This post is #107 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
When Hannah completed her first round of radiation treatments on April 25, 2008, the technicians at CARTI gave her a little party to celebrate her last treatment. What a relief it was to have that part of her treatment protocol behind us! So it was a bit surreal to find ourselves returning to CARTI just five months later, about to start the whole process all over again. One of the most jarring things about this appointment for me was watching Hannah patiently lie still on the table as the technicians created a new radiation mask for her ... this one extending all the way down over her shoulders and chest. What a nightmarish-looking thing it was.
While I was sitting with Hannah as she underwent this process, Brad talked privately with her radiation oncologist. The doctor explained to him that we should not view these new radiation treatments as a potential "cure", but that they might give Hannah a little more time. Up to that point, none of these medical people had talked to us in terms of "time." Our understanding had always been that we were working toward a cure. Very gradually, we were beginning to come to an awareness that all our efforts were simply to give her "more time."
My email from ten years ago today ...
Today we went to CARTI (Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute) for our initial consultation for Hannah's new radiation program. She had a CT scan and they made new molds for her to wear while she is on the table during the radiation treatments. We had a brief meeting with her radiologist/oncologist. He explained that determining the radiation field is going to be a somewhat complicated process, because they have to be very careful not to re-radiate the areas of her brain that were done before. They will be comparing today's CT scan with the scan done in February to determine exactly what areas can be radiated. We will be meeting with him again on Thursday to find out the exact plan of treatment, and should begin radiation that day. If it takes them a little longer to determine the plan, we may not go again until Monday, but as of right now, we are scheduled to begin on Thursday. We are anxious to get started and begin shrinking those tumors; however, we want them to take the time they need to be precise. The CT technicians explained to me that her radiation will be somewhat different this time ... using something called "tomotherapy". CARTI is the only location in Arkansas that has one of these type of machines, and it is considered state of the art. We feel very comfortable that Hannah is in the best earthly hands possible.
This past weekend was a very good one. We were able to spend lots of time visiting with friends and family, and were able to participate in a special prayer time in our church for Hannah. We feel that God is calling us to be faithful to Him throughout this journey, and we definitely feel His peace upon us. We are so appreciative of all the many, many emails, phone calls, cards, and gifts we have received over the last several days. We have been contacted by people we haven't heard from in years, people who we don't even know, and people from around the world who tell us they are praying for Hannah. What a blessing! God is truly in control, and He is good all the time!
Brad and Jill