Treatment Begins - Week of 1/13/03-1/17/03
With successful surgery and a favorable spinal tap behind us, preparations were made for chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  Mo's therapy consists of 31 radiation treatements and 9 courses of chemotherapy.  The radiation will be given daily (though he has weekends off) while the chemotherapy treatements will vary over 15 months.  There are two parts to the radiation therapy, the first 13 treatments are applied to Mo's head and spine, and the last 18 are a "boost" to the part of his brain where the tumor was removed (the posterior fossa). The chemotherapy also has 2 parts.  More details about the treatments will be provided on a separate page.  The radiation is applied by a sophisticated X-ray machine, while the chemotherapy medicines are liquids and are given to him either intravenously or as drinkable liquid.
Because much of the chemotherapy medicines are being given intravenously, Mo had a "port" placed in his chest.  The port sits under the skin and it allows the doctors to easily insert the IV tubes whenever they need to give him medicines and/or draw blood for tests.  The port is a small, layered disk with a tube attached to it.  The other end of the tube is attached directly to one of Mo's veins.  See the treatment page for pictures and more details.  The port was implanted on 1/9/03, this was a short surgery under a general anaesthetic.  Later that day, Mo received his first dose of chemotherapy.  He will receive 7 more weekly doses to complete the first course of the chemotherapy treatment.
Mo's healthcare has become quite a complex system.  Both the chemo- and radiation therapies have their own side effects, and he is being given a number of medicines on a daily basis to reduce these side effects and prevent infections.  As his susceptability to illness will be increased during these treatments, we must try to limit his exposure to germs, and if he gets sick he must be examined at the hospital.  At the time of this writing (1/17/03), we have already returned 3 times.  On Friday 1/10, he was admitted with a high fever.  The fever subsided on Saturday and we returned home on Sunday 1/12, but at that time he had pretty bad jaw pain from the chemotherapy.  This made eating and drinking difficult, though medicine helped alleviate the pain.  The jaw pain lasted a few days, decreasing in intensity with each day.  His doctors and the nursing staff informed us that jaw pain will sometimes only appear after the first treatment.  At the time of this writing, he had the second chemo treatment over 72 hours ago, and thankfully there has been no recurrence of this side effect!

Linear Accelerator ("Linac") 4 with Mo's body and head molds.
Not as scary as it looks!
The first 13 radiation treatments require Mo to lie perfectly still on his stomach.  During the week before the therapy began, special molds were made to insure that he lies in exactly the same position on the machine each time he receives a treatment.  The mold-making was a laborious process, requiring that he support his head on his chin for over 2 hours.  As with all the tasks he has been presented with throughout this ordeal, Mo came through with flying colors and without a complaint!  He is an incredible trooper.

During the week of 1/12-1/17 Mo received his first radiation treatments (1/day).  The first 3 treatments were 1- 1.5 hrs. because the radiation team was careful to make sure he was lying in exactly the right position each time.  This involved taking Xrays.  The final treatment of the week only took 1/2 hour, which should be normal for the rest of this first set of treatments.
Unfortunately, Mo has been beset by a number of complications and side effects, and it is difficult to determine the exact causes and treatments.  Ever since the week before his surgery, Mo has had very little appetite, and by last week, we noticed that he was becoming visibly weaker.  On 1/15 he was started on a medicine to increase his appetite, and on 1/16 he was started on an intrevenous feeding program through his port.  After starting the IV feeding in the hospital, we continued to use it at home for the next few days.  This definitely helped Mo rehydrate and get some Calories and nutrition, giving the appetite enhancer time to work.  Unfortunately, on the third night that he was getting the IV nutrition at home (Sunday, 1/19), he had a nasty reaction to it and we had to discontinue its use until we could figure out what was going on.  As he was also experiencing cramping and acid reflex, Monday 1/20 was a lowpoint.  He surprised us on Tuesday however, by waking up pain-free and hungry!  His walking had improved and he was in the best shape since coming home from surgery.