Happy Thanksgiving! Though this holiday was unlike any other year, the four of us had much about which to be grateful. And we’ve used all the extra time generated by cancellation of activities to decorate for Christmas over the past three days in amounts never before been seen—including outdoor lights (a miracle in itself!)
Last week, I had a brain MRI and an appointment with my radiation oncologist to review the results. Thankfully, no new tumors have appeared and the 11 tumors previously treated have not regrown.
However, there was a small development of a new issue—my brain has swelled slightly around the treated area of the largest tumor. Swelling is a known risk and side effect of treating brain tissue with radiation. Though I have dodged that problem up until now, it was not completely unanticipated or a shock.
One of the characteristics of this side effect is something that fascinates me—swelling of tissue due to this type of brain radiation does not appear right away. In fact, it typically doesn’t present until 6-18 months after the area has been treated (it has been exactly 18 months since my stereotactic radiosurgery). That’s a long time to wait before successfully crossing off an item from the “potential problems” list.
My radiation oncologist said it had appeared slightly on my scan in August but they were unable to distinguish whether it was swelling or just a shadow of the scan. It had grown slightly in these three months and they were able to confirm it is the former.
Fortunately, it’s in the part of my brain that controls my left eye. Of all the functions that could be impacted by treating my other tumors (walking, talking, large and fine motor skills, memory, etc) losing some of my left peripheral vision is not a biggie.
And most important, Dr. Smith isn’t concerned about it at this point. He doesn’t suggest treating it (with steroids, which are not cool) and said that he would not have done a single thing differently with my treatment.
I had gotten a little cocky about all the good news I’ve been receiving at these appointments, so this shall humble me a bit. It is just the latest twist on this crazy journey.