Offensive Thinking

Brain tumors suck. Hi, I'm Patrick btw. This is my cancer blog. My "normal" stuff is over here.

Radiotherapy Part Three: 12 Sessions Down, 18 To Go

This is where I get the radiation treatment.
This is where I get the radiation treatment.

Ok, so after a dozen sessions, I can say that I’m still feeling fine and I don’t have any major side effects up to now (that includes no hair loss). Yay me! but let’s start from the beginning. You might ask yourself what my daily routine is, and I’m glad to explain. No, you’re not? Tough luck, I’ll explain anyways ;).

I’m still working almost full time, as I’m feeling well enough. The only reason I’m leaving a bit early at work is that my daily session is always around 5:15pm and I need to get to the clinic. Daily means workdays, no sessions on the weekend. Due to Germany still having a more or less working social health system, I can take a cab from work to the clinic and then from the clinic home, it is paid for by my insurance company.

I usually arrive a bit early, but experience shows that sometimes they can start my session earlier and I also want to account for any unforseen traffic so I do not run late. I then have to wait with almost exclusively elderly people getting treatment for all kinds of cancer. On the one hand, this makes me feel a bit alone, as there are no younger people around whom I might want to talk to. On the other hand, I’m always glad because other young(ish) patients would mean that there’s someone else with cancer at a young age, something I’d rather see not happen too often.

At some point I’m called into the room with the equipment. My apparatus is called “Synergy”, which as far as I know is just the name of this particular series of devices. Anyway, I lie down on the… hmm, what would you call it? Treatment table? Let’s go with that, it’s quite hard :). So, I lie down on the treatment table and they put the mask over my face and clamp it down to the mould that was created together with the mask (see my previous post) so I cannot move. Above me is a lovely artifical view of the sky with some trees, but through the mask I can barely see it. The staff (which is always very nice, I have to say) will then put the table into the correct position and leave for the session, which takes about a minute.

The electron gun will then start to make funny whirring noises while it drives around me, shooting X-ray beams into my head. I would prefer some nice “pew, pew” sounds, but when I asked, they said they couldn’t do that. Bummer. Getting serious again, I don’t feel anything during the session, so it doesn’t hurt or makes you feel funny in any way (at least not me). I’ve heard of patients getting sick right after radiation or having their epilepsy triggered, I’m grateful that this doesn’t happen to me (yet).

At least twice up to now, they also did a CT scan before the radiation begins to check if I’m still lying correctly. The CT scanner is directly built into the device and will only take about two minutes, then the radiation begins. When everything is done, I can leave and get my cab home.

That’s how the treatment was done for the first twelve sessions. As I already mentioned, right now, I’m feeling good and haven’t changed anything in my usual daily routine to accommodate for any unpleasant side effects. I still get up at 5am three times a week for my training sessions and then I go to work, like always. It sometimes feels as if there might be some minor nausea, but this could very well be just the thought that it might happen eventually that triggers this feeling, if you know what I mean. Any fatigue I feel seems to be the same I already have every day, so I don’t think the radiotherapy adds to it.

If everything stays like this, then I’m quite lucky. Let’s hope for the best and that the treatment will do something good and kill as many cancer cells as possible, while leaving as many healthy cells as possible intact. As this post already got lengthier than I originally thought, I’ll try to explain (at least some of) my treatment plan in my next post, as far as I can from my non-medical point of view.