My name is Miles Austrevich. I was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor for the second time.
The first time I was diagnosed 11-20-08 and had three pure germinoma masses: one on the pineal gland, one on the pituitary gland, and a small mass in the back of my brain. I had surgery to relieve pressure that had built up on my brain as a result of one of the tumors blocking the fluid passageways and for a biopsy. The rest of my treatment consisted of four rounds of chemotherapy and about four weeks of radiation. My radiation treatment ended on 4-13-09 and all the treatment was successful.
On 12-08-09 I had a routine MRI a few days earlier than normal because I had been experiencing headaches for about a week and a half before. The MRI showed that I had a new tumor located in my left cerebellum. I had surgery on 12-21-09 to remove the tumor and to get a biopsy.
The surgery was a success, they got the tumor out and will get pathology results from it soon. The neurosurgeons were happy with my recovery and I stayed in the hospital until the night of the 25th. I could have gone home earlier, but both my parents and I wanted to make sure we had all the pain medication I was taking a little more under control, and waiting an extra day helped a lot with that.
Currently, I'm at home and have been resting a lot. My neck is really stiff from the surgery, so I have been lying down a lot so as to not stiffen it more. People have noticed my straight posture and my grandpa refer to me as "the plank" because i keep my neck pretty rigid when upright. The amount of headache pain since the surgery has gone down significantly, and the medication I'm taking has evened out so it is pretty manageable.
I go back to start the first phase of my stem cell rescue therapy on 1-04-09, which I'll talk about a little bit later. After that I start chemotherapy on 1-06-09 and I will have to do 2-4 rounds depending on how the tumor responds. Each round would be 3-4 days and happen every three weeks. Hopefully because they were able to remove all of the tumor I will only need two.
The stem cell rescue therapy will happen after the last chemo and consists of really strong and high doses of chemotherapy. during this period I'm going to have to be in the hospital for 4-6 weeks because the chemotherapy will make me severely immunosuppressed. The first phase of this happens before the other chemotherapy, they have to harvest stem cells from my blood while I'm healthy so that they can put them back into my system after I have the strong chemotherapy. On the 4th and 5th that'll be what happens, they will give me medicine that increases the amount of stem cells I produce and then filter my blood through a machine to separate out the stem cells they need to save. The reason they do this is that the stronger chemotherapy will pretty much kill off all my bone marrow, and they will need something to put back into my system for me to start producing blood cells again. Because of this I will have to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, and will have to stay away from crowded areas, such as school, for at least two months afterwards. The actual chemotherapy portion of the stem cell rescue is only about a week long, but due to the time it takes for my marrow to recover after getting the stem cells I'll have to stay in the hospital for a while.
I will also most likely have to have a small amount of localized radiation to the specific tumor area after the chemotherapy and stem cell rescue are over, but due to the recentness of my previous radiation, it will be a small specific area.
That pretty much outlines my treatment plan, although I don't know exactly what the timeframe is, other than my first chemotherapy starts on the 6th of January.
Although spelling it all out makes it seem like it sucks pretty bad, there is a lot to be happy about. I take solace in the fact that I've been through it once before so I have a much better idea of what to expect, and that dealing with the experience won't be as much of a shock this time. The type of tumors I had last time were one of the easiest brain tumors to treat, and although it is more aggressive this time, it is still very treatable and I have a much better prognosis than most recurrence patients.
So, it'll be a long haul, but I'll get through it. There is so much stuff I learned from my last experience that I can use this time to make my entire treatment a lot better than it was last year.