I have begun radiation yet again. While this isn’t my first rodeo with radiation, I cannot even believe how far this particular modality has come! Wow. In five years it is incredible the strides that have been made.
So the other day while I was knocking out day 3 0r 4 of my 25 daily treatments- I said to the technician, “Yep I can’t believe how far all the technology as come.” (I was so silly proud at this very moment to be a “Lifer” because who else has that kind of knowledge but the techs?) The technician looked back at me and said “What do you mean”?
Well, to start with the actual set up “mapping” appointment was insanely more efficient. Instead of the process taking 90 minutes, I was in and out of there in less than a half hour. In my original radiation they had to check, recheck and check again before filling what looked like a garbage bag full of concrete. Yes, crazy picture in your mind yet? Then you are still with me! Ha. They fill this bag and where I was radiated (right breast/axilla) I was instructed to lay topless, exposed on top of this bag with my arms over my head. Ah yes, dignity be damned! Gone. This bag would turn into a hardened mold in which I would lay in the exact same spot each day. Then the tattoo I had been dreaming of all my life came. It was a set of blue dots on my top and side. Oh yes, my dream tattoo ends up being but two guides to stream toxicity into me. Talk about a total let down. Then in and out of what looked to be a ct machine with lasers. And Voila! Ninety minutes or so later I was on my way out. The awesome Dr. K would set it all up and I would begin daily radiation in days.
Today, however – I walked in they had me change into a gown, I got aboard the medical table express and boom we were setting my mold before I knew it! Yes, no mold full of chemicals! Nope, this time they had me exposed…again! But the mold was being pumped full of air! Holy novel idea. I like it. Because let’s face it air doesn’t need to set! Of course that feeling of total exposure was still a huge part of the process. This time we are working on my left side and the tattoos go on. Yes, I now have four tattoos that are not nearly what I would have pictured in my younger years! Ha. They are all the size of the tip of a ball point pen, more mole like than anything else. When the techs are setting up the lasers they leave the room and there I lay by myself on a table with my arms over my head, naked, exposed, alone, like middle of the universe alone, a few tears bubbling up. And despite this super ridiculous situation I can’t help but think, “I wonder how fat I look”? I wonder what techs think when they have to deal with women of my size? How are my abs ever going to get me off this table in a graceful way? Am I going to need a hand? If so, how embarrassing? I wonder if the laser is going to feel any different? I wonder if skinny cancer patients feel better about this? Probably not. I decide to close my eyes, as I am thinking here we go this is at least forty minutes if I remember correctly. But, what is that sound? What do I hear? Is that the door?Sure is and I hear the soft voice of K, one of the techs. “All done” she says. “You did great!”
Luckily for me K,takes my hand before asking if I needed a hand (thank goodness the weakness of my middle was addressed before I had to address it !) And voila! I am done! I come out of the dressing room to pick my very fancy radiation cape (trust me, my pick is fierce as hell! ha.) that will be mine for the next 5 weeks and boom, done. Lucky for me I see my lovely social worker on my way out. Seeing her is always reassurance for me, she’s been with my since 2010.
If I thought the mapping was a step into the future, my very first radiation treatment was really “Jetsons” like. Wow. Instead of a CT tube. I would be climbing aboard a table that moves up and down as well as side to side. The beam would be moving around me, instead of what seemed me moving around it. From what I (very limited science mind here) understand the pink bright light that projects on me is there as a safety stop as it measures exactly what my skin should look like if I am lined up properly. Can you believe that? The lasers will shut down if anything is even just a smidge off (I am so glad to hear this as we are messing close to my heart this time around). It’s all pretty fascinating and takes 8-15 minutes total. Of course, laying there completely exposed, totally alone still kind of sucks. But, these ladies tend to pump some sweet tunes in the room to quiet my inner “neurotic dialogue”. While I still panic about how fat I may look laying here like a slab of meat. I figure, they’ve seen it all. And by day 5 any circus music that comes with me climbing aboard the table is old news! Ha. Yet, still faint…
So, today is day 6 of 25. One thing that remains the same over the years is the incredible warmth of this office. The office is largely comprised of women. There is a certain togetherness, an unspeakable understanding, a comfort when you walk into this beautiful tribe of women. From the receptionists, to the nurses, to the techs, social workers, all the way to the incredible Dr. K. The office is loaded with some really good vibes. Now, let’s just see if those good vibes can carry me through to day 25!