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Risky, But Worth It

So we have a plan.

I'll be starting radiation soon. My doctor is going to do general radiation over most of my spine, and then do very specific, targeted radiation where the tumors are threatening my spinal cord.

I've had radiation before and it wasn't a problem. The worst part is lying on an unpadded bench. For a back that's not long out of surgery, that's agony.

Of course, when you sign the consent form, the possible side effects they list are pretty scary: kidney failure, bowel obstruction, incontinence, vomiting, and so on.

Now it's true, those are rare. But they must have happened to someone some time.

There is a bigger and very real danger, though. Paralysis.

Your spine can only tolerate so much radiation. Since I've had it before, in order to give a high enough dose this time, we'll have to go above what is considered the normal tolerance level. That could mean I could end up paralyzed.

If the spine receives too much radiation, the paralysis usually isn't immediate. It can come months, or even years, later.

But we think that we'll still be at a pretty safe dosage level, that the chance of paralysis will still be very low.

And here's why it's worth the risk. There are tumors very close to my spinal cord. If we do nothing, if they are allowed to grow unchecked, I'll be paralyzed for sure.

So this was actually an easy decision.

I'll take risk over certainty any time.