Follow my unexpected cancer journey...the good, the bad, and the ugly!
No, you don't feel the beams going into you, it is just extremely awkward. You're laying on a table in your body form (not to be confused with body bag) and have your arms up by your head holding two poles. They open the top part of my gown to see my 6 markings they put all over my body to show where to line me up exactly each time (these markings and stickers have to stay on till I am done with radiation). You then get a belt...no not a belt at all.....you then get a girdle that they pump with air so you won't breath heavy. Let me just tell you, this doesn't help the breathing situation. If you're ever in an awkward position at a dr and they tell you to breath normal, the first thing you do is breath not normal...that's your brain laughing at you. However, in my case and where my tumor is (literally the worst possible location) one small movement and the beam goes just a millimeter the wrong way and it hits a pretty important body part such as my heart and esophagus etc.
With this being said, in my case it is extremely important I breath "normal". I couldn't do it the first time, I tried everything I could think of. My second treatment I decided to try and think of other things. I tried counting the tiles on the ceiling....but then ran out of tiles because I can't move my head to see them all, I tried to close my eyes and not think about the massive machine moving around me....nope still didn't work. Then I attempted singing, DEFINITELY not out loud because I wouldnt want to scare off any of the nurses...and well, that would mean my mouth would me moving anyway. So here comes the fun part. I couldnt just sing an easy song my brain knows naturally like the ABC's or Jingle Bells...I can sing those in my sleep. I had to think of something that wouldn't come easy and that would keep my brain thinking of just that and not multi task like I can with Christmas or educational songs : )
Don't ask me how or why, but I somehow started singing "The Fifty Nifty United States" song we learned in elementary school and performed in a school event. I'm not much of a geography fan and have only traveled to 3 states so knowing them by heart and in alphabetic order really isn't at the top of my priority list...I mean my brain would totally rather use that space for Christmas songs. It's a song i literally have to concentrate on to sing and so far it's helped focus on breathing correctly...because when you don't, it all goes downhill. Let's just say I am going to be an alphabetizing and state pro by the end of 5 weeks!
YOU'RE DONE....nope, just kidding
My PET scan was December 29th. You get a PET scan to make sure your tumor/Cancer was taken care of with the intense chemo...if not, the fluid they inject you with will light your body up anywhere there is movement or growth. I had mine done basically the last day in 2017 so I knew it would be a few days to get the results with the holidays etc. By January 4th I still hadn't heard from my doctor so I gave his nurse a call. Was no news good news?
The nurse called back about an hour later saying my Dr had just looked at the scan results this morning and he wanted me to come in the next day. To which I replied, "well I already have my appointment with him next week, can I not just wait and still come in then?"
Nurse: "No, he wants to see you first thing in the morning"
Lovely....that just sounds like great results are comin' my way!
The next morning I was at my oncologist. Long story short, the PET scan showed my tumor was still active, when it shouldn't of been with the crazy intense chemo regimen I did. Something about the SUVs (whatever those are) are supposed to be under 5....mine were 15. So I had 3 options, that weren't really options and all eventually led to radiation. So there I was with another caner treatment looming over me. I just THOUGHT I was done after chemo....ha, "just kidding" said life.
That very day I had to go directly across the street to meet with my new radiation oncologist, get fitted for my radiation form I had to lay in every time, and get the laser markings on my body that showed where to line me up each time and I had to keep these on the duration of radiation. Because if being bald isn't fun enough, lets just throw some permanent marker and stickers on you that have to stay there for 6 full weeks.
I unfortunately had to wait for a while to get insurance to approve radiation. The day it was finally approved, they literally got me in 2 hours later to do my first session. I have a total of 22 sessions, every day. If all goes as planned and the weather doesn't go crazy again, I should have my last session February 16th. I did however schedule all my sessions for after 4 so I can still get a job and work and just go after. Now more than ever I definitely need a job/income. Let the radiation fun begin and lets get this show on the road, I'm ready to REALLY be done this time.
"You either get bitter or you get better. It's that simple. You either take what's been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you."