Maggie's Brain MRI

Radiosurgery Part Deux

by Maggie Jones

The prep for stereotactic radiosurgery is pretty comprehensive. It involves molding the mask, a CT scan while inside the mask, and an MRI to help map the tumors.

Before all that is the consultation with the outlining of the risks and signing of releases. I was warned that other parts of my brain could be damaged resulting in loss of motor or sensory function. Based on the location of my larger tumor in the temporal lobe, there’s a higher risk of memory loss and personality change. After the consultation while I was waiting for the mask and imaging, one of the oncology assistants found me to sign yet another release acknowledging that these risks are even higher for repeat users. According to the release, each round of radiation increases the odds of something unpleasant. I got a little nervous.

I started to question whether this surgery was the right thing or if I should just wait another month or so for the lorlatinib which may be effective in treating the brain tumors. Brad and I agonized for a bit before deciding to move forward.

In the end, I’m very glad I did. The planning MRI showed that my tumors had grown from 2mm and 5mm to 4mm and 9mm, respectively, in just one month. Holy smokes! Almost a centimeter tumor in my head. For geometry buffs, doubling diameter of a sphere increases the volume eight-fold. My tumors octupled in size in just a month. As Brad noted, it’s a good thing my head is so big.

There is other good news, too:

  1. Of the original two tumors targeted by November’s radiosurgery, one is gone and the other, which shrunk from 5mm to 2mm, is still stable.
  2. There are no new tumors.

If this round of radiation is as successful as the last, lorlatinib may prevent any new ones for a while. And I do think this radiation will be successful. I’ve been reading more and more studies about the benefits of fasting for radiation – not only does it make cancer cells more susceptible, it protects healthy cells – and fasted for 66 hours prior and 24 hours afterwards. Brad and I were super prepared when I got home with comfy clothes, anti-vomiting drugs, pain killers, absorbent sheets (for my sweat) and a puke bucket nearby. I’m pretty sure I’ll lose the rest of my hair this round but hopefully that’s the worst of the adverse effects. It will take a couple more weeks to know for sure. In the meantime, I’m trying to just drug up or sleep through the pain until my brain swelling goes down.

Thank you so much for all your good thoughts! I can’t tell you how loved I feel.

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