... in my brain actually. My very own brain tumour

Monday, February 4, 2008

Plans for treatment of the tumour

On Monday 4th Feb we saw the oncologist who will be in charge of my treatment now. She comes with a very good reputation according to a lot of medical people we know, and I have complete confidence in her now that we have had our discussion. In her opinion, the type of tumour I have is going to be responsive to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The plan is to administer both radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the same time, in order to try to get the best result. There will be an initial administrative phase of getting the necessary permission from the medical aid and then the treatment fields will need to be planned so that the maximum dose of high energy X-rays are concentrated as accurately as possible on the tumour, with a suitable margin around it. After the planning, the treatment starts - probably in about a week's time. I feel good that the process is now under way. It is all obviously new to me and I am sure I will find it interesting to follow the progress. I have been advised that I will receive the currently accepted, standard treatment. No fancy, exotic or experimental drugs. It sounds sensible to me and I accept it. Now is the time to hand over to experts and follow their advice.That's exactly what I have now done.

When the treatment actually starts, it will take place daily for 5 days per week and will last about 6 weeks. The efects of the treatment will last for a further 2 weeks after it has finished and the resulting inflammation and swelling of the brain will need to be contolled with cortisone during this time. If all goes well I should be back to normal about 6 months after the treatment starts. The chemo drug that will be used is apparently not likely to make me desperately ill, as some other chemotherapeutic agents tend to do. There may be a bit of patchy hair loss. No problem! I already have that anyway. What I am not looking forward to is the fact that I will not be allowed to wash my hair for the full duration of the treatment. Yuk! I have been told that I should be fine, just a bit tired. Well, let's see. I am very positive and will be as sensible as I can during the whole process.

Here I am, looking forward to the next stage. I am amazed at the personal transformations that have taken place deep inside me during the period since the tumour was discovered. I am happier and more peaceful than I have been for well over ten years. Joan and I laugh and talk and enjoy life together. Family, friends and even strangers are kind, gentle, caring. Life is smooth, I am surrounded with abundance, love and support. Inside, I have forgiven people, I have clarified my beliefs, I have sloughed off the fear and depression that has dogged me all my life. I accept myself as a good, valid and valued person. I no longer suffer shame and failure a hundred times every day. Life is light and good. In fact, what has happened to me is nothing short of a miracle.
One of the things I have been seeking for many years is an experience of joy. Years ago, when I was still trying to find this elusive thing through faith,I attended an Alpha course at my Church. I took it all very seriously and found it agonising that none of my questions were answered. The course was confusing and incomprehensible to me no matter how hard I tried. When we got to the part of the course that explored the gifts of the spirit, I threw myself open unconditionally to ask for joy. What happened was too ghastly for words. The person ministering to me started talking in tongues and assured me that my wish had been granted through the strength of my faith. But it wasn't to be! The joy never ever came to me. It was a sobering, humiliating, embarrassing experience that I have now put behind me. As part of the process of working through the trauma of this disappointment, I read the Bible from cover to cover, I studied other philosophies of reality and I started formally making a study of the brain. My beliefs have changed since that day of tears and tongues and disappointment. Here I am now with my present medical problem, filled with joy. Yes, I now know what joy feels like. I have been given a priceless gift and I am at peace. What does this joy feel like? It is not a wild, loud, charismatic, shouting emotion. It is a feeling like a gentle smile. It is quiet and it is infinitely beautiful. It is filled with humour and anticipation. It stays with me easily. I don't have to hold it with a tight fist. It is here to stay, in my head, in every cell in my body and the interstices between them. My depression has now evaporated forever. I am not in denial. I know that I have a very serious health challenge. But I am going to go down the joyful road and experience things I have never experienced before. What a priceless gift! Thank you!


Joshua F said...

That's wonderful John.

You're an inspiration.


Ros said...

Robyn told me about your blog and I thought I would pay it a visit. Best wishes for your treatment. You are so positive, it really is inspiring. You and your family are in my thoughts.