Well today was a big day as it feels like I have been waiting to start the new Radium treatment for ages!
What is Radium 223?
Radium 223 is a mildly radioactive form of the metal radium. Radium 223 can shrink areas of cancer cells that have spread to the bone. This reduces symptoms, such as pain, and helps you feel more comfortable.
How does Radium 223 work?
Radium targets bone cancer cells. This is because it is similar to calcium, which is also absorbed by bone cells. The cancer cells in the bone take up Radium 223 and it then releases radiation which travels a very short distance.
This means that the cancer cells receive a high dose of radiation which can destroy them. And healthy cells receive only a low dose or no radiation.
We had a midday appointment so had plenty of time to get up to the UCLH.
We arrived slightly early and so nipped to a coffee shop for a nice coffee and a cake and soon I was feeling good and ready for treatment.
We made our way up to the fifth floor and the Nuclear Medicine department and after checking in it didn’t take long for my name to be called and we were taken into a room where the Radium 223 would be administered.
The procedure was to be done by a Doctor, a cannula would be fitted by a nurse and there was a scientist present to oversee safety. There was also a registrar in attendance so a very serious procedure that is actually very simple in how it is administered.
Which is via a cannula and only takes a few moments once everything in place.
They do take great care to avoid any spillages or accidents as the clean up would need to be very carefully done and with great care.
We did notice that the staff were wearing colourful rings which are actually small radiation sensors and help monitor the amount of radiation that the nuclear medicine are exposed to. They are sent off to a lab to monitored.
The dose administered had an activity level of (MBq) 6.27 and looked to be just a small syringeful of liquid of which every drop was used by drawing blood into the syringe and pumping it back into my arm.
And before I knew it I was putting my jacket on and we were heading home.
For the next week or so I have to be very careful when going to the toilet as effectively I would be urinating radioactive urine and so had been advised to sit whenever going to the toilet. To be very careful with any spillages and thoroughly wash after going to the toilet.
I should also drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated.
The main side effects are diarrhoea and sickness as well as some fatigue and initially some bone pain. We will have to see what might happen. Fingers crossed all will go well and I will not get any side effects.
Right now, I am pleased to be home and catching my breath, I have high hopes for this treatment and hope to avoid any serious side effects!
In terms of hospital appointments, I have a fairly quiet few weeks ahead with an outpatient’s appointment booked for the 15th December where I will also have blood tests and so on. So apart from knowing how I feel I am not going to have any results until then.