Friday, June 05, 2009
Dad's On Radiotherapy
Today is Dad's second day of radiotherapy.
I am so fortunate that my boss is understanding and had granted me the two consecutive afternoons off of work so that I could accompany Dad for the treatment in SGH Radiology Centre.
At least the Swine Flu or H1N1 Virus screening process at its entrance in Block 2 at basement B1 was not as strict as entering the wards at Block 4. It was really troublesome to visit Dad when he was warded for a week there.
The screening was a simplified version. A temperature check on one ear and a sticker with today's date given when Dad's appointment card was handed for appointment verification.
The mood in the waiting room was quite depressing to be in after a while. I saw most of the same people I saw yesterday. Everyone there really looked sick no matter how much they tried not to show.
Bald heads both women and men, both young and old. One tall and very thin man, probably in his early 30s had a terrible looking large tumor on his neck. He made loud gurgle as he breathed. At the base of his throat bore a large scar from an operation done previously.
I did not mean to stare, but it was painful to see such a sight. Yet I felt that young man has more desire to live and fighting spirit that I give him credit for. He came alone, panting and walked slowly, but he was there to get better on his own terms.
I felt sympathetic towards each and every patient there. I know that it is the least of their concerns. They are fighting the battle every minute of the hour, no such thing as rest days in between. True courage is what each of them has.
As I looked at Dad, sitting and waiting for his turn, I thank The Almighty that he is not in constant or any pain. The lung cancer he has, has already metastasized.
The doctors reports done during his recent hospitalization found that while the initial 3 tumors had grown in sizes, there are many more new tumors detected. A few are now in his right lung.
Whatever cancer treatments that have been done from the very beginning till to date is only palliative... but it worked well for Dad until it had to stop for a more urgent condition.
The 3 cycles chemotherapy that got stopped abruptly had somewhat prevented the first 3 growths from getting bigger or for new ones to appear. A blood clot detected in his heart after an X-ray done was the cause of Dad's pains in his left shoulder region. Chemo stopped to make way for anti-coagulation Warfarin to start to prevent a chance of getting a stroke.
Without chemo for the past 2 months made his cancer cells grow rampantly. Dad developed breathing difficulties and had more visible clumps of blood in his sputum leading to his recent hospitalization.
Dad's radiotherapy took quite a long time on the first day. I saw the X-ray warning light outside the shielded metal door lit 5 or more times yesterday. Each time it lit for about 3o seconds.
Today, it lit only once but for over 3 minutes or so. My guess is that the long exposure was done to the largest tumor whereas yesterday, the short bursts were targeted on the other smaller ones especially in his left lung.
Maybe it is the power of suggestion, but I take it as a positive outcome anyway.
When asked, Dad replied jovially that it gave him instant relief. He said that he could breathe a little better than before the first treatment. It could probably be true.
I know I want it to be true too, very much. And maybe so because he did even cough once in the cab on our journey home. An encouraging sign. A very good one, in fact.
Dad said that he slept much better last night too. Just a day after his first treatment. Though he was aided with the Oxygen Concentrator to breathe while he slept, he said he could feel the difference than from the past few days since his discharge from the hospital.
Dad will now rest for the next two days. There is no treatment on weekends. It is a good time for his body to repair any damages the radiation had inadvertently done to the healthy tissues around the tumors.
Dr. Yeo, the Radio Oncologist will see Dad on Monday, 8 June 2009 when Dad goes for his 3rd radiotherapy session.
Hopefully the doctor can give encouraging news on Dad's progress, even though it may just be a little too soon. However minor an improvement it may be, it is still good news to me.
Between my two Elder Sis and Younger Brother, they will accompany Dad on Monday through Wednesday for his remaining sessions.
It will be anxiously waited what Dr. Yeo has to tell on Monday, but the final "verdict" will be on the following Monday, the one to confirm the effectiveness the treatment has on Dad and what to do next.
A good indication is when Dad is no longer breathless, else Dad may need to go for another fraction of 5 sessions again.
The treatment is meant to ease Dad's symptoms... to prolong his life with us and nothing more... but we are thankful to The Almighty for the time nonetheless.