Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been full of follow ups and acclimation to being at home. Zac is doing so well! His back pain is the best it has been in over a year. Except for the surgical pain, which is very tolerable, he is feeling “awesome.” His tolerance for activity is steadily increasing. He can be up about an hour now before needing to recline and rest. He has stopped using the cane altogether. Each night he is sleeping better. I’ve been very, very pleased with his healing.
On Wednesday, we met the radiation oncologist who will be prescribing Zac’s radiation therapy. The course will be longer than previously recommended; he will go to radiation five days a week, for six weeks straight. His treatments will start the second week of May. The area of radiation will be from T11 (just above the tumor) to the dural sac (the end of the cauda equina). This will guarantee radiation of not only the tumor area but also the borders and a little beyond. The daily dose of radiation will be relatively small, but with a large cumulative effect on the tumor. He can expect minimal side effects from the radiation itself. The most common side effect being fatigue. Nausea is also common in radiation of the spinal cord. He will be treated with nausea medicine before each treatment. Other than that, he has no precautions for handling the kids. The treatment itself takes very little time, lasting only about 10 minutes. The machines take longer to set up than it takes to actually deliver the radiation. He will have a CT scan next week to determine anatomical markers for where the radiation will be focused. Then he will be tattooed with those markers on his skin so the radiation hits the same area each time.
Also in the next few weeks, we will be banking his sperm. It’s a delicate subject and one that most people our age don’t have to think about. Because of the location of the radiation, there is a chance that Zac will be sterile after the treatment. While we have no formal plans to continue expanding our family, it was not a decision we had come to before his diagnosis. And because it is a HUGE decision, which I simply feel I cannot make in this moment, we will be banking some just in case. This is one of those things we thought we’d never have to do in our lives, and yet here we are.
His follow up with the neurosurgeon was on Friday. He had a MRI with contrast which showed NO CSF leak!!! The surgeon said he’s doing great for the rough hospital course he had. His staples were removed and he no longer has to wear the corset brace (which he is thrilled about). He is allowed to lift 10 pounds now and will start physical therapy in a week. From here, the radiation oncologist will order his follow up scans.
I can’t even begin to tell you how loved we feel. My parents have been saying that they’ve overheard strangers talking about Zac and our family at gatherings not knowing that my parents are part of our family. All of this touches me so deeply. Over the years, Zac and I have toyed with the idea of moving out of the area. But the one thing that has always kept us here is the amazing friends and family that we are so blessed to know. This community that surrounds us is incredible. We know how lucky we are. And we wouldn’t leave here for the world!
Believe in Miracles,
The Bollinger Family