• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 176 (Role of Cancer Treatments)


    Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  0.00 miles;  Running Total: 113.00 miles)

    Day 176 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    I spent the day on the couch watching movies and taking naps.  I’m so glad this is the last chemo.  I really hate the first week after treatment.

    Since there isn’t much to talk about in my day (unless you want to hear about my awesome new blanket), I thought I’d answer a question I received a while back.

    Someone asked me why do surgery if you’re doing chemotherapy? And why radiation if you’re doing chemotherapy and surgery?

    This tells me that there is confusion over the roles of each type of cancer treatment.  That confusion is totally understandable.  Cancer is a scary topic and no one wants to know the details of treatment unless you have to.

    But in an effort to answer the question, here’s my understanding of the role of each cancer treatment.

    [Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. My knowledge of cancer is only from my experiences, so don’t take this as medical advice in any way.]

    • The role of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs travel all through out your body and kill fast growing cells like cancerous cells.  Unfortunately they also kill good fast growing cells, too, which is why chemotherapy is known to make your hair fall out (your hair is a fast growing cell).
    • The role of surgery.  Surgery removes the tumor(s) and the tissue that is known to have cancer in it.  If chemotherapy didn’t kill the entire tumor(s) then the goal of surgery is to remove the rest of it.  Sometimes surgery can’t get all of the cancer whether because the area can’t be reached surgically or (in my case with the lymph node under my collar bone) the area might be too small to find.
    • The role of radiation.  Radiation destroys any cancer cells in a specific area that might be left over after surgery.  Radiation is more targeted than chemotherapy.  It doesn’t run throughout your entire body.  If the lymph node under my collar bone cannot be reached with surgery the radiation on that area will be doubled to kill the cancer cells that chemotherapy didn’t kill and surgery might have left behind.

    Because the cancer found was already in my lymph nodes my doctors are pursuing what one of them called “aggressive” treatment.  The word “aggressive” freaked me out. It still seems bizarre to me that I require cancer treatment at all, let alone the “aggressive” kind.

    But “aggressive” makes sense, and here’s why:

    Your lymph nodes carry ‘lymph’ throughout your body. These handy little organs helps your body manage fluid.

    Think of your hands swelling on a hot day. Your lymph nodes help reduce that swelling.

    Since lymph nodes carry cells all over your body, it’s a big deal to find cancer in them because they can carry cancer cells everywhere, too.

    This is why I’m receiving all three types of cancer treatment: Chemotherapy, Surgery and Radiation.

    Today’s silver lining:  Chemotherapy is over.

    Thank God.

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.


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One Responseso far.

  1. Leslee says:

    Thanks for clarifying, it is very confusing! 🙂

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