Radiation – Part 1: Ennis, Swan Valley & the South Fork

Luke’s just finished week three of radiation – the would be half-way point, but just like the 40 weeks of pregnancy that’s sold as 9 months, his 30 treatments/6 weeks is spilling into seven near-full weeks of weekdays. He’ll be done the 2nd week of October.

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He continues to drive himself and alternates between spending the rest of his days more likely fishing or at work than resting at home. After 2 solid weekends on the go, in addition to a trip to Ennis, MT, followed by a wedding weekend in Seeley Lake, MT, our family was due a rest and, especially for Luke, a break from driving. This weekend has been home-based, though Luke is not one to sit still and has managed to sight in his rifle (hunting is upon us) and get in a full day’s solo mini-cat float on the Teton on a gorgeous September day. He’s had the immediate gratification and very cool feeling of catching fish on flies he’s tied within the past 24 hours on several occasions lately.

Tying flies has been the perfect activity for the nights he’s risen at 2, 3, 4 & 5:00 am – wide awake. Insomnia, being one of the many side-effects of steroids which were re-issued upon beginning radiation and have proven to keep the swelling down. However, we found their downsides considerable and we were glad when he was issued the calendar to reduce use – effective immediately. He’s within a dose or 2 of being completely done and already sleeping a ton better; though still prone to waking early. Melatonin has been helpful at night as well, plus has benefits to GBM’s.

Last week Luke had to drive to Idaho Falls for his 8:15 am radiation appointment, then later to Jackson for a blood draw from the oncology dept. there. It was a hell of a day, but the JH nurse did reiterate that he might want to take it a little easier, as most folks tend to relax during radiation. We’ll see. He ran 20 miles on Friday and is still aiming for the Oct. 5 marathon in Portland. One day at a time. While some days are otherwise better than others, the important thing is he’s generally feeling really good.

Last Tuesday on the way to his appointment he scratched his head, felt a loose tuff of hair and proceeded to roll down the windows and rub the left side of his head (where the tumor was and certainly where a lot of the radiation is focused). That half of his hair was MIA when he showed up to the appt., resulting in a stop to purchase sheers on the way home and a definitive haircut that evening. It’s short and sharp right now. We were relieved the hair he had made it through his performance as a groomsman last weekend and super thankful it didn’t fall out en-route to the wedding. Timing is everything. He looked exceptionally handsome at the recent wedding and was thrilled to be able to participate in such a special occasion. In the mean time he has discovered Buffs to be a perfect thin hat that keeps the sun off and his head protected – as directed by the radiation team.

IMG_0674So far he has luckily been limitedly affected by the chemo drugs (temadar) and the radiation. Below are a few shots of his mask and the 360º radiation set-up in Idaho Falls. The folks are super friendly and it’s done quickly – all scientifically focused in doses. Of course everyone else has to leave the room for the actual treatment. He feels a little dazed momentarily afterwards – “like someone just indiscriminately shot my braincells.” Between that, the drive and the drugs there is certainly a limit to his energy levels and inevitable crashes happen. They are typically easily fixed with food and rest. We’re still perfecting the optimal diet and sifting through the limited sure advice on the nutrition angle to optimizing radiation & chemo, while starving the tumor, but he’s been excellent about cutting gluten, sugar, most white foods and more that are unanimously on the “out” list.

Luke continues to be his green light – go! kind of person, only pausing briefly at the necessary red lights. He’s running in full stride, going the distance and isn’t even sore – what more can we ask?!

Thank you all for your continued support. It’s been incredibly helpful on multiple levels and we are certainly blessed on that front.  xoxo