Posts Tagged ‘radiation

19
Nov
18

tick tick tick tick

As those of you who follow this blog regularly already know, I have recently been diagnosed, and am in the midst of treating, breast cancer.

Since my tumor was on my left side, they like to have you do what they call breath-hold radiation, so that your breast is as far from your heart as possible when they zap it with their cancer-killing laser rays. (I might be paraphrasing.) for what is probably obvious reasons, they actually want you in the same position every time they do this, so you have to be put into position, have a system for repeating it, and learn how to hold your breath just so.

My radiation setup appointment was last Friday. First I had to lie on what they called a bean bag (hardest bean bag I ever laid on) on a sliding table that looks a lot like it’s going into a very small MRI machine, with my arms above my head. Then they let the air out so that you end up being encased in a kind of mold (as in “cast” not as in “green fuzzy stuff that grows on old food in your refrigerator”).

Next you put on some nose pincers (piercing, ouch), put your mouth onto this scuba-like breathing contraption (have I mentioned my overly reactive gag reflex?), and a pair of goggles while they teach you how to hold your breath at 75% capacity for 30 seconds. This is actually really difficult to do. Especially around 22 seconds, when every cell in your body is yelling

BREATHE 

At first they want you to breathe normally though, which I thought was kind of funny. Because it’s every day that I’m lying on a hard “beanbag” in a cold hospital room, with a hospital gown untied and folded down around my middle, three random people standing around watching, while wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles, scuba mask, and nose pincers.

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Like this, but she didn’t get the cool goggles.

See? Totally normal.

I do have tattoos now, albeit three tiny little dots I can barely find, and I know where they are.

It’s interesting/funny/odd/strange. The nurse who called with my biopsy results told me I had the “best possible bad news” and that “this would not be the source of [my] demise.” Except there is still an 11% chance of recurrence. And breast cancer has a funny way of coming back elsewhere and causing more problems. So even with radiation, and tamoxifen (of which I read all kinds of horror stories about side effects, which worry me greatly, especially the arthritis ones in which it doesn’t go away even after stopping the medicine — not what a pianist wants to hear!), it could still come back.

I know I’ve said this before, that it wasn’t like I thought before that I would never die and now I know I will. But now I also feel like I might be carrying around the thing that kills me, and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.

This is very difficult.

Like there’s a teeny tiny time bomb lurking somewhere in your body, too small to see, but when it’s really quiet, you can hear it…. tick……tick……tick…..

Let’s hope I’m wrong.




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