Friday, 2 October 2015

FINISHING RADIOTHERAPY... but what's next?

I finished my 11th and final session of radiotherapy on the 29th September, and it felt amazing. Compared to chemo it was a walk in the park, despite the fact I encountered a few side effects; a sore patch on my back similar to sunburn, a sore chest, pain when breathing deeply and indigestion/heartburn. I was treated mainly at the Nottingham Radiotherapy Centre at City Hospital, although for 1 week I was moved to the main hospital building while machines were updated.

For the treatment I was clipped into the bed, which was plastic and very narrow, using this mask.
The mask was made using thermoplastic, which becomes bendy and malleable after being put in warm water. This was then placed over my face and shoulders, before being cooled with ice packs for 10 minutes, and I can definitely say it was cold alright!
As the mask clips into the bed, it means that you can't move at all, which is its sole purpose.
The grey clips ensure the mask, and therefore you, are placed in the same position on the bed each time. The white sticker with the cross was the reference point for where the laser needed to cross to ensure precision placement of the machine, and therefore the x-ray. The machine was able to spin 360 degrees around me, meaning that the areas could be treated from the front and back.
Because of where some of the tumours were, above my collarbone, I had a headrest placed behind my head that had a wedge underneath my neck to tilt my head backwards. It wasn't the most comfortable of positions, but for 10 minutes each day I could put up with it. I also had to wear a navy blue gown as it had velcro on the shoulders so they could be rolled down to fit the mask, and I'm wearing it in the pictures below. (You don't have to tell me by the way, I know it is the height of fashion?!)

Now it is a case of waiting until my next PET scan, which I have been told will be in around 2 months. This is because the treatment continues to work for some time, which is why the side effects don't subside immediately. After this point, assuming I'm clear (fingers crossed) I will then have to have another short operation to have my port-a-cath removed. Then that's it! Well pretty much - I will have to return to QMC/City on a regular basis for the next 5 years but for tests to check that I'm still in remission, but this seems like a small price to pay for the rest of my life :)

1 comment:

  1. Fingers crossed, as you say Tash, and then you start to pick up your life again. I'm sure your goals, ambitions and determination will be as strong as ever. You have the knowledge that you have faces a huge challenge, and kept your strength intact, your vision remaining in sight, with a new perspective; not one you would have chosen, but which has made you stronger. And more patient. To coin an old fashioned phrase, wiser. You have climbed a mountain on life's journey. It was foggy and cold up there, but the valley looks sweet and sunny.