The first of 17 radiotherapy sessions is done. Nothing exploded, skin didn’t melt and I gained no interesting superpowers. Lilah suggested that a good superpower to have from this could be ‘not getting sick anymore’. When I told her that this was exactly what the machine did, she was both surprised and delighted. Two minutes later she demanded that instead, it should make it so I didn’t die. I suspect this little fun game dug into her fears.

I turned up just before my appointment time and unlike last time, the little electronic timetable read ’82 minute delay’. One of their machines had broken down and all the appointments were shifted to the other. The waiting area was hot, dingy and full of unradiated customers. Luckily for me I live a 5 minute walk from the hospital so I popped home for a cuppa, wash the dishes and was back after 82 minutes.

When they called my name, I was led through to the machine room through what I can only describe as a cattle gate built by Ikea. Adding to the rural ambience was a giant photograph of a farm in idyllic countryside. Probably trying to draw your attention from the radiation warning sign just next to it.

I was a bit worried that because I had lost 2 kilos since last time that my boob mould wouldn’t fit and I’d have to do that whole process again. Seems I lost the weight in my knees though because it was all fine. All strapped into the mould and the three technicians spent 10 minutes getting the table and machine in just the right position, to the millimetre. The more precise, the less of my lung they hit and the more of the tumour bed they get.

After they were satisfied, off they went to their protected room. To be extra sure I’m in the right place they gave me an x-ray. What’s a few more blasts of radiation between friends? Then the radiotherapy beams began. There’s no sensation, no burning feeling. There’s no sense that anything is happening at all. There’s a buzzing similar to that of the MRI but other than the surreal sound of the Easy Lover by Phil Collins being blasted, there’s not much noise.

Five minutes later, it was done. I’m was up, clothes on and out the door. Only 16 more sessions and the treatment is completely finished. It’s been a slightly limbo like existence in the last few weeks. Each day that comes now takes me one step closer to the finish line.

6 thoughts on “Irradiated

  1. Lisa

    Yay, one down! The radiation sessions always felt mildly surreal to me: I went in, lay on the bench (bed? wide railing?), a machine whined at me, and then I got up and left. I always felt like asking, “That’s it?” It took longer for me to drive there and back than it did for the techs to get everything just right and then turn on the machine.

    Don’t forget: Miaderm and Aquaphor. They’ll be your friends.

  2. Sokari

    Hi Heidi, I was wondering when you would start being zapped. I admire you for persevering. I couldn’t face this treatment after everything else especially the 5 days a week for 6 weeks lawd Heidi you are brave.
    I’m happy to see your hair growing back, weight loss and you look radiant xxxxx

  3. Heidi

    Yeh Lisa, it’s pretty surreal stuff. And the technicians barely talk to you because they’re so focused on their millimetres! I’m really lucky to live so close to the hospital and my appointments are early so I get the rest of the day to myself. I imagine it would be very tedious to drive a long way and spend half the day doing it.

    Sokari, mine is only 3 weeks worth. I can’t imagine having to do it for 6! I’m not surprised you refused it. I feel like that was a braver decision to do what you felt was right. I’m just going with the flow and doing as I’m told 😉 it does feel good to have hair again, less chilly anyway…xxx

  4. Karen

    Hello love, how are you this week? It sounds like you are having a surreal time with your Phil Collins soundtrack and milimetre-obsessed technicians. It’s fantastic that you can have it done so close to your home. I hope it’s going ok as the treatments progress through these three weeks. Thinking of you and sending love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Heidi

      Thanks darling Karen. Yeh the soundtrack has changed to Tracy Chapman so I’m ‘talking bout a revolution’ while I lie prone and immobilised and strangers attack me sub-atomically. I am starting to feel the tiredness and have officially restarted late afternoon naps. There’s a bit of extra soreness inside the boob but nothing that ibuprofen can’t handle. Apparently the rads inflames the surgical site. Nothing so far on the skin surface so I’m hoping lathering myself in Lilah’s hippy calendula nappy cream is working its ‘planted under moonlight by virgin pixies’ magic. X

  5. Lisa Todd

    The techs who cared for me were a cheerful, talkative lot. They always wanted to know how I was, how my day went, and laughed when I snarked about the traffic. “Oh yeah,” they’d say, “We get that a lot.” The clinic is located in North Portland, and trying to get there at any time of day requires traversing a busy interstate highway and then busy side streets. I’m glad I could go straight home afterward.

    An afternoon nap sounds like a great idea!

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