Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The radiation odessey begins

Today I began my six-week stint with radiation therapy. Overall, it's the most impersonal yet least invasive of the different treatments I've been receiving. It has a lot to do with mathematics. Angles and such.

A few weeks ago, at the planning session, they put me on a table and starting drawing on me with colored Sharpies, measuring me with rulers, and taking images using the CAT scan machine. I was told not to move: they would move me if it was necessary. I just lay there like a lump. The worst part was having my arms up over my head in a very uncomfortable position that made my hands and arms fall asleep almost immediately. The "tattoos" that they marked me with are more like freckles than tattoos. Just a few tiny black dots, so small you can hardly see them.

Last week, at the final "verification" session before treatment, it was more of the same: lying on the table, being written on with markers, and having my arms in the uncomfortable position. This time, they took x-rays instead of a CAT scan.

So today, at my first treatment, it was really somewhat anti-climatic. I got on the table (which is part of the radiation machine) and they lined me up; put marker on some of the tattoos so they could see them better; ran out of the room, and then zapped me. The machine made a louder noise than I expected, and it started above me to the left, and then swung around below me to the right to get at a different angle. (If you look at the image below, you can see how large the machine is, and that the arm that is swinging around you is quite huge and imposing.) I think the actual radiation part took less than 5 minutes. And that was it. Now I just have to do it 32 more times. And wait to see how my skin (and body) reacts to having this strange energy beamed into me.


Anonymous said...

Cancer sucks. I wish you the best of luck.

Barb said...

I'm really interested to hear more of your experience with radiation as my mom will be staying with me for 3-5 weeks while she has her treatments. Thanks for posting about this!