I have had seventeen radiation treatments so far and I am sure it won't come as a surprise to many that I can't wait until they are finished. As I have been told, the radiation has had many side-effects, including fatigue and pain/discomfort. The fatigue is so bad some days that I wake up after a full nights sleep feeling like I got none at all. I tolerate the fatigue pretty well, with the help of coffee, and it doesn’t bother me that much. The worst part is the pain in my throat/chest. Since they are treating my upper spine with radiation, I am getting a dose that goes in through the front of my chest and this causes short term damage to the esophagus. Swallowing certain types of foods causes a discomfort in my entire chest that is difficult to describe, but I hate it (really takes the fun out of eating!). The medication they put me on for it doesn't seem to work, so I just have to tuff it out I guess. It should only last 7-10 days after the treatment stops. All in all, I had 14 treatments on my rib (they are done with) and I have three more to go on my spine and then I am done with radiation, hopefully for good (fingers crossed!). I ended up hurting my back (don't know how) in March and when I showed up for radiation crippled and unable to get off the table under my own power they immediately sent me to see a doctor who ordered an MRI of my lower spine for the next day. I was sure it was just a muscle and it ended up being a disc injury, but it's funny how quickly they act when you have cancer and a new pain. It lasted about 10 days.
I am proud to say that through a month of daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy I haven't missed a day of work and continue to just push forward. I am convinced that the key to beating this cancer is to stand up to it by living my life as if I wasn’t sick and I think it's working. That combined with very talented doctors, lots of prayers and the love and support of my family and friends is exactly what's got me this far. I tell myself that every day and I firmly believe it.
April is a very important month. First, on 4/12, it will be six months since my diagnosis. This is an important milestone for me, personally, as much of the research I have done on cardiac angiosarcoma seems to point to five or six months as the average survival time after diagnosis (other studies won't give an average since it's so rare). Of course, there are so many variables that can impact that (and those statistics) that we've learned to take them with a grain of salt. Each case is very individual and so far everything, with a few minor exceptions, has gone my way so far. Another reason April is significant is that at the end of the month I will have complete follow-up scans, and meet with my oncologist in Boston to find out what's next. The options should be another 12 weekly chemo treatments or open-heart surgery. I'm not sure what to wish for this time…so I will just hope for clean scans and more shrinkage of the tumor and let the doctor decide the next steps.