I had a rather large tumor on my left cheek. (I had actually taken to cupping my hands around it as I slept, so I could lie on my side.) I was referred to a radiation oncologist to deal with the tumor.

The local radiologist said it would need 35 gray (the unit of radiation) x 17 (17 straight days of radiation). No one mentioned anything about potential side effects, although later, when I Googled “cheek radiation”, I realized that the side effects could be profound. It could impact my bone, saliva glands, teeth and seriously impair my enjoyment of food. For a long time foodie, this was NOT ok. The quality of my life could have been profoundly impacted.

During a visit to Stanford, I mentioned the radiation option for this unsightly tumor. The young research doctor simply replied: “Do 2 x 2”. Two by two? I asked. “Just do 2 units of gray, twice. Lymphoma tumors are very sensitive to radiation.”

Needless to say, I did 2 x 2 and all was well. (My local radiation oncologist refused to talk to Stanford, and never followed up with me to see the good results. Definitely a doctor to ditch!) I pass this along in the hope that my experience may help someone else, especially with lymphoma. I also hope that it will make people aware of the potential consequence of these treatments andyour decision making role in the process.

Lessons learned: Ask questions, seek options, get second opinions, do not automatically do what anyone wants you to do, don’t be afraid to dump a doctor that is unresponsive, do your own research, listen, listen to your gut, get lucky!


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