For days after my consultation with Dr. Evans, my Radiation Oncologist, I felt a bit euphoric. I can see the end in sight. I just have to take it step by step. I had to get through one more chemo treatment, one more weekend of feeling like crap, then it’s onto the burning of my skin for six weeks straight. How hard could that be? I’m sure it won’t be that bad, as long as I abide by everything they tell me. No fragrant bath washes, lotions or deodorants – now is that all over my body or just the radiated area? No hot baths or showers – thank goodness winter is almost over. (Screw that groundhog!) Keep the area very well lubricated – lotion up three times a day. Ok, that one will be hard. I’ll have to be extremely dubious about that one. Stay hydrated (otherwise only drink alcohol in moderation). So, I’ll have that glass of wine every other night then. Get lots of rest – ok so one out of five ain’t so bad, right?
Before I start radiation, I have to have a scan so that they can get a detailed look at the areas in which they’ll concentrate. I go in, and see the various waiting areas for folks’ to twiddle their thumbs depending on where they are in the process. I’m directed to the one with two massage chairs and three computers which seems like it should be labeled, ‘you’re going to be here a while so you might as well enjoy yourself.’ A woman is seated, mumbling about her daughter never putting things back where they belong, namely a pen. Hoping that it will quiet her down, I give her the spare I have in my purse. Unfortunately, this gets her going even more. Trying to stay calm, I tone her out, smile and concentrate on deep breathing. The technician, Charles, comes to the rescue moments later.
I’m led to a changing/waiting area, where I disrobe from the waist up, get into a gown, open to the front, and then Charles leads me to the scanning room which looks very much like all of the other cat scan rooms I’ve been to before. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all! I sit in the chair as he explains what’s going to happen. I hop onto the ‘bed’, and lie back onto the blue recycle bag like plastic. Charles makes sure that it fits appropriately around me. He then takes the bag from under me and places it on top of the counter. He opens two plastic bottles and pours one into the other, seals it and shakes it furiously. He lifts the bottom of the plastic open and pours the new mixture inside, while spreading it around. I lift up so that he can place the plastic underneath me. I lie back. WOW! It’s warm! Charles starts taping the plastic up around me. I raise my right arm in order to expose my armpit, and move my head slightly to the left. As the liquid cools inside of the bag, it’ll turn to a hard styrofoam, making a mold of my torso. This is what I will lie on each and every time for radiation in order to ensure that I’m in the exact same position for each of the 30 treatments. As it warms, I start to relax, better get used to it now. The ceiling is decorated with a light box, replicating looking up at trees in the park and the clouds beyond, a beautiful cherry tree, as if I’m lying in Central Park and it’s a beautiful spring day. Ah, the irony. I lie there for about 20 minutes. When all scans are done, Charles comes back with a sharpie and starts to draw what seems like targets on me, in 6 areas. He goes back behind the glass to confirm they’re in the right spots, then comes back in to tattoo me. That’s right, he takes what looks like a hand trigger and inks me in 6 spots, 6 little moles that will forever remind me of yet another part of this journey, as if I needed another reminder.
When he’s done, I get up, get dressed and return to work, all inked up. At home, the girls get beyond the ink, but graham is constantly bothered by the targets, so for fun, I don’t shower for 2 days. I get my kicks when I can! Pictures soon to follow.