Radiotherapy

Getting measured

To be honest I was really nervous about Radiotherapy, 30 sessions of being blasted with Radioactive waves, Mon-Fri for the next 6 weeks. I wasn’t so nervous of actually lying under the big machine but the thought of what it was doing to my insides. I had heard the stories of people getting burns through to their back and blisters. I went to see my Spiritual Healer and she gave me a crystal to always take in with me in my pocket. She said it would help protect me from the harmful rays and make sure I was only getting the radiotherapy that was needed. I know I was protected all the way through treatment so it was a nice thought to have it on me.

First things first they needed to take measurements, they would blast my whole boob for 5 weeks and the last week they would give me a booster to pin point the exact area where the cancer had been. They had to be mm perfect as if you moved slightly the waves could hit your heart and that would not be good. I was also informed that it would have some effect on my lungs.

My treatment had been delayed as my seroma was still not going down. They couldn’t risk my body shape changing so I had to keep going back to get re-scanned. Finally I was ready to start my six week treatment at St Thomas’s Hospital. It was going to take about 3 hours out of each day! But it was another adventure and work would have to be worked around it. Since having Cancer I never ever get stressed anymore. Another bonus!


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Day One

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I met Kevin at Waterloo and we walked to the Hospital together. The staff were really friendly, the first session would take a while as they needed to set up and double check everything. I took my blue hoodie with me as you needed to change before hand so I could strip off my top half quickly. It’s surprising how you get used to walking around topless and not having a care in the world.

They call you in and you sit in a small compact changing cubicle to wait whilst the person before you have completed their session. It’s like one big conveyor belt system. I used to leave the door open as it was more free and less depressing. Most of the people having radiotherapy were quite old, in their 60′s and older I never saw anyone my age the whole time.

You are called in and there are about 3–4 people. They position you on the table with your hands above your head and hold that position. If you sneeze or move it could be harmful to the rest of your body. They call out all your measurements and align the machines to perfection, then the big overhead machine comes over and the staff leave the room and close the big doors shut. You are left to get blasted. Usually music is played in the room. The machine is switched on and you hear the noise of the machine as it moves over your body sI will never forget the sound. It doesn’t take long at all. The nurses come back in and you can relax, take your lying mat with you and off you go into the changing room and are ready to go home until the next day.

Elekta 1, 2, 3 & 4

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St Thomas’s have a lot of Radiotherapy departments. I used to alternate around them all. Some had pictures on the ceilings of nice dream like environments others you just had to look at the boring grey ceiling.

The last week was my booster week. This time instead of blasting the whole area they pinpoint the section where the cancer was. The machine comes right up close to your skin. They mark the area with an ‘X’ so they know where to position the machine. Radiotherapy is strange as it plays a lot on your mind. Taking yourself to a good mental state is key. I used to imagine been surrounded by a white light of protection and imagine myself in some beautiful environment. I took my time on the bed to meditate and also think of all the other people in the hospital going through much harder times than me.

On the walls in the Radiotherapy room were face masks for those people that had brain tumours. They were marked with the person’s name. I used to think about those people as I lay on the bed.

In my 5th week by boob was very itchy, basically all day long it would itch. I used to cool it down by sitting with ice in a bag pressed against it. I developed a rash that looked like a heat rash but nothing severe. I used to use a lot of aqueous cream recommended by the hospital. I wouldn’t use this product today after looking at it’s list of man made ingredients. The cream adds a layer of oil over your skin which makes it seem like it’s lovely and moisturized. In reality it prevents your skin from releasing harmful toxins through the pores, allowing the toxins to be absorbed back into your bloodstream.

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Last Day

Today was a milestone as it was the last day of my major treatment. It had been quite a journey. It was a strange sensation of happiness and a sense of freedom. The nurse called me and Mum in for a chat she advised me to slowly get back into life, to try not to stay in bed all day and slowly my energy would come back. It’s a shame that this is the talk that’s given, just assuming everyone is not coping so well and not getting on with normal life. Cancer doesn’t have to stop you and for me it only gave me more energy for life. It was time to celebrate.

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