Saturday, November 9, 2013

Life on the Radiation Table

They really do try to make radiation as pleasant of an experience as it can be. The ceiling of the room is covered in stickers of planets and some of the ceiling panels have been replaced with a blue glowing constellation. The technicians are kind and personable. The whole experience, even as your skin is getting more and more burnt, is nice.

The radiation machine looks like one of those microscopic sea creatures. I had to google it to figure out what specific creature I meant and have decided that it looks like a Water Bear. I try to keep my eyes closed for the majority of the treatment since I have this irrational fear that if I open my eyes, all of the radiation in the room will burn them out of my head. On the occasion that I absolutely must sneak a peak, the face of that radiation water bear is right in my face, and if you look beyond the black tinted window, there are things that look like teeth. They open and close in order to take X-rays, shoot radiation beams, eat my flesh, I don't really know.

A water bear:

I pride myself on knowing a lot about my disease and treatment but radiation is the one area I have not read up on. Frankly because it scares me. We spend our whole lives trying to avoid radiation: don't swim in the water by Three Mile Island, cover your body with metal blankets for dental X-rays, don't put your head in the microwave. After being told to avoid it your whole life, its strange to be strapped down to the table, just laying there and taking it, intentionally.

I'm in my last week of radiation therapy. Each evening my chest is bright red and it fades a little bit by morning. It is starting to get really sore on my side, the area of the lower axilla they are radiating because of the positive lymph node.

But as in all hardships, this too shall soon end. I can't believe I am a few days away from the end of my standard treatment. It's been a long 9 months and at the same time it's flown by. Because I've been blessed to be in the Herceptin arm of a clinical study I will continue to go to the infusion center every 3 weeks until the end of June. I will also keep popping my Tamoxifen each day, running 4 times per week, juicing, drinking the green tea, trying to lose this damn chemo weight, and of course lots of praying.  It comforts me that there are things I can still do after treatment ends to make me feel like I'm continuing to kick cancer's ass.