We went to Iowa City yesterday to meet with our team of specialists. I love my radiation doctor! He explained the process so clearly and answered all of my questions. I will start radiation probably the last week Monday of March. It will last 7 weeks and I will go Monday-Friday to Iowa City. I choose to complete this at Iowa City instead of Burlington, because the machines are much different; the one in Iowa City is more precise and targeted, hopefully causing less damage to healthy cells. My Grandpa and Grandma Phillips, who have experience with the Iowa City Cancer Center due to her having cancer, have offered to take me to treatments 2-3 days per week. This takes a large burden off of us, because it is going to get expensive to drive to Iowa City each day. I'm super excited that they will be taking me some, too, because growing up we weren't all that close. This will be such a wonderful opportunity to get closer to them! So, I will work on getting a schedule made up, with who will fill in the gaps on the other days of the week. I'm hoping we can find friends and family to drive me up in my vehicle the other days.
After that wonderful appointment with radiation, we met with an older doctor in Chemotherapy. With my type of brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma grade 3), there is not a great deal of research that's been done in the field. For a grade 4 cancer of the same type, doctors have a very clear cut action plan, but not so much with my grade 3. After the doctor tried explaining the cancer and the research (in a way that was way above our heads), we almost left the appointment more confused than we entered. But we asked to talk to the nurse and she really cleared up lots of our fears and questions. The downfalls to doing them simultaneously is that it may lower my immune system, so we would need to be more careful about keeping me healthy and it may cause some issues with low blood platelet counts. The main reason to do chemo, in conjunction with radiation is: They were able to remove 95% of the tumor during surgery, but there is around 5% left and the cells may choose to divide quickly, causing another tumor to form. The chemo may help kill these extra cancer cells before they split. If I choose to go the chemo route, as well, I would start on the first day of radiation. It involves just taking one chemo pill per night before bed, at the same time. I would do chemo all throughout radiation, so for 7 weeks. And then for another 6 months after radiation.
This chemotherapy plan is better than some, in my opinion, because at least I get to take it at home and if I start feeling bad, at least I would be home and comfortable. The more I think and pray about it and do my own research, the more I lean towards just doing it and tackling this cancer with everything we've got!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends! Please continue to pray for God to be glorified through this situation!