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Gloria & JC

We arrived in town on Saturday afternoon. We kind of pushed, 372 miles today, but glad we did. Rapid City, SD is our legal home and our home Elks Lodge. We decided if there was a spot at the lodge, we would park there and go RV park shopping on Sunday.

The Elks Lodge has 9 spots with water & electric and room to boondock. We got a one of the nine spots with no problem. We had done some legwork when we were in Maryland trying to line up some place to stay for 2 to 3 months that did not cost an arm & a leg and the ability to stay in one place. The major problem in this area is August when the Sturgis Bike week is scheduled for 2 weeks. Everything is booked or charges too much.

Anyway, after checking out several options we found the most ideal through some blog friends, Art & Connie. We have been following their blog for quite some time and they read ours, but we have never met. This summer they are workamping at a B & B that happens to have 6 RV sites. A couple are for the workampers and the others are available. The B & B owner does not advertise these campsites because her focus is the B & B and restaurant. Well, such a deal for us. It will cost us $400 per month which includes full hookups w/50amp. We will be on gravel, but it is large gravel and clean. The sites are a little cozy, but comfortable. And, it is out of town, but only 10 minutes from the hospital. It will be fun to get to know Art & Connie. We will probably move Tuesday or Wednesday. We will be staying at Sweetgrass Bed & Breakfast.

Today we met JC's Radiology Oncologist and Medical Oncologist. We spend most of the day learning all about the cancer he has and the treatments available. Then, choosing the course of action. By the end of the day we were experiencing a little bit of sensory overload with all the information we were trying to absorb.

He will be receiving 33 radiology treatments. These will be administered every day for 5 days, then off on Saturday & Sunday's, then every day for 5 days, and so on. The radiation treatment will only take about 15 minutes. The type of treatment is called TomoTherapy. It is a sophisticated method of radiating a narrower field targeting the the specific areas where the cancer cells reside. It is a machine similar to those that take Pet or CT scans. It is a much better approach because the advanced computer system can map the exact location of the tumor and plan just the right angle and dose amount in three dimensions with pencil thin beams increasing the accuracy of the radiation delivery.

At the same time, he will be receiving chemotherapy. Specifically, Cetuximab (Erbitux). He will receive treatment intravenously once a week for a total of 8 treatments. The first one will take about 4 hours and the remaining about 3 hours. This chemotherapy is a little gentler with fewer and milder side effects. Specially, no nausea or vomiting. The most common side effects is fatigue and dry skin (especially hand & feet). There are others, but everybody is different, so we will just have to wait and see.

A few things have to be done before the radiation therapy starts. A mask of his face has to be made so that when he go enters the IMRT machine, his face will be in the exact same position every time. He need to get a fluoride treatment on his teeth to give extra protection from all the chemicals. He needs a PET scan which is scheduled for Friday. This will show in more detail exactly where the cancer cells are located, and ensure that all the cancer cells are found. An example is that maybe cells have started to spread to other lymph nodes. This helps determine intensity and location of treatment. We will meet on Monday, the 18th with the radiologist to finalize the treatment plan and any other loose ends. We anticipated treatment will start by the end of next week.

Tomorrow, they start the chemotherapy. The type we have chosen needs a sort of jump start so it can work with the results of the radiation treatments. The chemo makes the cancer cells more sensitive to better receive the radiation.

We are very happy with the doctors and all the staff. We feel confident that they know what they are doing. JC is being treated at the Regional Cancer Care Institute in Rapid City, SD. This cancer center is the only one for hundreds of miles. There are many cancer patients from all over South Dakota, Wyoming and other neighboring states.

So, I know it sounds funny to say I am looking forward to the treatments, but the sooner we start the sooner it will be gone and we can get on with our wonderful life.

One more thing....we had a very special end to our day. About a year ago, November I think, we were in the Apache Junction area and met a delightful lady, Gloria. She and her husband had been full timing since 2007. Tom suddenly passed away. She continues to travel the country by car and live in the RV over the winters. We had gone on a hike together and have followed her blog ever since.

Well, she is on her way to Chicago and detoured to Rapid City so we could have another visit. She is such a vivacious, energetic, infectious individual. She passionately misses her husband, but has a grasp of coping and that is truly admirable. I admire her guts and fortitude. We spent a wonderful evening sharing a meal and talking about everything. She is a 3 time cancer survivor herself and had so much to share about her experiences. She has seen so much of the country and remembers everything. It is amazing. She is an example of what make this life style so special.

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