Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Burning Bush

Tonight I'm praying for a burning bush, No..... not the kind you plant, the kind that is in the Bible. Not literally, but something that is a very clear sign to me on my next stage of treatment. So here is what I am struggling with, the pros and cons of radiation:
It will help prevent my cancer from returning 
It increases my chance of survival
My doctors are strongly recommending it            
It could cause a secondary cancer (in a study done 9% of people got a second cancer 8% was caused by radiation, and more than half of those were breast and prostate cancer survivors)
It could cause heart damage/failure
It will damage at least 20% of my lung

Some other things I was told by my doctor were that I am not a typical candidate for radiation. They usually recommend it for patients who's tumor was larger then 5cm and had 4 or more lymph nodes affected. My largest tumor was 2cm and only 2 of my lymph nodes were affected, but because of my age they are recommending that I go through with the treatment. The above mentioned study also speaks to those who are young when having their initial cancer are at greater risk of developing a second cancer with radiation. I will also be at much greater risk for skin cancer in the area that radiation will be given which is from my neck down to almost the bottom of my rib cage, and from the middle of my chest all the way to my side on the right side. Its a big area, in which most would be covered during times when I'm in the sun, but there is still quite a bit exposed that I would need to worry about. With boating and swimming being a big part of our lifestyle in the summer months it would be something I would continuously have to worry about. 
Radiation methods have changed and improved a lot since the study I read was done, but at this time it has been long enough to determine long term effects with the newer methods. Obviously I'm not going to base my decision off this one study, but it is one of the best I found regarding statistics.

So anyhow I will stop boring you all with facts and statistics I just need to get this out of my head. Up until now I hadn't questioned my treatment plan, but now that I'm moving on to the next stages, and I've been given some education on radiation and time to think I feel so unsure of what to do. It scares me to make these kind of decisions not knowing what the outcome could be either way. Its not like deciding brown shoes or black its a whole other ball game and it feels like the weight of the world.

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