Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 6, 2009

MRI results – very bad news

The MRI results are back and the news isn’t good. They found at least 7 tumors in her brain.

So the dilemna now is the twin pillars of risk and where along the continum to err. Sheila’s on heparin and they need to change her to lovenox, and increase the dosage to prevent a fatal embolism. But at the same time, the increased dosage could cause the brain tumors to bleed which could trigger a stroke without warning.

We had a small army of doctors come in to tell us the news and discuss the pros and cons of the two types of radiation treatment – targeted or whole brain. Then Dr. B finally showed up after we raised a bit of hell about her absence and lack of response to a message we left yesterday with her office, and her unresponsiveness to the doctor who paged her twice this afternoon. We weren’t pleased at having to get the news from a “strange” doctor and not having Dr. B’s “read” on the MRI.

Targeted radiation really isn’t an option because it would take 10 days for them to do all the calculations and programming for that many tumors before Sheila could start treatment. Seems like a long time to do that, but that’s what they’re telling us. More importantly, there could be, and most likely are other brain tumors that they can’t see at the moment and would therefore be missed.

So whole brain radiation is what we’re going with. There are of course side effects to both – less with targeted, “more” with whole brain.

Our preliminary discussion with Dr. B is that they’re going to err on the side of preventing a PE rather than worry about a stroke, because a PE is more likely to occur than the brain tumors bleeding. She’s going to talk more with Dr. Lawson, the radiation oncologist and get back to us in the morning at the 10 o’clock meeting we have with her.

After our initial shock and crying period, she’s resolved to keep fighting and is taking it in stride. We don’t have much choice, per se, but to just keep plugging away with the treatments.

The doctors sent a message off to USC to see if this will affect Sheila’s eligiblity to continue in the trial. The UCSD doctors don’t think so, but it’s up to USC. So that’ll be the other shoe we’re waiting to fall.

She’s sedated at the moment, but the nurse is due to bring her pain medication, Oxycodone, in at 8pm. She gets a long acting, (12 hour) morphine pill at 11pm. 

Understandably, neither of us want to be apart tonight, so I’m going to spend the night.



  1. ken MdA has Proton Therapy for brain tumors my husband also just found out his cancer moved to brain. MDA told me appointments were available immediately, don’t know if Sheila is up to traveling, just some info you may not know about.

  2. Thanks Tammy, but Sheila can barely walk – and certainly not without oxygen – so traveling is out of the question. I’ll find out tomorrow, but I believe that they have that here as well. UCSD is also a CCH like MDA, so I suspect they have much the same equipment. Plus, the new radiation center actually just opened about a month ago, so I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t have the latest technology. I’ll check though. Thanks….

  3. Ken, I just read your blog and I’m so sorry to hear the results of Shelia’s MRI. I hope the doctors can find the right meds to help relieve her pain and make her more comfortable. Please know my thoughts are with both of you.

  4. Thanks for the note, Cathy. Sorry I didn’t respond earlier. But your attention to her is appreciated…

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