I’m talking about having 33 days of radiotherapy aimed straight at you. This is usually the last ditch attempt to eradicate the tumour that is causing you pain, stress & discomfort. They say that this mask and all the other millions that are moulded around an individual’s head, face & neck is the very symbol of their torture-they are not far wrong there!
This hand-moulded ‘thing’ is a novelty when they talk to you gently & caringly whilst moulding it delicately to your features, but this is the “Iron Maiden” of radiotherapy. You leave the table thinking “oh dear me, don’t fancy too much of this” but the moulding is nothing considering what is to come!
No, I am not trying to frighten you all to death, I am merely making you aware that some parts of our treatment are considerably worse than others. For me, this is the pinnacle of unhappiness for once this moulded plastic atrocity is screwed down to the table it really does take nerves of steel to simply lay there and not let the proceedings get to you.
I have had occasions where I‘ve simply counted the seconds between the different noises as the radio-active beams change direction/location, and there has been no problem. I’ve had occasions where I have sweat like the proverbial pig, feet and arms flailing for release from this unimaginable prison and I’ve had the odd occasion where nerves simply got the better of me and I simply could not entertain the mask. Funnily enough, on such occasions, the middle-aged lab technician used to simply talk to me quietly whilst gently running the back of her hand up and down my forearm until I was totally relaxed. Amazing how such a simple action can overcome the claustrophobic horrors of ‘the mask’.
Of course, all of this is not pain-free and you’ll find that the 33-day regime takes its toll on you. Apart from the fact that you will feel totally washed out on a daily basis, and certainly NOT circuit, there is a new danger to contend with. Burning!
The longer the radiotherapy continues the more affected your skin becomes. The last week (for me) was simply horrendous as my neck was smothered in super cool Aqueous cream and then smothered in thick, super soft gauze as I couldn’t even stand cool air blowing on it. Conversely, some people seem to breeze through the last bit without so much as a ‘by-your-leave’! I suppose your body just does what it wants to do all you need to do is to stay positive and count down the days until the “Radiohead” has blasted the tumour into a thousand molecules, all of whom will be ejected by the body!
However, although I sound all doom & gloom on this particular subject, it is not all doom & gloom as once that nasty cancer has been obliterated you have the rest of your cancer-free life to look forward to – and you would be amazed at just how quickly your body recovers from this highly traumatic experience.
Remember the simple rule good people: One day at a time, one step at a time!