The Radiation Situation
Well, the break is over. For one nanosecond I felt back to my normal self, and just like that the universe claps back and says “Nah, girl you still have 5 weeks of radiation.”
Fuck you, universe.
But seriously, it was nice to have the break. I did everything I wanted to do with the 3 weeks in between chemo and radiation. Steve and I went to Vermont, I had a few celebratory fall beers with friends, and relished in the fact that my bones did not ache due to Neulasta pain. My time was also becoming my own again.
Well that is, until radiation.
For those of you who have had radiation, you know what I am talking about. For those who haven’t, let me drop some radioactive knowledge on you.
Let’s start here:
Why do I need to have radiation?
I am having radiation done as a preventative measure, much like chemo. This is also due to the fact that my margins were pretty close during surgery. Meaning, my tumor was so close to the skin, that they want to be sure there aren’t any stray asshole cancer cells setting up shop.
Then there is also my age. My Oncology team just wants to make sure we are literally attacking from all angles. There’s full on Hunger Games shit happening in my body right now.
So….what’s your radiation schedule like?
Monday-Friday for 5 weeks, or 25 treatments. Think of this as a job. You go to your job M-F — I go to radiation. The time I spend on the machine is literally 15 minutes, however I have had 3 treatments so far and have waited close to an hour for all of them so it ends up being longer than I anticipated.
What does treatment feel like?
Nothing. Literally. There is like this major laser beam looking contraption hanging over you. I am asked to take a deep breath in for 30 seconds and hold it. Why? Because my treatment is happening on my left side which is the heart side. In order for your heart and lungs to stay safe from radiation, you are asked to hold your breath so they basically move out of harms way. YEAH, SCIENCE!
Not nearly as bad as chemo. Not even close. After awhile there might be some skin irritation and soreness. Oh, and fatigue. The fatigue just never stops, and it is anticipated that I will get more tired throughout the course of my treatment. I guess there will be more naps in my future. Darn.
Now that we have the particulars out of the way…..
I have had 3 treatments so far. At every treatment, there has been someone that has rung “the bell.” What is the bell? The bell ceremony is a ritual that some patients partake in to mark the last day of their treatment. Everyone then stands up and claps for the person. There has been some controversy about the bell, as some people view it as disrespectful to those who have more time or a different prognosis. I find it so inspiriting and touching. In fact, I have choked up every single time. Everyone deserves to live their truth and celebrate the end of the shitstorm.
In 22 more days, this girl gets to ring the bell. And I’m ready.