Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day +42: Getting Ready for Radiation

I shuttled Keith from RM House to Lucile Packard for a quick 9:15am appointment at the LPCH clinic to draw labs. This was followed by an appointment at the Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Center where the radiologists performed some fine-tuned measurements to confirm Keith’s radiation treatment plan.

Upon entering the building the sound of a live pianist playing in the lobby above us resonated down the open staircase causing me for a brief moment to think I had mistakenly ambled into a Nordstrom’s department store. I quickly regrouped and we checked in at the reception area, but something about that piano music awakened the inner shopper in me and I felt compelled to head upstairs and head for the cafĂ© in hopes of finding a strong cup of coffee. Cup in hand, I headed back downstairs to rejoin Keith and soon we were escorted back to the exam room.

Keith removed his mask and climbed up onto the table of the impressive imaging machine and settled into a custom-formed cast of his upper back that was prepared at an earlier appointment to maintain a stable and exact lying position for this and future treatments. The machine awoke and moved Keith into position where a series of lasers, emitting from 3 of the 4 walls were turned on creating a series of bright green lines crisscrossing his abdomen. These along with other measurements were used to calibrate the exact locations marked with “tattoos” last week. It required that Keith lie on his back in one position for quite some time and he was clearly getting antsy toward the end. Several digital x-ray images were taken and viewed by the radiologists in the control room just outside of the lead-lined room that Keith and the machine were in. Eventually they were satisfied that the calibration was exact and Keith was set free again.

As exact and precise as all of this technology is, artistry is an important element of the successful application of radiation as well, and the radiologist that Keith is seeing is reputed to be quite the artist. Keith will return again on Thursday for a dry run of the actual treatment which consists of 12 consecutive days (excluding weekends) of radiation. The actual duration of the radiation beam during each of the treatments is quite short; only 30 seconds – so Keith should actually be more comfortable during treatment than he was today.

Later in the morning the lab results from the clinic were returned and Keith was scheduled for a bed in the day hospital to receive a transfusion of red blood cells. This was not unexpected and his recovery is marching ahead nicely. It seems that while the radiation treatment is painless, it has the negative side effect of suppressing the bone marrow production of blood products, so it is important that prior to his radiation treatment all of his blood counts are strong and that is what this transfusion is about.

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A note from the editorial staff:

I have heard that some of you may be apprehensive about posting a comment on this page because of the registration requirements and others have found the registration process simply confusing. So today I made a change to the page settings to allow comments without requiring a password or registration. So if you were deterred before, please feel free to try to try again – just avoid using the ‘anonymous’ option if you can. As long as this ‘open’ system is not abused I’ll keep it that way so that all of you can continue to root Keith on to a full recovery.

Also - I have lost the ability to post photos - don't know if this is a temporary problem with the host or whether the setting change to allow all to post made a difference. Hopefully I'll get this fixed sometime soon, but if anyone has any ideas or suggestions....

1 comment:

Emeril! said...


Keith, it's me -- Emeril Legasse. Boy, do you know a lot about food! If you've watched my show, you know I mostly like the simple ingredients: garlic (BAM!); olive oil; butter; salt and pepper; chocolate; chocolate; and chocolate!

I've heard chemo can depress your taste buds, but if you are chowing down on your mom's lemon chicken, it sounds like you are making a strong recovery. Keep it up. Lots of us are cheering for you and eagerly anticipating your triumphant return to sushi and the other foods that are "off the list" while you heal up. Go kid!

[Steve, thank you for making it easy for me and other celebrities to post here without telling the Googleverse our email addresses! (Besides, I have a recipe contract with MSN that would have made it impossible).]