I’ve now had two radiation treatments and it hasn’t been too bad so far. Not fun, but not humiliating like the ‘anyone-else-want-to-see-me-naked?’ mask-making session earlier last week, and as it turns out, not quite worthy of a panic attack. The only side effect so far is that I’m fatigued. Today, I came home and crashed out for a couple hours. I’m told it may take a couple weeks for me to begin to feel other side effects – burning, blistering, nausea, more severe fatigue, etc.
The pictured radiation treatment room is staged like a state-of-the-art planetarium set up for a VIP, one-person-only, showing, with classical music piped in. The technicians exuberantly shared that the lights on the ceiling were designed in the formation of the Bay Area summertime night sky. But who would really know what that’s like given city glow and fog? I sure don’t ever recall looking up at any of what’s on that ceiling. Maybe the artist designed it after a constellation of zits and we’re all suckers. Well, best to just say “Wow!” and keep smart-ass commentary to yourself when the very same folks are about to strap you down and cook you.
The technicians administering my treatments were actually very patient and pleasant, explaining to me exactly what would happen, showing me the night-vision camera from which they watch me in the control room, and always talking to me in a loud and slow sing-song tone like I’m a child being coaxed into eating broccoli, whilst they bolt down my face mask way too tight onto the metal grate, so that I’m sure to walk away with a criss-cross-waffle pattern embedded into my face and skull. After aligning my body, they place a clown horn in my hand to squeeze in case of emergency before they flee the room.
Three minutes on each side, like rare steak on a grill. It’s a short treatment. The eye of the machine rotates to treat my back first and then the front of my chest. The lasers line up with coordinates marked on the mask itself – NO TATTOOS!!! When I asked about tattoos at the dry run, I was elated to be told, “Oh no sweetie, we don’t need tattoos. You’re so tiny and thin.” They could use skeletal markers. I know this is sick and wrong, but this made me happy for two reasons – no tattoos, AND she thinks I’m thin. Good news and a compliment. I am admittedly still vain and mentally deranged enough to prefer looking like I’m dying and skinny than healthy and chubby. Yes, still this thinking in light of cancer. It’s hard to be a woman.
On the way out each day, I’m presented with a bowl of candy “for doing a good job,” and to seal the deal that I’m officially an infantilized cancer patient. Today, I snatched up a piece of Laffy Taffy. I’m sure that ingesting Pepto Bismol pink candy can’t be cancer-fighting, but oh well. On the wrapper, Matthew from Ohio shares: “What do cows do for fun? … They go to the Mooo-vies.”
Thank you for all the offers for rides!! Big thanks to Melody, who helped get my car out of storage at Auntie & Uncle’s. It’s so nice to have driving privileges back. I’m now driving myself to and from treatment. I’ll let folks know if at some point that no longer works, but I’m fine for now.