Before starting radiation treatment I decided to write each day about my experience. Partly it was to help process how I was feeling, partly it was about documenting what I was going through. I never intended to show anybody else, it was a personal thing – but I did find that it was very helpful in processing the treatment and getting it out of my head until the next time. Another reason was that bizarrely, prior to treatment I had just started working with radiation oncology professionals, on a project to develop their team values. I chose not to have my treatment where I was working, it would have blurred the lines too much, but I thought it might be useful to give them a deeper insight from a patient perspective and for me to see both sides of the fence.
Little did I know when I started this that it would turn into a business.
Here is an extract from day 1 & 2 of my treatment:
Appointment is running late and I wait nearly an hour before I go in for my first blast of radiation. I am beside myself and so nervous about what to expect, I just want to get this first treatment over! The radiation therapists are both young one male, one female and quickly put me at ease. They talk to me every step of the way and explain what they are doing and what is required of me. They make sure I am comfortable with the positioning of my body. There is comfort in that. Laying there feeling exposed, I experience a sense of alarm each time the machine sweeps over me and think surely that is going to crush my arm? But it doesn’t. phew. Once in place which takes surprisingly little time the RT’s leave the room and I immediately go into meditation, focus on my breath being in the moment and telling myself this is healing not killing. After what feels like 30 seconds the RT’s return and tell me I’m done for the day. Wow, really? I can’t believe it is over so quickly and waste no time in getting up getting dressed and getting out of there.
Apprehensive but a greater sense of calm, after all I know how this works now. Whilst they are running late, this time I only wait 15 minutes. This time one male and one female but more mature, maybe in their 40’s. Whilst they are both polite and friendly, there is no chit chat this time which at the beginning is fine as I just want to get this over but as they position my body I feel more like an inanimate object than a person. I end up in a really uncomfortable position and my right arm and down my back feels slightly over stretched and pulling. They don’t ask me if I am comfortable and so I don’t speak up. After all I just want to be done with this and speaking out might mean more uncomfortable pushing around. They leave the room and I try to meditate and focus on my breath but I am not feeling it. Somehow this time it feels different although I can’t explain why. It seems to take forever which I know is not true. And then finally over and again I beat a hasty retreat. But what’s this? I can feel heat internally and a pain going down my back on the right side, it feels like it is internal and beaming out. My thoughts run wild. Can this be rays? Surely not and anyway my treatment is for the left breast not the right….. Is this a result of overstretching muscles, but if so why the heat?