"I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals"
Yeah. I was going to try and find a way to tie in this newest phase of my journey through Breast Cancer Land to the Imagine Dragons' popular hit, but instead, the lyrics seem to match up more with my recent adventures in home renovation, than with my cancer treatment. And, fact of the matter is, when I think of "Radioactive," it's The Firm's version that tra-la-la's through my brain. Yes, I truly am a child of the Eighties.
Anyway, though I did begin my treatments today, I'm not actually radioactive. Think I mentioned this in the previous blog, but I'm receiving "external beam radiation," rather than "internal radiation therapy" or "brachytherapy." I think I like the sound of external beam radiation better -- it sounds almost space age in a Star Trekky kind of way.
Come to think of it, the process itself has a sort of other-worldly sense to it. Once I'm properly begowned, the tech walks me into a vault-like room -- it has a heavy door that's about 6 inches thick and a lot of large pieces of equipment that look like an old mainframe. I lie on a table on my back, arms outstretched above my head, and this roundish device with a glass covered face swivels around me at various angles. When it's directly above me, I can see a bright green line from it lining up with the marks on my chest (which I can see in the reflection of the glass.) When it's to the side, I can see its innards adjusting to various positions. They look like squared-off metal teeth, sort of like the steel comb inside a music box, and call to mind a space alien working its mouth into various expressions. Only the machine isn't there to gobble me up. Just to briefly emit some rays at me. And the process is brief -- once they have me on the table and lined up, the beam-shooting itself only takes 5-10 minutes.
And then I'm done for the day and off to work. I'm told the effects are cummulative, and the fatigue and skin irritation won't kick in until about week three. For now, I feel no different. I'm supposed to try and keep my arm out to the side whenever possible to lessen the heat build up. And supposedly I can wear deodorant (y'all can thank me whenever you see me), but it's a special kind that's supposed to be less irritating. Seems I also may want to invest in a couple of comfy sports bras as those of the underwire variety can add to the irritation.
The weirdest instruction I've been given thus far? There are special parking spots up front, right next to the building for "Cancer Center Patients." I've seen them whenever I've gone, but eschewed them, assuming they are reserved for, you know, Cancer Center patients! Of which I am one. I keep kind of forgetting that.
I did sneak my pal Chernobyl (compliments of my friend Annie) into the treatment room with me. He stayed in my purse, though. I think he's already radioactive enough.