PhotoDynamic Therapy and Me

I am not much of an athlete but I try and stay active and get outside every day even during the work week, even when it is cold, I try and spend some time getting some fresh air..

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I also have fair skin and having that and being in the sun is not the best thing. I like to go hiking, bicycling, geocaching, trailrunning, all sorts of stuff. 

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I wear a 110 SPF sun screen every single day of the year and always wear a hat. Still I am on  a first name basis with my Dermatologist, (I call her Dr. D). I go there at least twice a year and get my pre-cancerous cells blasted with liquid nitrogen. She has had to scrape a few off and one time I had to have some “chemo cream” on my forehead. That was a sight I tell you!!

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So a few months ago I was in her exam room and she was blasting away and then said we needed to talk. She suggested that since I had so many pre-cancerous lesions she suggested Photodynamic Therapy. What happens is that spread a cream with a medicine that is preferentially absorbed by the bad cells. That takes about an hour. (I call it the marinating phase.) And then they expose my face to a strong light source that reacts with the medicine and kills the bad cells. (I call that the cooking phase.) So this week I had it done. 

Alan - before pdt
Post Marinade and Cooking phase

The marinating phase went off without a hitch. The technician cleans your face really good, finished off by a rinse with alcohol, and then spreads the cream on  your face and then I waited for an hour. And then I put some goggles on and stuck my face inside the light device and she turned it on and wow, was it bright, and hot. The reaction with the skin starts right away and the lights also make it heat hot and it was getting a little intolerable and then she gave me a fan to hold and direct upward and that got rid of the heat generated by the light and the stinging from the chemical got better in a few minutes.

Pro Tip 1: If you go through this, I highly recommend a small fan you can hold in your hand. It made all the difference in the world to me.

This baking phase only lasted 16 minutes and it passed fairly quickly. Then the tech shut off the light and wiped my face off with cold water which felt pretty darned good. She had an outstanding suggestion for any post treatment burning and tingling. 

Pro Tip 2: Get some Aloe Vera gel and put it in the refrigerator! That was her outstanding suggestion and it worked. I love aloe vera gel anyway but when you put it on your burning skin and it is refrigerated,it stopped the burning cold.

So for 40 hours afterward I have to stay out of the sun, and away from windows and even strong lights. In about a month I will go back to see Dr. V for an evaluation and I am told and I read that often a second round is necessary so maybe I’ll get marinated and cooked again. 

I am extremely thankful for therapies like this that prevent malignant cancers and I am also still amazed at health care in this country where if you are employed and have insurance, or if you are on medicare, life is good, and if you don’t have insurance, well your goose is cooked.

Want to know more? Check out this Medicine.net article for some good information and you can type “Photodynamic Therapy” in your favorite search engine to find out even more.

In the meantime, I will be switching even more from baseball style caps to wide brim styles. Anybody know of a wide brim bicycle helmet? I can run with a wide brim hat, that is no problem. I will also be seeing Dr. V at least twice a year for the rest of my life. 

Pro Tip 3: If you are having skin problems go see a dermatologist. One that is a lot younger than you. You don’t need them retiring just when you need them the most.

4 thoughts on “PhotoDynamic Therapy and Me

  1. Driller's Place

    I can only imagine what it is like to have your head microwaved for sixteen minutes. Glad to know all is proceeding well. Awesome advice…pick doctors at least 20 years younger than yourself (at least in my case) and take every advantage of your insurance and/or medicare. I manage my healthcare between the VA and Medicare. It is working very well. One of my health issues, AFib was initially diagnosed by a nurse practitioner. That probably saved my life or at least prevented a major stroke at some point. The best healthcare in the world in found right here in the USA.

  2. Amy Franks

    yes I”m like you with my skin, if I do’nt put on sunscreen, and only certain types I burn within 10 minutes. I have to be extra careful outdoors.

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