Mrs. Lisa K. Briles is currently an inactive RT(R).
any of you have seen the movie
. This movie is about a man, in his prime, who sees a light in the
sky. He subsequently suffers some very strange occurrences. His
senses are heightened. Transformations in perception and values
occur in him and especially in those with whom he comes in contact.
We come to find out that he is afflicted with a nasty brain
tumor, which ends his life. Before he goes, he helps his friends
gain an appreciation for life and all its wonders. This movie is a
real tearjerker but a movie just the same.
I am currently looking at the MRI scan of a man in his
mid-sixties (not in his prime but still full of life). There is a
right parietal mass directly under the skull. It's the size of a
small tangerine. It's a stage 4, encapsulated, cancerous tumor
(astrocytoma-glioblastoma, the same type of tumor that struck down
John Travolta's character minus the fingers). The midline shift is
quite noticeable with a measurable amount of edema. This is the
second mass. He has three months to live.
The first growth was removed six months prior and followed by
radiation therapy. (He didn't see a light in the sky, but he did
see the legendary light of radiation therapy.)
His "phenomena" aren't spectacular like those of the character
portrayed by John Travolta. As far as I know, he hasn't predicted
any earthquakes. This man's symptoms started with headaches. Later
(and still to some extent), he suffered a decrease in peripheral
vision, short-term memory loss, and left-sided weakness. Decadron
and phenobarbital are necessary in managing the tumor and its
, this case is also a tearjerker; more so for me because this
patient is my father.
As professionals immersed in this environment, we easily can
become callous and numb to the emotional and physical turmoil some
patients and families experience. Sometimes, this is for
self-preservation; other times, a person simply gets used to his or
her surroundings. If the patient load is heavy, we easily get
caught up in the rat race.
Having personally seen both sides of this patient/professional
fence, I'm a little more empathic and patient with clients and
their families. There is so much fear and frustration involved when
facing illness and the unknown. Even on our busiest day, it only
takes seconds to facilitate a smooth exam. A kind word and a smile.
A clear and honest explanation of the exam and its instructions. A
gentle touch while positioning. This person is ill or injured and
frightened, as are the family members in the waiting area. This is
someone's father, sister, or child. This could be you.
Sometimes, life does imitate the movies. Miracles can
At the time my father was diagnosed again with cancer, he was
given three months to live. He has made it to Thanksgiving. He has
made it to Christmas. These were the last holidays, we thought. Now
he also has seen his youngest granddaughter turn 2.
My father recently had another MRI. The tumor is still there but
no longer growing. We have a number of options available if it
resumes growth. The edema, due mostly to radiation, has subsided.
The midline shift is minimal, and you can see the ventricles on the
right side again. If the remaining tests are normal, he'll be
weaned off the Decadron. The Decadron and the swelling are
responsible for most of the physical and emotional symptoms.
What does the future hold? I don't know, but I believe in