November 3, 2016 § 4 Comments

UPDATE: Apparently, they only hydrated Dad and did a CT scan to map out the best path to take when they implant the microspheres. The scan involved contrast dye, though, so the kidneys are still an issue. They will hydrate him for eight hours to combat the effect of the dye on his kidneys.

My father is undergoing a procedure today in preparation for a cancer treatment that will happen sometime next week, I think. (There’s some uncertainty about that, because all my information comes through my parents, and they both get confused by all the medical jargon.)

The treatment is called TheraSphere (or, generically, radioembolization), and it’s a low-risk procedure for most people. Dad, however, is 90, and at that age, his kidney function is about half of what someone under 40 has.

(Fun Fact: On average, we lose 10% of our kidney function every ten years after age 40.)

The procedure today is to map out the arteries they need to “seed” with the glass microspheres. As such, it involves giving Dad contrast, which is very hard on the kidneys. So this low-risk procedure is actually high-risk.

Dad went into the hospital at 6:00 AM, and as of 9:00, they were hydrating him to help his kidneys best handle the contrast. Then they’ll begin the procedure itself, which involves going up through the femoral artery into the liver (where the cancer is).

After that, Dad will have to lay very still for a few hours, while the entry point clots and seals up, because femoral bleeding is very serious. They expect to release him at 5:30 tonight, which makes it a long day for him and for my mom and sister, who are at the hospital with him. I imagine it’ll be a long day for me, as well.

Cancer is a bastard disease. It’s taken my brother Rich and my dear friend Sherry, among others. It took my cat, Mistletoe. My mom has a slow-growing cancer (chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL), but the doctors tell her something else will kill her before the CLL will. And now cancer is threatening my dad.

All of which is to say, if you can spare a thought or some healing mojo for my father today, please do.

I thank you.

Typical liver tumor being treated with TheraSphere® (Photo credit: ThereSphere Patient Guide, BTG Interventional Medicine)




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