Liza Yore's Journal
Gamma Knife day
Written Dec 13, 2012 2:14pm by Liam YoreToday was the big day for the brain mets!We got up at 0400 for the procedure. The boys had been overnight with some friends and another saintly friend came over at 0445 to tend to the girls. We had check in at Swedish Cherry Hill at 0600, and after some preliminaries we saw the neurosurgeon and Liza had the frame "applied."And by "applied" I mean "bolted onto her skull." See pictures here.They gave her LOTS of numbing medication and also some ativan beforehand. Despite the medieval appearance of the device, Liza reported that she didn't feel much discomfort and almost no pain per se. Take into consideration that she has an incredibly high pain tolerance, though. I am quite sure I would have been whimpering and begging for morphine. Immediately after application of the frame, she went off for a quick non-contrast CT of the head. Another bonus for the day was that she didn't need an IV, which is nice since she is getting pretty sick of being poked.After a while the radiation oncologist came in and gave us the results of the biopsy. It is officially recurrent breast cancer, which was not a surprise, and best of all it is still HER-2 positive!!! This means that we will have some much better treatment options and likely a much more favorable prognosis. While not curable, it is possible for this to be a chronically manageable disease.Then we had a long down time while the physicists did the planning and the computer magic. Finally they took her to the procedure room. The machine looks like a big CT scanner only the open hole in the center had a pair of ominously closed doors. Liza lay down on the table and the head frame bolted very securely onto a neck rack. They did not want her moving! They were very careful making sure that she was in a comfortable position and in fact Liza later said it was less uncomfortable than the MRI yesterday. Then we evacuated the room and watched on video monitor as the doors slip open and Liza's head was put in the box.She had an hour (63 minutes) on the table, which is a bit less than average, I am told. She said it was quiet and they played her some music. When done, they took her back and took off the frame. She has 4 holes in her forehead/scalp, but doesn't have any bleeding and it will heal up. They gave her some medicine to prevent nausea and we were free to go. All in all, the whole thing took about six hours, somewhat less than we had been expecting.We will have a follow-up MRI in 2 months. The Rad Onc cautioned us that they do expect to see some new spots on that study, since Liza has not yet started chemo, but that is OK. We will zap those when and if they show up, and once the chemo controls the systemic disease, the rate at which new brain mets develops should drop off or hopefully even stop. She will get screening MRIs every three months for the rest of her life.So now she is resting. She is very tired (as am I) and a little nauseated with only a mild headache. We meet with the oncologist tomorrow to find out exactly what form the treatment will take.Thanks again for reading and great thanks to all our friends and neighbors who have helped out, volunteered, brought food or sent flowers or just sent well-wishes.
Gamma knife prep MRI
Written Dec 12, 2012 10:44pm by Liam YoreLong day today. Liza had a special planning MRI at Swedish downtown. It required her head to be strapped to a hard board for about an hour, and they did way more imaging than for a normal MRI. At one point she was told "Now this is the one that we'll be using to aim the gamma knife tomorrow, so don't cough, swallow or move your eyes."No pressure.We were only down there for a few hours, but it was a major undertaking since we had to coordinate all 4 kids getting picked up from school and taken overnight since we need to be back at Swedish at 0600 for the gamma knife. Tomorrow will be a very long day; I'm not sure how long we will be there, but we were told it would be "most" of the day.So Liza is pretty tired, mostly of all the testing and needle sticks and weird injections. It has her pretty low right now. Feel free to send her an email to cheer her up!Wish us well tomorrow: they will be using focused radiation to burn the cancer out of her head, which is pretty badass when you think about it.
Written Dec 10, 2012 3:59pm by Liam YoreIt went well. They had to do multiple pokes with the needle to get the samples, and they took several samples to make sure this one should be diagnostic. Apparently it wasn't painful, though Liza is a little sore and nauseated now. She's sleeping off the meds they gave her.Thanks all for reading and special thanks to whoever it was who sent us the Amazon Fresh groceries - much appreciated.