Friday, October 24, 2008

A treatment of cancer explained

By Dane Masters

It is often seen that we remain blissfully ignorant of the latest information of cancer unless we are in a situation when we have to pay attention to what is the latest buzz in cancer treatments. We generally do not read up medical articles unless we have a fascination for those and needless to say we do not bother to know more about the diseases, their solutions, symptoms or the side effects. This is what happened to my closest pal of twenty nine years.

A clinical nurse specialist specializing in geriatric nursing, my friend has a wealth of medical and other knowledge that rivals the minds of MENSA members. But she knew nothing of Cancer or of the latest treatment for Canceruntil she was diagnosed with invasive cervical adinocarcinoma. Neither of knew much before this, save the limited and exaggerated details of the side effects of chemo and radiation. We now, however, know a bit more. Today she goes for her first of many treatments, so in tacky form, I relay the process of one treatment for Cancer as she experiences it.

Vaness was diagnosed in December of 2005. Immediately, they took her in for surgery: to remove the offending growths, which were malignant and threatening to spread to her lymph nodes, surgeons performed a radical hysterectomy. Next she went in for a PET scan. A PET scan is a Positron Emission Tomography test done to verify the diagnoses and to enable further consideration of treatment for cancer. The PET and other tests revealed the cancer was in her lymph nodes, reaching as far up as the lungs and extending down to her vaginal area. A reputable surgeon, knowing of her case, which is in the 1 to 10 percentile of cases, called Vaness, suggesting she blow off the standard treatment for cancer and get the affected lymph nodes removed. (We cannot have all of our lymph nodes removed, as they run our endocrine, secretion, and waste and other systems.) Though she was now getting opposing suggestions/recommendations, she opted for the latter: on Valentine's Day, she had a second surgery.

This was followed by the radiation and chemotherapy sessions. The doctor at first explained to her clearly about these two methods and also showed with the help of statistics the chances of the occurrence of a side effect. It opened our eyes. We realized that the rate of not having control over our bowels or losing hair was very low. We also learnt how most of the symptoms were actually psychogenic, that these were brought on to us by our own thinking and had nothing to do with the effects of the chemo and the radiation therapy.

She was then administered an IV on one side of the body. She also had to take two medicines, Glutamine as well as Compazine. While Glutamine keeps the immune system strong; Compazine reduces the feeling of nausea that came as the result of using Amaphostine injection(s).

Vaness then started her treatment of cancer. She had to take chemo as was scheduled. She also had to take radiation therapy for a continuous five days every week for a stretch of ten weeks. The radiation therapy takes care of the symptoms and brings about an improvement in the quality of life. It however cannot cure; there is after all no cure of cancer.

The two treatments together can be used for a total of ten weeks. After that it would not be used as these will not cure the cancer and instead might kill her. The irony is in the fact that while the treatment is strong enough to counter the disease, it is also strong enough to kill the patient. There is however a percentage who with the help of the doctors, their friends and their own mind have miraculous recoveries and they actually survive to tell the tale. What is heartening is that this percentage of survivors is growing with each passing year.

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