, heading out to deliver the meals for the hospital. As you look further down the hall, there is a clear sign ahead that says no entry.

It was at this point; Michele stops someone and says we are lost. They assured us we should press ahead and turn left immediately before that sign. Sure enough. Elevator G and a lobby with a check-in desk.

Meeting the Doctor and staff

A sensation we have at MD Anderson repeatedly is that this is a happy, well trained, loving team. EVERYONE gives that vibe.

Our doctor is Dr Bouthaina Dabaja. Look her up on the internet. What you will find is an incredibly accomplished, well published, world-renowned doctor. Her rewards and honors are plentiful. When she came in and started to tell us about the treatment plan and the process they were going to use to target the lymphoma area in her chest, you just sensed the calmness. When she says that she helped develop the techniques that are not only used here but are guidelines now used around the world, it is a fact. You can see that in her accolades.

After we met her, we had a few hours break before we came back for a “Simulation” of the process they will use. The simulation is a process to let the therapist set you up for the real treatment and give you a dry run to know what to expect. Here is a short video of the process. Gating Radiation Therapy. CLICK THE WORDS

As I recalled the pain and process that my dad went through in radiation many years ago, it was so painful. This is such a major advance. They have developed this process so amazingly to minimize the impact on other organs, like the heart and lungs. I like that they have incorporated visual cues for the patient to know when they are in the right place.

But there is more.

We returned for the simulation and patiently waited in the waiting area. It took longer than expected, but they eventually took Michele back. This is the part that I am still tearing up about as I write this. There were a couple of women that were coming down the hall. One was a current patient, and another was a previous patient.

When the doctors and nurses recognized the previous patient, the room lit up. There were smiles and laughter and hugs. Yes hugs. In this world still paralyzed by Covid, a genuine Love radiated in the room. In the white sterile walls around the areas, you would not expect this. But I watched.

A world-renowned Doctor so well accomplished stopping everything to spend time with a former patient and share hugs and just gentle arm touches. A connection that many salespeople and leaders are “taught” and then try and emulate. This was not fake or taught conditions but true caring. I sat there admiring this from a distance.

And then…

The Doctor re-appears and walks over to me and sits right next to me to show the CT scan from Michele’s simulation. side by side. A friend and care giver. Right there on her phone. She took out the editing tools, circled different things, and let me know how Michele did a wonderful job in the simulation. She circled the heart and the area of treatment to show how with this special board to elevate the patient that they developed it opened the area to allow the targeted spot to have an unobstructed view. And with the process of gating, the moment the computer senses that the space is not optimal, it will pause the radiation until it is back in the zone again.

Then she texts me the picture so that we can have it. Comfort.

Treatment plan

When the doctors give the green light for the treatment it will run for twelve business days at one third of the strength, they normally give to breast cancer patients (there treatment usually goes for 30 days). Mild by those standards. We will have a little over 2 weeks of daily visits (weekdays with weekends off) to the clinic during that time.

We didn’t know what to expect, but we will take this and the team that comes with it.

Whatever these doctors need to do their work, I pray that benefactors continue to support them. It is a true privilege to have these titans of medicine at our bedside.

This Thursday we expect to be inpatient again.

This coming Thursday we will be back in hospital for another long weekend of Chemo. Hopefully, it will be the last. Michele has been feeling really energized these last two weeks. We know that we will have another dip in energy these next thirty days. Michele has always been viewed as a bad ass by a lot of people. I can sense the thunder in the distance as she is about to become a truly fierce force after this moment in time.

6 thoughts on “Radiation Consult

  1. Praying for you Mike stay focused on God so he can give you the strength you need to be by your Wife side. πŸ’™πŸ™β€οΈ

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  2. So thankful for these updates, Mike. Keeping you both in our prayers β€” always! Martha and Derek

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  3. My Pathology labs were located between elevations F and G. My second home. Lol
    Glad to hear everyone there is treating you guys so well. ❀️❀️

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  4. I am over joyed at the amazing team you guys have! State of the art care coupled with the amazing warriors you guys are… πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’• I am excited to read NED I know it’s a done deal my friends πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ kicking butt and taking names!

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