Inquiring minds want to know, so: The actual radiation therapy takes around 3 minutes. Not including getting undressed and dressed again. On Mondays, I visit with the doctor who asks how I’m doing and then tells me to keep applying aloe gel. Riveting, right? Those days the appointment lasts maybe 20 minutes tops, the most frightening part of it being when I step on the scale. The longest visits are the ones when we do simulation. We did that at the very beginning and again a little over a week ago.
During the last seven appointments, they focus on the actual tumor bed, so the simulation allows them to take measurements and X-rays to check they are targeting correctly.
In simulation, you lie down on a table with your “damn traitor” boob exposed so they can start turning you into a human connect-the-dots game again. This time there was a fun moment when the tech looked at my breast,then learned in for an even closer look and said, “Wow.”
Not certain if “wow” was good or bad, I squashed my immediate impulse to respond with a sarcastic, “Yes, they’re pretty spectacular, I KNOW.”
As it turns out, they were looking for the incision where the surgeon went in (twice) for the lumpectomies. Potential TMI coming up, so skip to next paragraph if you don’t want to get too personal, or if you are squeamish. The doc went in by making an incision just at the edge of the areola (wince). See, if you use professional language, it’s easier to deal with. Despite two procedures, it is nearly invisible. (As evidenced by the two tech faces bent extremely close to my um, scar area, exclaiming, “Wow. Who was your surgeon? Dr. Ganaraj? She’s amazing.”)
I couldn’t agree more.
Once THAT was established, measurements and X-rays began again. More lines being drawn on. This time with green instead of blue. Then to the CT scan to confirm the alignment. I left with three new clear tape circles covering green Xs and a renewed, unwelcome realization that this is some serious shit.
UPDATE: At this point I’ve had 4 treatments of the tumor bed. They have a special plate that is made just for me – to focus on the tumor bed specifically – as determined by the simulation session. They were telling me that some people end up with plates shaped like the US, or like Texas. (Not exactly the plate but the hole in the plate.) Apparently, in cases of mastectomy, often the hole in the plate is shaped like a penis. (How’s that for adding insult to injury?) We can’t decide what mine is shaped like. The tech said Woodstock’s head. (Snoopy’s buddy.) You decide. This is the view from lying on the table – so what I see.
Since this awesome fun time is nearly over, I took some other photos too – here is the massive machinery behind the door I never noticed before.
Here it is in motion.
This is the room where you get the treatment. Not like a sterile hospital room, right? It’s like getting radiation therapy in someone’s sort of messy office.
Here’s another view of what I see from the table. See the purple light beams in this photo and the one of the plate? Those are what they line my green Xs up with.
The current phrase that pays is “GOOD-NESS I’m tired.” Seriously, some mornings I think if the bed was on fire I’d just lie there. (Probably thinking it was another hot flash.)
But we’re in the home stretch. Just three more treatments! Until then, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.