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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Steps I have taken up to this point in treatment

After diagnosis, I contacted our local medical library for some background information on the type of cancer and the current methods of treatment. (Yes, I am a medical librarian, but I leave my personal searches to other professionals - I am just too close to the situation, and don't feel that I would be objective enough to get the big picture.) My surgeon had said radiation was the treatment of choice to try and keep the tumor from regrowing in the cheek. I wanted to know if there were any researchers publishing about the most effective method of radiation or other experimental treatment methods. This search service is free to anyone in our state. You can search for local libraries in the United States, Canada, and other countries in the world that offer consumer health information services like the one I used by going to MedlinePlus, an online health information site maintained by librarians at the U.S. National Library of Medicine: .
I also checked in with my dentist, since I will be receiving radiation to my head and neck area. She set me up with flouride trays which I use twice a day to try and strengthen my teeth for the time later in treatment when I have less protective saliva. (I didn't know spit had so many good uses until faced with losing mine!)
My family doctor had been aware of my diagnosis, so I met with her to see if there were any other issues I needed to pay attention to before, during, or after treatment. Right now, regular checkups are all that are warrented.
The only doctor I haven't seen at this time is my eye doctor. I could get new glasses, but the radiation oncologist said that I may be taking the earpiece off of my glasses if my face gets sore from radiation. I figure I will use my old glasses at this time, and spring for my eye checkup and new glasses to celebrate the end of my treatments.
Other things I have done before radiation starts: tasting my favorite foods with good friends so the memories will last even if I can't taste my favorites the same way later; went for a very short hair cut to tide me over during and after the 8 weeks, since I figure I won't want anyone fiddling around my face if it is tender; went to some funny and action-packed movies with my family (my family is going through stuff, too, and any time we can let off steam together it is a good thing!); spent time with friends and relatives (I don't figure I will be seeing many folks during the treatment weeks); and bought a hat to keep off the sun (they are all on sale now!-grin!). I stopped by my library yesterday to celebrate with the staff my and another colleague's anniversary - man, the years go by fast! - and distributed glow in the dark bracelets so they can join me as I start "glowing in the dark". I know, no glowing will actually take place, but the smiles were worth being silly over this. There is enough seriousness going around - it is good to play once in a while!

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