Radiation time!

I take back what I said yesterday about the hardest part of the radiation prep process being the removal of the stickers. The hardest part was actually scrubbing off all of that marker. Ouch! I still had faint lines all over my chest when I arrived for radiation today….and then had more drawn! The technicians needed to take more films of my radiation area, particularly around my clavicle today so that’s why there were more lines drawn. Additional lines were also drawn to line up where the technicians would place the bolus, which is used to help radiate more (for me) (google it, it’s so weird looking).

This additional films took a little time; I was moved around and repositioned a bit and then we were ready to start. If I had to guess, the total amount of time that I was actually being radiated was….maybe 3 minutes? I had to hold my breath a total of 5 times, one time for only 3 seconds and the remaining between 17 – 23 seconds based on my counts. The radiation machine moved around my body to align the beams to the area being treated. It’s interesting because when the machine is over my head, I can see the lead parts inside of the machine move. The entire area of the beam is pretty large and is perfectly square, maybe about the size of a 10×10 inch tile. The lead parts (I don’t know what they are actually called) inside move around and form the exact shape that is being radiated on my chest. So I don’t receive the entire square of the radiation beam, just the area that the lead parts form. Neat, huh?

The technicians are in a room off to the side but they can see me through a window & cameras and can also hear me throughout the entire treatment. When they tell me to hold my breath, they can tell whether or not I am breathing in too much or too little based on the way the beams align to the marks on me.

As I laid on the table, receiving my first dose, I thought about how amazing this process is. It doesn’t hurt at all (right now, that will likely change in the coming weeks) and yet I know it is destroying me inside, for the purpose of helping to keep the cancer away. It is such a pretty red light that can do such incredible damage.

Next, I saw the radiation oncologist (who I’ll see every Tuesday throughout this process) and we talked again about the side effects of treatment and what to expect. I asked a lot of questions to help refresh my memory based on the notes that I had taken. I asked if she had a preference of the lotion to use, since there were about 6 listed on the sheet. She suggested a product called Miaderm, which is pricey but works best, mixed with a few drops of Calendula Oil twice a day. Since I am so fair skinned, I can expect to have a pretty decent reaction so I opted to try the better stuff in the hopes of helping alleviate some of the redness / burning. Here’s hoping!

I asked about the fatigue, which shouldn’t be as bad as it was during chemo but she did indicate that people my age tend to feel the fatigue much worse. Let’s hope it isn’t too bad.

After all that fun, I headed to my checkup with the oncologist. I had lots of questions as usual and he helped answer them all. My blood work looks great and he believes (or has no reason not to believe) that once my body is fully healed from all of these treatments, that I will move on and be completely healthy. I can’t express how good it felt to hear that.

So, day one done. Only 29 more to go! Actually, maybe less. I learned today that I will have 25 “normal” rounds of radiation and then 5 “booster” rounds that will target the scar tissue around that area. Scar tissue is where cancer tends to return so she plans to booster the radiation during the last week. However, the entire 5 days may or may not be necessary…it all depends on how my body reacts and the amount of scar tissue. Hopefully I won’t need all 5!

I’m going to attempt to remove this marker again…anyone have a good trick?! The rubbing alcohol and makeup removing wipes are not working wonders yet…

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