So I misunderstood somewhere along the way. I thought after being marked up today for radiation, I would then actually start radiation if I felt up to it. Not quite. Joe had the same understanding as me though, so I’m not entirely crazy.
Today was my setup, or mapping, appointment at the radiation oncology office. First step, the nurses had me lay down to get ready for the CT scan, with a nice view of the beach to look at above me. There was a pillow lying flat under my head that was filled similar to the way a bean bag would be. My arms were raised above my head and my head was turned to my right. The radiation oncologist, along with the help of the nurses, increased and decreased the air inside of the pillow while moving me around a bit. The air was then removed and the beans inside the pillow formed a mold of my head and arms. This will help ensure that I sit still throughout the treatment.
Next was the scan, which was done in a number of different ways. I had a regular scan done initially, where I sat inside the machine while it scanned and was then pulled back out. Next I had to hold my breath for 30 seconds while they marked certain areas of my chest. I had to hold my breath for another 30 seconds to verify whether or not I am consistent in the way I move when I hold my breath. Then I had to hold my breath for 30 seconds while inside the machine. Thankfully, the doctor had told me this ahead of time so that I could practice holding my breath prior to today. It was challenging to expand my chest fully after surgery and after each expansion so I’m glad that I had the weeks to practice. When I have the actual radiation, part of my treatment will require that I hold my breath for 20 – 25 seconds at a time. This helps to lift my chest and lower my heart so that it is not touched by the beams.
After the scans, I was pulled back out and they made some additional markings on my chest and then placed waterproof clear tape over the areas they marked and took pictures. Three down the center of my chest and one on each side, for a total of 5 marks. If the tape falls off or starts to peel, I need to contact the doctor and have them align the tape again. Lastly, the doctor confirmed that the scans were sufficient for her planning.
Next, the doctor will review the scans and determine exactly where the radiation needs to be directed. The markings will be used as the initial roadmap for my next appointment. I will eventually have small tattoos, each about the size of a freckle, which will help guide the radiation beams as well. As you can imagine, their allotted margin of error is miniscule so many precautions are taken to ensure accuracy.
So, that’s that for today. Once the doctor has put together the final plan, and my insurance approves the treatment, the office will call me to schedule the radiation. I should start within 7 – 10 days. I’m hoping for sooner rather than later, since it will be Monday through Friday for 6 weeks.
Side note, why are my glasses always crooked in the pictures that I post here?! Are they always crooked?! Eek!