July 17, 2007 § 7 Comments
The machine dominated the room. It looked like a lifesaver. I’m not sure what it did. Welcome to The Radiation Oncology Treatment Planning Center. Ironically none of my treatments felt like life savers. On the contrary they felt toxic and dangerous. I was still battling chemo-induced neuropathy (numbness in my hands and feet) and shortly after surgery I went head to head with debilitating jaw pain (trigeminal neuralgia). If that weren’t enough, I was prepping for lethal doses of radiation. It’s all so counter intuitive.
Measurements were taken along with x-rays at various angles. Calculations were made. I never even attempted calculus so I hadn’t a clue. I tried to crack a joke. No one laughed. They mapped the treatment area on my chest and I was told to remain perfectly still with my arms in clamps above my head for close to an hour.
This seemed very much like the kind of thing they might try at Guantanamo until of course Amnesty International intervened. Where were the human rights activists when I needed them?
There were four men in white lab coats, all busy; adjusting an arm, making a mark, taking a measurement, taking an x-ray, consulting with each other. I lay on the table with my raw scar and my one lovely right breast exposed. I was the center of attention and invisible all at once. The precise treatment areas were permanently marked with purple tattoos the size of freckles around the area formerly known as my breast.
Target #1: My remaining lymph nodes near my collarbone for 28 treatments
Target #2: My left chest for 30 treatments
Target #3: My left chest, from the other direction for 30 treamtments
When planning was completed I was gracious and smiled at the doctors and technicians as if I had a dandy time. They smiled back and posed for the picture above. They even took the photo of me below. Everyone was very nice.
Two weeks later after the team crunched numbers and programmed their machines we had a full-blown dress rehearsal. I brought my ipod and pretended it was a musical. The following Monday was the real thing. Again I brought my ipod, and Frannies palm sized moo cow for good luck.
9:30am Monday thru Friday for 6 consecutive weeks. The parking is free and they’re brilliant about getting you in and out fast. Still, I tried to weasel out of this phase of treatment. My perky self was wilting.
I use more pictures now because I am speechless.