I met with Dr. Higgins (Radiation Oncologist) yesterday and found out a little more about the radiation plan. I’m sure I’ll learn more as time goes on about how it all actually works but I did pick up some nuggets of information.
I’ll go in to radiation every weekday starting 5/14 for 6 weeks. The first session takes a while, but each session after will take about 20 minutes. During the 20 minutes each day they are basically giving me 1/30th of the prescribed dose of radiation. In my case it’s 54 Gy (Gray) for a few areas in the mediastinum and 60 Gy for the area near the lymph node that was positive in the mediastinum.
A Gray… you know… a joule absorbed per kilogram of matter. Everyone knows that, right? Well that’s how Dr. Higgins said it at first then realized that I might not know what a Gray was so quickly said “a joule per kilogram of absorption”, just to clear things up. Luckily all the C’s I made in physics classes along the way helped me to keep up, but I was confused when I first heard the dosage. It’s basically the amount of radiation (energy) absorbed in the area (for those that didn’t C physics).
I go in next Monday (5/7) to get my initial scan, marks and possibly a mold(?) in order to create the targeting plan (again, not sure if that is what it is called). Essentially they have to target the spots they want to hit. So they have to do a lot of marking and calculations up front to make sure they hit those same spots all 30 times. The idea, as I understand it, is that they hit the cancer area 30 times giving them the full 54-60 Gy but change the point of entry for the beam. That way the tissue between the cancer and the beam doesn’t get the full amount. The could just hit you once with 54 Gy in the chest… but I think that would be like getting a laser blast from Megatron.