Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the last time

Today, I will go to radiation for the last time.

I'll enter the cancer centre and turn right at the door marked radiotherapy, scan my card to get in the queue, go and change into my robes (one backwards and one open at the front) and sit in the waiting room.

When my name is called, I will go and lie on a table that has been set up just for me. I'll slip out of my robe, lift my knees so they can put a cushion under them and tuck my left hand under hip. My right arm will go over my head and into a special brace. I won't move again until the end of treatment.

The therapists will spend some time making sure I am aligned perfectly, with the help of lasers, lines they have drawn on me (with permanent marker) and the five little tattoos I was given before I started treatment. When they are satisfied that everything is set up the way it should be, they will drape something called a bolus (pliable plastic-like material that draws the rays to the skins surface. Treatment will be interrupted part way through to remove it) across my chest.

Then they will turn off the lights and leave the room.

The door will close with an audible click, a green light will turn to red and treatment will begin.

The machine they used looks like a giant lamp, with jaws at it's centre that open and close to control the amount of radiation emitted. As it moves around me, it makes a whirring noise and a high-pitched buzzing with each dose.

It will take only a few minutes to treat my back, chest, axilla (under arm) and clavicle (this felt like so much longer during the first week of treatment when I was still freaked out about being treated with radiation).

Then the therapists will come in, I'll say 'thank you' and be on my way.

I might cry.

Radiation was a pretty dehumanizing process. As a coping mechanism, I deliberately engaged the radiation therapists, asking questions or making observations. I am very grateful to the therapists and nurses who took the time to respond and who treated me as a whole person and not just body parts to be treated. I hope they realize what an enormous difference this made.


Suzanne said...

Congratulations. You've made it through a horrible 8(?) months. I hope it all worked and you never have to relive this experience. I know the friendships you've forged with your support network, the friendships you've strengthened through this ordeal will continue to enrich your life. Let us know what happens. You have our respect and ourlove.

Chris said...

Right on. You are a pinnacle of strength, Laurie. Here's to many happy days at the end of which the bad bits of this experience will be 24 more hours behind you.

Warmest wishes,