Monday, February 21, 2011

30 Sessions Radiation - Day by day

Day 1, Monday - I cycled the 23km to Wilgers hospital and had my 'briefing'. Apparently I will have trouble swallowing from next week, but I like food, so i will make a plan. I can do with shedding some midrif excess. The only thing that is uncomfortable is the position that I must lie in. The 2008 radiation makes it very painful to really stretch my left leg out straight, and this means I am quite uncomfortable on the flat hard table on my back. But that is a small price to pay. I will update this blog entry on a daily basis and record how I feel.

Day 2 - Cycled to hospital and back. Had my radiation. Still no side effects that I can specifically notice. Had some blood in my urine when I got back. It cleared soon afterward. I will call the urologist tomorrow and find out if it has something to do with the stent he put into my left kidney to keep the tube open. The 2008 tumor is getting smaller and is constricting the flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder. I think I will take a spinning session tomorrow morning and take the car to hospital.

Day 3 - Did not cycle today as I waited for the Doc to tell me about my stent in the kidney, but drove to hospital in the comfort of the Camry. Radiation was swift and there is no side effects yet. The Doc did call at about 19h00 and after a long discussion the verdict is that I can cycle. I must monitor the blood in urine situation. So tomorrow I can continue the training program.

Day 4 - I cycled to hospital and it felt good. I did not ride harder than the previous times, in fact I tried to keep it easy and not bump the bladder around too much, but still ended up riding faster than the previous 2 times. Still no side effects from the radiation that I can feel.

Day 5 - I had an early session because I want to go to Swaziland for the weekend to do some final scouting for the Beit2Cape trip that is coming up in May. Did 50 minutes of spinning and drove to hospital. The radiation machine had a problem waking up after it's sleep, so they were running about 30 minutes late, but soon it was my turn and my session went without a glitch. I still feel good and does not yet experience any side effects.

Day 6, Monday - After a super weekend full of adventure and stunning views in Swaziland, it was time to get back into the daily routine of cycling to hospital, get the radiation done, cycle back, rest... Felt good on the bike and was chased by a serious thunder storm. As I thought I outran the storm and about 500meters from hospital another storm blew over the mountain at the hospital from the south and soaked me. That was quite cool actually since I was riding hard and sweating. But after radiation I had to put that cold, wet clothes back on... Tomorrow is an early day. Need to be there by 07h00. I do not think I will ride there.

Day 7 - Took the Camry to get to hospital, and promptly got a lot of stuff to deliver afterward. Radiation was swift and efficient as always, and there are no side effects yet. Sneezing is actually also becoming manageable. I went for a nice recovery ride in the afternoon and met Andre and Vanessa. We rode together for a bit until I had to turn around. The pizza at Lapa Flo after the ESSA meeting was brilliant as always.

Day 8 - A short radiation session turned into a marathon session as I have to see a doctor every 2nd week to tell him I feel OK. This took quite a while, and then I had to go all the way to Eugene Marais Hospital to draw some blood. But I feel good and after all this waiting and driving I declared today a rest day. Will cycle again tomorrow.

Day 9 - Ran out of time with office chores and had to do some deliveries and collections, so the Camry took me to hospital. I do have a slight discomfort when swallowing, but I have not stopped stuffing food down my throat yet. Went for a 1h30 cycle after 16h00 and my heart rate seemed elevated in comparison  to my breathing. Normally it is the other way round. My lungs always feel like they are way to small to exchange enough oxygen. Will try and cycle to hospital again tomorrow.

Day 10 - Cycled to hospital and back for my session with the monster. I growled at me and then it was over. I am feeling better than yesterday and the uneasiness while swallowing is better today. Now for 2 day of rest from radiation. My heart rate was higher than normal again today. I will try and do a resting HR test over the weekend.

Day 11, Monday - I jumped on the bike full of vigor, only to realize that my legs felt a bit heavy and my heart rate was quite high, but I took it easy and it only took a few minutes longer to get to the hospital. I think too much wine & dine over the weekend may be a contributing factor, but certainly the radiation is taking it's toll. I have sore muscles under my left arm where the side radiation goes through, and swallowing takes a bit of effort, But otherwise I am in good spirit. Friday is monthly machine service day, so there is no radiation.

Day 12 - Rode the hard tail again to hospital today, and although I felt stronger than yesterday, my heart rate was quite elevated and I rode the same time there and back. I had a nice long rest at hospital since I had to see the doctor and the line was moving slowly. My visit did not take long as my biggest complain at this stage is that it is sore when I swallow, and that is not going to get better until after radiation. In the mean time I just endure the sore. Maybe soon I will change my diet and eat less spicy food, that may help.

Day 13 - I had a couple of things to do in the office and a list of things to get on my way back from hospital, so the Pajero had to stand in for the steed this morning. Radiation went well, although they were running a bit late. Went to see my friend the radiologist in the afternoon. The lump under my left arm seem to be one of my ribs that is growing back together. (it looks like it was broken during the operation), but the lump on my right ankle deserves more attention. I will make an appointment to have an expert decide the plan of action... Tomorrow is Thursday and then I have 3 days off of radiation with the monster being serviced on Friday. So on Friday I will have to build the new bike rack on the trailer. Time is few for the trip through the Baviaans Kloof coming up.

Day 14 -  Took the hardtail again and I enjoyed today's cycle. It was quite warm and I sweated like crazy, but fortunately the monster was running late, so I had a chance to cool down. Don't think the smell evaporated with the sweat - poor girls that must prod and turn me to line up correctly. Still uncomfortable to swallow, but fortunately whisky and water glides down nicely. Red wine burns too much. I don't mind...

Day 15, Monday - I had planned to ride to oncology with my mountain bike today but the weather and a flat wheel and lots of stuff put a spanner in the plans. I started giving the trailer a thorough once over and found a few niggles that needed attention, like a wheel bearing and some dry moving parts. I did not want to arrive at hospital covered in mud, so the Camry had to fill in for the bicycle. Radiation was no problem and the only side effect is the uncomfortable swallowing. I just wish the Doc would call me regarding the new lump on my right ankle...

Day 16 - Once again the list was long so riding was out. The day started with a visit at the Dentist to fix a filling that fell out on Friday, the off the Eugene Marais Hospital to draw blood. I managed to squeeze a visit to Dr Frantzen in regarding the lump on my ankle, and for now he does not think it is related to the cancer. So we will monitor it. Then I bought some spares for the trailer, wheel bearings. Then it was time for Wilgers oncology, and seeing the oncologist after radiation. Nothing new to complain about in this department. Back home I started the "Big Hammer" job of changing the wheel bearings on the trailer. I hope tomorrow will be a cycling day.

Day 17 - Although the weather looked ominous I decided I had to ride a bit and rode to radiation on the hard tail. I felt better than last week and rode 6 minutes faster there than any of last week's rides. I arrived dry and about 5 minutes after I arrived the heavens opened. I had my radiation session and by the time I had to leave the hospital the sun was shining. But all round me was dark clouds, so I rode swiftly and arrived back home dry and not to muddy. Another day done and dusted. Now I must rest and then have a look at the Pajero's Spot lights.

Day 18 - A hectic day of packing and last minute preparations for next week's tour. Radiation went well. Got 2 new tatoos because the ladies were worried that I might lose my marks in the Waters of the Baviaans Kloof.

Day 19 - I had a early session and directly after this we left Pretoria for a week of cycling through the Baviaans Kloof and Gamkas Kloof. Still no serious side effects other than the difficulty in swallowing.

Day 20, Monday - I was scheduled for late to make provision that we might be late coming back from the Baviaanskloof Tour, but this gave me a chance to unpack and sort the chaos and wade through 650 emails. Took the Camry to hospital due to the time restrictions. Radiation went well with nothing strange to report.

Day 21 - Still had some chores so the Camry was the preferred mode of transport. They started with the final 10 sessions so radiation took a bit longer as they had to take X-rays to make sure they are hitting the "new" target spot on.

Day 22 - Cycled to hospital today and felt good, although my heart rate seemed very high in comparison to my breathing. Must remember to ask the Doc about it the next time I see him. The scheduling got a bit mixed up and I had to wait quite a bit for my turn, but eventually it happened. It just meant I was very cold when I had to cycle back, but the first little hill to escape from hospital soon had the heart racing again.

Day 23 - I cycled to hospital again and my heart rate seemed to be more "normal". Still no side effects from the radiation. Makes you wonder if this machine does anything...

Day 24 - Had chores to do so I took the Camry. Nothing new to report...

Day 25, Monday - I had a meeting in Johannesburg after radiation and I had my weekly meeting with the Doctor, so I drove to hospital. (I had 2 good training sessions over the weekend, so I was also glad for the rest day) Big was my surprise when I saw the Doctor. He told me that he scheduled me for only 25 sessions and not 30 as originally planned, because the tumor needed to be bullied a bit with higher daily doses, but the total dosage had to stay the same to avoid other complications. So this was my last session, and now the waiting game begins. I will have to get regular scans to see if the tumor grows or dies. I might still develop some side effects like a light pneumonia, but I have a course of antibiotics and some steroides available if this should happen. Now I can get down to some serious bike riding again...


  1. Jaco, I'm counting the days with you, one at a time. Be strong! Gerda

  2. Hi Boerjkie a good read at last I got round to it... keep it up you never know one day it might turn into a Biography seeing that yr in the printing business ;) Keep it strong my friend I know u can beat that what is within.

  3. you are such an inspiration ... cycling to radiation, haha i wonder if the doctors have seen that before. Kia kaha

  4. glad this is over - now good luck for the waiting game - and happy 'serious' cycling!