Last Friday was radiation simulation day. I laid on yet another skinny platform and slid into yet another over-sized tube. My arms were way above my head and my head was tilted towards my right arm. The net result was indeed quite uncomfortable for the as-yet-recovering left region; thank goodness I've been doing physical therapy to decrease the discomfort. Fancy (CT scan) and ordinary (digital) pictures were taken to map my insides and outsides. Huzzah to the discovery that my heart is tucked away deep inside my chest and is nowhere near the left chest wall, which is the region to be radiated! Lasers pointed out coordinates on my body, and three of those coordinates were permanently marked on my body by a pinhead-sized tattoo. To accomplish the tattoos, the technician placed a drop of dye on each coordinate and then jammed the dye into my skin with a single needle poke. One is front and center on my chest, visible with most V-neck shirts. The other two are on the sides of my torso, near where my elbows rest. They look like blue freckles. And that was the end of radiation simulation.
Today was radiation dress-rehearsal day. In the time since my simulation, the medical physicists took my data and plotted the radiation therapy that I am to receive. This is arguably the most important part of the whole third quarter because they are tailoring the radiation exactly to my body. The result should be maximized radiation therapy to the chest wall while minimizing damage to organs. Today I got to go into the actual radiation room while the technicians took X-ray and digital pictures, again while laying on a skinny table, to confirm that the radiation will go exactly where the physicists have directed. It was quick and painless, except of course for the stretching of the left arm muscles and nerves. Tomorrow will be even quicker, and the pain decreases every day. Yep, twice daily radiation starts tomorrow, and I'll have it every business day for 3 weeks.
The technicians took lots of digital photographs of me, mostly while laid out on the skinny table. This is to ensure that I get into exactly the same position every day, and I suppose also to confirm that I'm the same person every day. Wouldn't want to radiate the wrong person, that's for sure. I'm hoping that their affinity for photos will make them amenable to my desire to snap a few myself. It would be great to have a radiation photo series just as I made a chemotherapy photo series.
A barred owl has made its home in a tree in our backyard. Ian is credited with this fabulous picture of it. I'm taking the owl as a good omen, at least for the radiation portion of my cancer-treatment experience. It's hoot sounds like it's saying, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" I find it a very appropriate question for me and the radiation that will be cooking my chest wall.