Next blog update will TRY to be posted by Saturday, March 30th, at midnight.
Hello everyone! Sorry I’m late. It turns out working full time (even the modified schedule), and commuting for treatments everyday is more challenging than I anticipated. The challenge is not really on the physical side, but rather on the time management side. With this said, I’m going to go ahead and bump the next update out 2 weeks. I will try to update again on March 30th.
So, lets talk treatments. As I mentioned, the physical side so far is a moot point. I don’t feel anything during the treatment, after the treatment… nothing. I even joked with my wife wondering if this was the biggest money racket ever, and they are healing with placebo effect, not protons. Jokes aside, the doctor told me I probably would not notice any side effects for the first 3 weeks. So far he is correct. Let me describe what how a typical treatment visit goes. Get ready! There is a surprise ending!
I arrive at the proton center and walk in. I have a badge that I scan at a scanner at the front desk. I sit down. Within 5 minutes, a proton lab tech comes and gets me (literally 5 minutes, even if I’m a little early. This place runs the most efficient I’ve ever seen). I go into the proton beam room and lay down on the “table” of the machine in the mold they made of me at the simulation. They line the table up using my tattoo dots. This is just a rough line up process. They then take an x-ray. This x-ray is now on the computer, and they maneuver the x-ray to perfectly overlay the simulation scan. Lets say they have to slide it 1 inch left, 0.5 inches up, rotate 3 degrees… etc. They then hit a button, and the table I’m laying on automatically corrects the exact amount they had to shift the x-ray. The table can move in 6-Axis. Once they shift the table, they take another x-ray to make sure that I’m now perfectly in line with the simulation. At this point, they start the “program”. The proton beam “gun” moves into position. This is not what I pictured at all. The opening of the gun is about 12 inches by 18 inches. There is a lens in the front of it about 2 inches thick. The gun actually stays stationary during the treatment. In an earlier post I thought it was going to be like a 3D printer. Instead, it is actually more like a laser engraver. The gun is in a fixed point, but the proton beam is refracted at various angles to “paint” the tumor area. The depth is still dictated by proton velocity coming out of the centrifuge. The lens I mention is translucent, so I can see up the “barrel” of the gun. It looks like a tunnel heading somewhere, but you can’t see the other end. Now that everything is in position, the technician steps out of the room, and you hear a door bell indicating the proton beam is about to go live. Here it comes!!!!! I’m ready!!!! I’m looking up this gun barrel tunnel (keep in mind its aimed at my chest, but it’s big enough I can see in it. If someone was being treated at a different location on the body, they may not see the lens at all). I’m ready to see flashing lights, particles / protons flying everywhere…. Still waiting… Still waiting… about 30 seconds pass and the technician is back in the room. I’m thinking “o know! the machine is broke!”. Here is the surprise ending I promised, cause it surprised me. The tech said “all done”. WHAT!!!!! Nothing happened! But I guess it actually did. Come to find out you can’t see microscopic particles moving at 2/3 the speed of light. Who knew? At this point I go back out to the main lobby, and I’m on my way. I’m in and out in about 15 – 20 minutes total. That’s quite the daily drive for 20 minutes of “action”…..
I did participate in a behind the scenes tour of how this technology works. Let just suffice it to say… crazy. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I don’t want to bore everyone with all the nerdy details (yes, I’m a nerd, hence the enjoyment). Honestly, it would probably take me an hour to try to type out everything that I learned and saw. Did I mention I’m struggling with time management at the moment? If any of you readers are truly interested, I was told during the tour that there are some great YouTube videos on how all this works. I’m thankful that God gave humans insight into how to harness different aspects of biology, chemistry, electricity, etc to even make this tech possible. I also continue to be in awe at how complex He made our bodies.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for providing traveling mercies thus far through my treatments. As of today, 5 down, 20 to go. Thank You for helping me maintain a good level of energy and stamina to deal with working and treatments at the same time. If You allow the next 20 to go as well as the first 5, I am in great shape. I continue to pray for the insurance aspect. I pray that these invisible protons are going to the correct places in my body, and not doing damage to vital organs. It gives me a new perspective on “blind” faith. I have faith that You know what is best for me, that You are guiding the doctors, and that You are guiding the protons. I have faith that if its Your will, 90 days after treatments end, I’ll have a PET scan that shows I’m cancer free. Thank You for all that You have done for me and how you have provided for me every day of my 33 years on this earth so far. I love you Lord, Amen.