On Tuesday May 21st, I headed to the BC Cancer Agency, so that I could receive radiation treatment. As I documented previously I had 4-5 weeks of severe back/side pain in Feb/Mar (bedridden, save for chemo treatment), which were later shown to be due to cancer cells in the T7 vertebrae of my thoracic spine, based on the results of my CT scan. This is just one of the possible side effects from multiple myeloma, which is a blood cancer. After a conversation with my specialist, it was determined that radiation treatment on that particular area would help prevent the pain from returning.
(T7 Vertebrae image via Wikipedia/Mikael Häggström). When I arrived I had mentally prepared myself for the radiation treatment, however when I saw the radiologist I learned that I would not be getting radiation on that day. The radiologist explained that my T7 vertebrae has collapsed because of the cancerous cells inside and that the severe pain I experienced was from the vertebrae collapsing. Once the vertebrae became flattened, the pain stopped. A still-circular vertebrae that causes pain due to cancerous cells inside can be treated with chemo or radiation (targeted chemo). Then cement is added to stabilize the walls of the vertebrae and prevent them from collapsing in the future.
(Thoracic Vertebrae image via Wikipedia/Anatomist90). The radiologist believed that in my situation, my T7 vertebrae had already collapsed and was flat and stable. Therefore cement couldn’t be added to fix it and make it whole again. If the pain returned, then I would be able to receive radiation to kill the cancer cells and stop the pain. However, as chemo I’m presently taking should be killing cancer cells in my body everywhere including in my thoracic spine additional radiation directed at T7 vertebrae would be overkill.
After the meeting I was in a bit of a shock that I wouldn’t get radiation and nervous about the future. It is this big unknown hanging over me as I would when pain will return in the future as bone degradation and joint/bone pain are common with those living with multiple myeloma.
Waiting for Velcade chemo injections
At the end of the week I had my Velcade chemo treatment at the hospital. When I arrived I took my temperature, oxygen saturation, pulse, and blood pressure and put the results down on my chart. Then my nurse arrived to give me a CBC (complete blood count), which is a blood test that provides four main results that monitor how I’m responding to treatment.
White Blood Count 3.2 (normal 4-11)
Neutrophils 1.9 (normal 2-8)
Hemoglobin 117 (normal 135-170)
Blood Platelets 221 (normal 150-400)
While waiting for the results, my Velcade chemo arrived and I received two injections in the right side of my stomach. After it was over, I took the bus home. The next morning, I took this photo inside due to the light rain. This is composed of the dexamethasone and cyclophosphamide that I take weekly as part of my Velcade chemo treatment. As it is the 14th week of treatment, the pills are shaped into a 14.
Cycle 3 Week 4 Treatment
I continue to use self-portraits to help with the healing process and allow me to maintain a positive outlook on life as cancer can be pretty lonely. The complete flickr set is here.
May 23rd: Relaxing on the grass