Treatment Countdown 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

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Okay, so I look a little tipsy and my tag is sticking up (I told you they made us wear the capes backwards). Maybe I’m just drunk with happiness to be drawing ever closer to the end of this process.

That’s my spine on the screen there. In addition to my radiation treatments, I also have what’s called “on board imaging” each day, The technicians take two x-rays to be sure my body is precisely positioned to receive those 6 million photons in exactly the right place. Once a week they take an additional set of x-rays as another check. I wasn’t kidding either when I said I feel like I ought to be glowing by now.

The whole process is incredibly high-tech. There are physicists on staff who use preliminary CAT scans to “map” each patient’s dose at the beginning. The delivery is controlled in part by my breathing—I have to watch a screen inside the treatment room and breathe in until I hit a defined target area; only then is the radiation is delivered.

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The five screens above are located outside the actual treatment room, and they are used by the technicians to administer my treatments remotely and monitor the machine and me during the process. The first time I saw the bank of them I was reminded of the control room of a spaceship in a sci-fi flick—until I noticed my name at the top of every monitor. It’s not how I would have preferred to make my screen debut.

Done with #5, and only four left to go!

 

 

Treatment Countdown 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

6 Million Photons…

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According to my radiation oncologist, my radiation dose consists of 6 million photons.

I think this is a daily dose (as opposed to an overall total), and in fact, since I receive treatments from three angles, I may be receiving 3 x 6 million photons each day.

Guess clarifying that’ll be one more of those one-last-questions I’ll need to ask at my final consult with him. 🙂

Danger, High Radiation: I just might be glowing in anticipation of my treatments nearing an end.

And, yes, those ARE little lightning bolts all over my shirt.

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Just five more: Beam on!

 

Treatment Countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7…

7 More Vogue Poses

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No, I don’t receive my radiation treatments standing out under a tree (how much more pleasant a prospect…), or while listening to pop music from 1990.

I do, however, assume this position for treatment each weekday: arms stretched above my head, the left cocked at a lower, tighter angle due to ongoing mobility issues, my head lifted and turned to the right both to watch the breathing monitor that governs my dosages and to expose the lymph node basin just above my clavicle, all the better to zap it.

Standing up in the position, as I am here, I look like I’m vogue-ing, a la Madonna.

Lying on the table beneath the machine, I feel more like I’m a TV crime show victim awaiting a chalk outline.

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It can feel a little grim there on the table, centered in the red line cross-hairs of the laser positioning beams, listening to the whines and whirs of my radiation being delivered.

“Strike a pose!” Now just six more to go.

Treatment Countdown: 10, 9, 8…

8 “one-last-questions”

So, all of my doctors know this view: me, holding a journal, my mouth open, asking the latest in a string of just-one-more questions.

They may sometimes wonder if there’s anything in my journal -except- questions. But each of my practitioners, including my radiation oncologist Dr. Buck, has answered each query patiently and thoroughly.

We’ll have one more consultation next week. And I’ll probably have a few last questions. 🙂

The countdown continues!

Treatment Countdown: 10, 9, …

9 gowns awaiting…

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So here’s what’s kind of funny about these gowns: in the closet where I have to fetch one each day, they are labeled “capes.” Does that make all us irradiated folk each some kind of superhero?

Even if they do make us wear them backwards?

Considering the fact that more than one superhero has gotten their powers in weird laboratory snafus that involve things like (accidental) radiation, well…

I’m gonna put on this cape and fly right on outta here!

10 Treatments and Counting…

Things have been a little crazy lately, between daily radiation, a brief work trip, and a non-blog writing project with a fast-approaching deadline. I am glad to report that, including today, I am down to my last 10 radiation treatments! Inspired by a friend’s comment on Facebook, I thought I’d do something a little different this week, and post a pic each day to mark the countdown. Though I will still have quite a ways to go with reconstruction and full recovery, concluding radiation feels like a significant milestone, as it marks the close of my cancer treatment. After so many months, that feels pretty major.

I’ll soon be back to regular posts (I have a backlog of stories to share, including a more in-depth reflection on radiation, and more books and hats. Always more hats.)

But for now: the countdown is on!

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10 Treatments and Counting!

 

Heartfelt Wishes

Happy Valentine’s Day…

to my husband, who has risen above and beyond again and again;

to my parents, who’ve made multiple visits from Georgia to offer their love and encouragement;

to my sister-in-law and fellow survivor Lisa, who came from Nevada to support me before and after surgery;

to my brother Todd, who shaved his head and told me about Essiac tea, and offered to visit;

to my nephew Ethan, who shaved his head and donated his hair to Locks of Love;

to my stepsons Dusty, who had special pillows made for post-surgery comfort, and Tucker, who has made me laugh (and groan) with many puns;

to all the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and technicians who’ve been tasked with my care and cared for me so well (and answered, answered, answered my endless questions);

to Shannon and everyone who fed us though the Meal Train during chemo;

to Brandy, for the pixie cut to soften the blow of losing my hair;

to my Girls, for shaving my head, for taking me wig-shopping, for taking me to the movies–for always being there, in so many ways;

to my dear ones near and far who sent cards and chocolates and flowers and books and bath salts and bears and so many generous gifts I can’t begin to name them all;

to the friends who “Sandee-sat” when I felt too icky to move, and to those who got me out of the house when I really needed to;

to Sarah, for gentle, restorative yoga and poetry that saw me through some tough days;

to Rita, Mindy, and Pat, whose healing touch has healed me at various points along this path;

to fellow survivor M., whose kind messages and advice have been a bedrock of hope;

to all my many cheerleaders who sent encouraging words via text and Facebook and Messenger;

to all the readers of my blog, who liked and commented and cheered me on;

to the folks who ordered “Be The Tea” shirts for a good cause;

to the Writing Center tutors, for their kind and caring notes (and Jenny, for making it all happen while I’m away);

to my colleagues at RC, for helping me take the time to heal;

to the good people at First Presbyterian, the church of my childhood, who have offered up many prayers;

to all the ladies in my support group, especially our Fearless Leader Catherine;

to Sandra, Mike, and Jolina, for making my pre-surgery photo-shoot beautiful;

to the gentlemen valets who’ve always parked my car with a smile at Blue Ridge Cancer Care;

to the TSA agent at the Atlanta airport who said, “This will not be the end of you, you know that, right?”

and to all those courageous souls who advocate for human and civil rights for all people, including the right to decent health care, because without it, I might not be writing this note–

You are all my Valentines.

With thanks and love, wishing you a beautiful day.

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