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Radiation and chemotherapy begin

March 2006

On March 20, Sadie had surgery to implant a Port-A-Cath in her chest. Two days later she began 6.5 weeks of radiation therapy, combined with daily carboplatin and weekly vincristine. She did not receive treatments on weekends or holidays.

Sadie received targeted radiation to the top right tumor site for five days, then 22 days of full craniospinal radiation (covering her entire head and spine), then five more targeted treatments. Her last day of treatment was May 5.

Early side effects

March–April 2006

  • The first little clumps of Sadie’s hair began to fall out about two weeks into treatment. (Radiation / chemotherapy)
  • Sadie gradually felt more and more nauseated; about four weeks in she began vomiting, at first once a day but up to four or five times a day by the end. (Radiation / chemotherapy)
  • Sadie’s skin on her head and along her spine became red and started peeling, much like a sunburn. (Radiation)
  • Sadie developed ‘chipmunk cheeks’, acne on her face and chest, and stretch marks over much of her body. (Dexamethasone)
  • Sadie lost nearly twenty pounds during treatment. At the end she was barely eating: one french fry or one sip of milk on a good day. (Radiation / chemotherapy)
  • Sadie’s short-term memory started to worsen; she would forget recent visitors, what she last ate. (Radiation / tumor)
  • Sadie stopped having periods during treatment as a result of the assault on her bone marrow. They resumed (briefly) nine months later. (Radiation / chemotherapy)

Treatment ends

May 5, 2006

Sadie was worn out by the end of treatment, too tired even to celebrate making it so far on her last day of therapy. But we were all happy to mark the start of her recovery and begin counting down to the next MRI. Had her treatment worked?

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