Last Monday, I had my third chemo appointment. Everything went according to plan. This was to be my last chemo before five weeks of radiation, followed by another two to three chemo treatments.
I, however, have misgivings about the radiation part of my treatment and had a serious talk with the doctor about it. My margins were clear and there was no lymph node involvement, and even though I had some stage three tumors, they were contained within the parts that were removed when they did the complete hysterectomy.
As I’ve researched treatment options, it seems that they do the radiation IN CASE there has been any cancer cells that they’ve missed and this is exactly what the doctor told me. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when there are some pretty serious side effects that can affect quality-of-life after the radiation. Radiation to the pelvis can cause long-term effects of lymphedema, weaken bones, and can cause bowel and bladder disorders. The other thing that bothers me is that if I ever needed pelvic radiation again, from what I understand, the radiation would not be as effective the second time around.
When I asked the doctor how much less of a chance of a reoccurrence having radiation gave me, he told me that it is unknown. I am pretty sure that I do not want to chance these long-term effects for something that may not make a difference, especially since I am having chemotherapy. The chemotherapy treatment that I am currently undergoing, is also done to kill any stray cells off. It isn’t that I don’t trust my doctor because I do but I also know that treatments are often done a certain way because that is how they have been done for years without thinking about the individual person.
I go back to the doctor in two weeks which is the usual time between chemotherapy treatments (three weeks total). The doc told me that he would go over my records again and that we could discuss this further. If I still choose not to do the radiation, then I will continue with the three more sessions of chemotherapy that normally would’ve been done after radiation.
I have to admit, it scares me to not do the recommended treatment BUT it also scares me to have the radiation done for missed cancer cells that may or may not be there. Research has shown me that not all hospitals include radiation in their treatment for endometrial cancer, even with state III tumors. Modern medicine is still a lot of statistics and guesswork. The guesswork on their part this time is that between chemo and radiation, any stray cells will probably be eradicated so there will be no reoccurrence. I can’t help but going back to the place in my head that says “clear margins and not lymph node involvement”. Why take the chance of radiation?
It may sound like I am taking this lightly, but trust me I am not. I have read things and agonized over it more than you know. In the end, I think unless the doctor can tell me something that is going on that specifically needs radiation, I will choose not to have it. I also know that in the end, I have to do what I feel is right for me and since I can’t see into the future, not having radiation feels more right. I will let you know what my final decision is after I see the doctor on the 7th of March. Of course, I would love to hear your thoughts on my decision.
For those of you that are just reading this blog for the first time, you can see the other posts on my current cancer journey below:
Chemo Number Two (February 3, 2016)
Chemo Number One (January 5, 2016)
Cancer – A Journey (November 17, 2015)
CT Scan – (November 19, 2015)
Another Doctor – (November 30, 2015)
NHRMC, Wilmington, NC (December 22, 2015)