X Marks theSpot!

My stay in Houston is half over as I just completed my fith of ten radiation treatments at MD Anderson. There is something, for me, about the radiation process. If you arent aware the treatments are very...eye opening. You are required to be completely bare in the area being radiated. So, if you recall, my first go round with rads I was required to remove my clothing from the waist down including my underwear. I was covered with a towel, sort of, and fitted into a frog leg mold created for me to maintain my position. It was a bit humiliating. I was covered in sharpy lines all over my pelvis and groin area along with the three tattos to line me up with the lasers.This time, I am required to bare myself from the waist up. They use a towel in an attempt to maintain some sort of dignity and as before I am fitted into a mold this one created for my upper body to maintain my postion.

My first day of rads as I waited to be called back I felt relaxed. I mean, this is clearly not my first rodeo. I kind of knew the drill and spent the waiting time reading and observing the folks around me. When the waiting room door opened and the tech called for me I felt a familiarity from this young man. It was almost like I knew him. Radiation techs have a certain way about them, an underlying compassion that seems to radiate (no pun intended) from them. I followed him through the door and stood outside a little cubby that had monitors and computers that control the prescribed treatment. He introduced me to two other technicians before he guided me through a doorway with an 18 inch thick lead lined door hinged to it. The room was dimmed and I saw my upper-body mold lying on a table under the radiation tube in the middle of the room. There was also a large donut shaped machine which he informed me was a CT scanner. He told me they would be doing a CT scan on me each day before radiation was delivered to me to gauge my breathing and ensure pinpoint accuracy of the therapy to protect the surrounding organs and tissues as much as possible. But first things first...they asked me what kind of music I liked. I asked for 70s music of course!  He directed me behind a small curtained off area to remove all my clothing and jewelry from the waist up and to use the towel he left on the chair to cover myself with. I stripped quickly and when I stepped from behind the curtain all three techs were waiting to help me get postiioned. It took a little wiggling and shifting to get into that mold but I could tell the instant I was perfectly postioned. I felt cradled and held securely. The refrain from Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" rose from the speakers in the room as I raised my arms over my head and grasped the padded bar for stability even though my arms lay cradled in the mold precisely as designed. All I could think was "Deja Vu". They adjusted my towel and then complimented me on the preservation of my markings from the Sim CT two weeks before. They peeled off the protective tape and darkened the lines on my hips with fresh Sharpie. They then removed the film that covered my new most recent tattoo just slightly to the right on my sternum and lined that tiny dot up using a laser beam coming from the ceiling. After instructing me to remain very still I detected the felt tip of the pen on my chest followed by new water proof tape.  Again I was instructed to hold very still as they pivoted the table 180 degrees to align it with the CT scanner first. I let the music wash over me as the scanner slid over my chest and took it's readings. I was then pivoted back and realigned with the radiation tube. A radiation room is so empty feeling when you know that lead door is closed. Even though you know they can see your every move and hear you there is something very isolating and lonely about it. As the tube was adjusted and started it's programmed delivery I felt the same thing I felt the first time I had radiation...a surreal feeling. How did I get here? Why is this happening to me? This can't be happening to me. Then I count the number of postions the tube takes, six in all. I counted off 30 seconds of "beam time" at each station. Then it is over and I counted four songs total that played throughout my treatment time. Not bad considering one was "Stairway to Heavan". They helped me up with the tech reminding me to take care not to rub or scrub off my new markings. He also told me a small "BB" was taped to my chest tattoo and to protect it with my life. I checked out my new markings in the mirror in the little curtained cubby when I redressed myself. I felt the BB with my fingers and was shocked to see that is was circled in electric green Sharpie with a giant red X added for good measure. I just stared at it for minute knowing that below that mark is the targeted node that held my cancer. I think I look a little like a classic treasure map....you know, X marks the spot!

3 people like this post.
6 people threw a punch at your cancer.
Cherie, Mari sent you a prayer.
5 people sent you a hug.
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I remember my first radiation treatment. I had no idea what to expect and was literally shaking when they put me on the machine. My rad techs were wonderful and got me calmed down. Your description of it being "surreal" is perfect. I'm glad you have X-ellent rad techs and may your treatment go X-tremely well. You my dear, are an X-tra special friend! Hugs to you!
Michele likes this comment
X marks the spot is exactly right...to X out this beast... My cousin who underwent pelvic radiation for cervical cancer said she told the nurses to stop putting the napkin over her "private parts" - if they wanted privacy for her they should put it over her face!! You are so calm and serene as you go through this latter-day treatment....hugs to you Michele and thank you for this post...
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You are so brave.. i wish i could just hug you.. I am praying for you... hugs and love Sabina
Michele, Kathy0121 like this comment
You sound like you have a wonderful team of rad. techs which I think is so important. Take care of that BB. I am keeping you in my prayers. Huge hugs, Linda
Michele likes this comment
Oh my goodness, this brings back my own treatments, and the funny thing (not really) is that they seemed like yesterday reading your post, but until then I really couldn't remember them. Hmmm, your surreal description was perfect, and having been there I can almost hear the whirring, feel the slight vibration as the machine rotates and re-aligns. Yup X marks the spot for the greatest treasure hunt in history; here is to a successful series and pray to God, Buddah, purple monsters and green sharpies they nail the bastard! Hoorah! XO Bobbi
Michele likes this comment
it all so resonates and I wish you well through this journey Michelle! However, although I usually can work out the abbreviations which a lot use on BFAC, particularly the medical/nursing ones, this time I just cant leave this ... I think I worked out that 'sharpie' is like a 'marking pen' but i really cant work out what BB stands for!??
Michele likes this comment
LOL...BB stands for ball bearing. It is most often used when referred to when speaking of a BB gun. We use our BB gun to shoot squirrels that eat our dogs food or shoot our dogs in the arse when they bark too much! They leave a nice sting behind :) thank goodness this one was just taped to my skin and not shot at me ;)
my goodness!!! thank you Michelle. I would never have guessed that!! it all sounds very barbaric which does surprise me! again a reminder that it seems its the disease that gets treated and not the patient in this horrible battle.
Michelle, this is one heck of a ride you're on. I'm glad you're taking us with you. I think about you often. Maybe the serendipity of that red X with an electric green circle is a sign you're headed for an early Christmas present.
Michele likes this comment
Positive thoughts Michele. Send an update when you are able. You should be able to play connect-a-dot when your treatments are complete!
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Vital Info


October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3


As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp


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