X Marks the Spot

With chemo now behind me, I’m moving onto the next phase of “to be super duper sure we got it all” treatments which is radiation.  It will be a pain free procedure where a beam of radiation will cover a portion of my chest and the beam will send the sound free energy into my skin for about 12 minutes each day, Monday-Friday for 5 to 6 weeks.

Yesterday I had my preliminary appointment and the technician used the “1001 uses” Sharpie black marker to make X’s all over my chest and side to get me perfectly lined up with the machine.  The black X’s were then covered with a thin clear sticker and it is now my job to make sure these stickers and marks do not get washed off in the shower before next weeks appointment.  I can shower regularly, but just no scrub-a-dub-dubbing on the areas.

Once all of my marks were measured, photographed and noted in my chart I was then rolled into the CAT Scan machine.   The scan was quick and no big deal, but I do want to share this funny insight.  As I stayed motionless on the table and the machine began to slowly start its process, I was instantly taken to that scene in Contact when Jodi Foster is about to travel through time and space in that contraption.  The CAT Scan machine began to whir louder and louder and the spinning ring moved faster and faster and I chuckled to myself; I hope I don’t travel into another dimension because just like the movie, they’ll never believe me!

Next week will be my second “dry run” appointment and are you ready for this… I will be getting my first tattoo!  They will remove my black Sharpie X’s and make a perfect little permanent tattoo; a blue-black dot about the size of a freckle on 3 different areas on my chest which will line up with the radiation machine.  The tattoos are important for the next 6 weeks worth of procedures as well as important markers in case I ever needed more radiation in 20 or 40 years.  It’s not what I envisioned for my first tattoo, but it will have a story none the less!

So, having radiation beamed into my body is just one more thing I’d rather not partake in, but it is effective.  The side effects will be nothing like chemo but I can expect some fatigue, which I’ve been living with for the last 12 weeks anyway so that is nothing new, and I’ll probably be sporting a very, very tan/slightly burned 8″ x 8″ square on my chest for months.   I’ve been instructed to keep that area out of the sun for next year because it’s basically 300 days worth of tanning squeezed into 6 weeks!  I’ll be mindful this summer, but next year… yea, that’s unlikely!

I won’t be radioactive, unlike some patients actually are for other cancer treatments and they cannot be near babies and pregnant women, but since I will not be, you can spare me from the Radioactive song by The Firm.  Lastly, the daily sessions will begin early May and this will mean the drive from Sonoma to Rohnert Park will get old very quick, but I’ll probably buzz down to the library this week and find a good book on CD to keep me entertained.  Maybe I’ll look for Contact.

{A CT Machine}


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