Q-What treatment methods did you under go?
A-I was given “Neoadjuvent chemotherapy and radiation. (Concurrent treatments) Chemotherapy consisted of Carboplatin and Etoposide, three rounds of one long day (6hrs.)and two short days (1 1/2 hrs.) every month for three months. Radiation consisted of daily treatment, five days per week (weekends off) for eight weeks. Total 40 treatments. The course of radiation consisted of 5940 cGy in 38 fractions over eight weeks, whatever that means.
Q-How did the treatment affect you, was there any side affects that you would like to share?
A-The chemotherapy caused loss of most of my hair. It caused a condition called “chemo brain” in which the power of concentration diminishes. It is quite common, and subsides after treatment ends. I experienced some short-term memory loss. It caused nausea – not necessarily violent, but a constant queasiness, which was very uncomfortable. Nausea was greatly relieved by the medications Compazine and Dexamethazone. (When they failed, smoking marijuana helped immensely.)
The radiation treatments were quick and easy. I did not realize any side effects until well into the treatments (about 30). Then I started to lose my appetite, my throat started to close so that I could not swallow, and one vocal cchord became paralyzed, so that I lost my voice. I was hospitalized twice in one month for dehydration and general lack of nourishment, due to inability to swallow. (Once for one week, and once for two weeks.) After my treatments stopped, my general health began to improve.
Q-Did the treatment work?
A-The treatments worked to the extent that the radiation had shrunk the tumor by seventy five percent. Surgery was performed, in October, 2001, to remove the remainder of the tumor.
Q-How long have you been a survivor of lung cancer?
A-I have been cancer free for three and one half years. My oncologist will see me in six months and then in one year. After that, he feels that there “will be no point” in seeing me further. I have had a surgical procedure to repair the damage to my vocal chords. That was very successful.