1 down, 19 to go!

As some of you may know, I had my first radiation therapy appointment today! It was an interesting experience, and if I’m being honest, a little underwhelming. It felt very easy and laid back. I really like the branch office I’m at and everyone there was really great –  while this isn’t surprising since I have yet to have a bad experience with someone, it’s still comforting when you feel like they care. My mom went with me (thanks Mom!) and we didn’t have too hard of a time finding the place. They took me right back and I met with a nurse and doctor. They seemed to be less than impressed with how my face and leg are healing at this point so I’m not sure if they will pursue that at all or just let it to the surgeons who did it. Anyway, I will meet with a doctor once a week to go over everything, but they said that there is always a doctor there, so I can meet with one whenever if I have questions, even if it’s every day.

They then took me back to change into the oh-so-beautiful gown and meet the techs who would be helping me. After a brief meeting with them, I was taken back to where the treatments would be done. Unlike the big, cold, sterile-feeling room at Penn’s main hospital, this room was smaller and bright and warm. They had these huge digital photos of tropical scenes that were backlit and really bright on the walls. Then above the radiation machine (that’s probably not what it’s called….) the whole ceiling was a giant backlit picture of a tropical sky with palm trees, as if you were laying on the beach looking up. It was sooo cool! Of course, I didn’t feel like I was really on a tropical beach, but it was a really nice break from the coldness that typically goes along with a room like this. I’m probably describing these pictures terribly, I will see if they’ll let me get a pic next time (:

So then I layed down on the table and they had to get me situated just right. On went “The Mask”. (Haha it really isn’t so bad when you’re only wearing it about 20 min.) Then the techs and doctor had to make sure I was positioned EXACTLY the same way as I was during the simulation. So they put on my mask, clamped down my shoulders, lined up my tattoo, and took an x-ray to compare. Then they needed to fix my position (like literally moving my shoulders an inch to the right or moving my head and neck up a matter of millimeters) a couple of times, doing an x-ray after each time to make sure I was where I needed to be, then the treatment began! It maybe only lasted 5 minutes. Usually I’m bad at guessing time like that, but they have Pandora radio playing in the room so I am probably pretty accurate on this one. I can listen to whatever I want during treatments which is pretty cool. Again, a nice little touch to make you feel more comfortable. The treatment itself didn’t hurt, it actually didn’t feel like anything. I just layed there and the machine did its job.

After the treatment, I met with the nurse again for probably about 20 minutes to discuss side effects and the precautionary measures I need to take (like the daily flouride treatments and starting up a bland diet with soft foods. Not that I can only eat mashed potatoes necessarily, I just can’t eat “sharp” foods like chips or pretzels and need to stay away from spicy foods).

Here I am after my very first treatment! Hoolllllaaaaaa!

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Everything went really well and I feel a little silly for how worked up I let myself get last night. But part of that is mourning the loss of my pre-cancer life and trying to accept doctor appointments and tests and treatments as my new normal, at least for a little while. It’s not so bad yet, just a lot of planning and thinking ahead and talking about…myself. I’m gettin pretty sick of myself!! Haha but it is what it is and I really do want to share this experience with people in the hopes that it will help someone somewhere at some point!

I hope everyone is enjoying this Christmas season!!

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