On the books

We’re finally making forward progress again: looks like Duke finally got their PC running and scheduled me for my first treatment next month. I’ve had enough time to rest and heal, let’s see what radioactive glass beads can do to wreak havoc on my little rogue cells.

I’ll be back after the procedure to report how things look and feel. Until then, have some Lettuce!

Hold up

More delays.

“The computer we use to perform segmentation on MRI data sets is down. It is not under contract, so it may be about a week before it is fixed. I can give you abbreviated liver volumes Monday or, if the patient’s treatment permits, the full volumetrics once the computer is fixed.”

My doc wants to wait until things are fixed before we proceed, which I agree with — no need to guesstimate how much radioactivity my liver can take, right? So now we gotta wait till someone fixes a laptop before I get a start date.

I can’t catch a break with this procedure. Feels like I’m never gonna get treated sometimes.


Pain in the back

thumbs-upFinally had my first procedure yesterday, the process of mapping my liver is complete. I will be using the FAQ format along with citations to relay details, just to change things up a bit.

Q: What happened?
A: I went to Big Duke1 for preliminary mapping of the blood vessels that support my liver. Got in around 10:30, left after 5.

Q: 5pm? Why so long?
A: Because evidently I have ‘angular’ blood vessels that don’t branch out nicely like a Y, but more like a T, which makes it difficult to push the instrument via catheter around to where it needs to go. Chuck2  told me that the procedure should take between 45 mins and 2.5 hrs. I was on that table for almost 4. And then I went to get scanned for another 45 mins. So by the time I was done with everything – including the wait to ensure my femoral artery was healed enough to move – it was past 5, just in time to return home at rush hour.

Q: Did it hurt?
A: The overall procedure didn’t hurt much at all: getting poked in the groin with the lidocaine needle was probably the worst of it. Pain management was very good and I’m just a little sore at the point where they inserted the catheter. I’d give it a 1 or a 2 on a scale from 1 to 10. The real issues were in my lower back.3

Q: What’s next?
A: We wait for the head nurse to coordinate with the manufacturers of these Yttrium-90-impregnated beads to establish when these beads will be created, because that dictates when the beads will be ready for insertion. As the radioactive material starts to lose its potency immediately, I’ll need to catch them at the right time for inserting into my liver. So no last-minute change of plans for me, once the time has been determined. I expect the first insertion to be in a couple of weeks.4

Q: How do you feel?
A: I’m just dandy, thanks for asking. Thinking about how I felt last summer I can definitely say I haven’t felt this good since before then. If it weren’t for my neuropathy in my fingers and toes, I’d be 100%. I’ve had a hard time remembering I have cancer this summer. Getting back into pharmaceutical-related therapies will remind me where I’m at in the coming months, but as long as I can keep the tumors at bay and I feel the same as I do now,5 I expect to continue to feel good in the future.

The better I feel, the less inclined I am to devote the same healing energy to myself as I did back last fall. And I can’t be the only one who finds it difficult to keep praying and sending good thoughts to those who look like they’re getting better, but still need the support. I enjoy the comments immensely, but also appreciate those who would come here to check on me, and be quietly satisfied with my progress. That’s what I would do, I think.  Most of you know I’m not one who makes a big deal about my situation6 and rather downplay it, if only to make people not worry too much. I really do feel good now, and I need to remember how this feels, and cherish it in the months ahead when I’m dealing with chemo’s side effects again.

Thanks as always for your thoughts and enjoying this stretch of good health with me; now’s the time when we buckle down again and see what Duke can do with these pesky tumors.


  1. The main hospital in Durham, as opposed to Duke-Raleigh where my oncologist works and where I usually go for labs, chemo, etc.
  2. Chuck’s the anesthesiologist; if i see him again he might get punched in the mouth for his prediction and getting my hopes up.
  3. I don’t sleep on my back, I prefer to sleep in my sides. So being in the same position on my back for that long put my lumbar area in agony for most of my visit. I’m hoping I can get someone to support my back with a rolled-up blanket or something next time.
  4. Because my hepatic blood vessels are wacky I will need to have 2 appointments to treat just the left half of my liver, putting my total number of surgeries up to three, not 2. Safety is the main reason for this, they don’t want beads to end up in my colon.
  5. Not too certain about this one. The main complaint with the radioactive beads is Fatigue (yes, with a capital F), and pain, nausea, etc etc etc. We’ll see about all that. And I’ve made my oncologist promise that he’ll keep the main culprit of my neuropathy – Avastin, I think – off of my chemo menu if I need to go back on it after my procedures are done.
  6. Apart from creating and maintaining a blog, that is.