the silent voice of the wizard whispers in my ear as I’m lying on my back, naked from the waist up, arms over my head, unable to move with a metal plate on my diaphragm. I’m trying desperately to not hyperventilate. There are cameras above me and I know someone is watching. The name Varian is imprinted on the space age machine hovering over me and I close my eyes and wait for ‘it’ to happen.
Goodness, this sounds like a nightmare or a science fiction novel yet to be written. Instead, it’s my experience while getting SBRT to a cancerous nodule threatening to wake up in my lung.
Other than having a metal plate locked into place on my diaphragm to ‘normalize’ my breathing this hasn’t been as bad as it sounds. Why the metal plate? I was told I was a very good Yogic breather – deep inhalations followed by long exhales. One would think this was a good thing but in this case, not a plus.
The staff is great. My doc is great. The medical physicist I’m told is great but I haven’t met him/her yet so I’ll take their word for it. The techs positioning me on the table are superbly considerate, professional and friendly, clearly explaining what they are doing and what will be happening. It took a week after getting 4D scans to come up with this treatment plan. A tremendous amount of thought went in to mapping out the trajectory and how to give just the right amount of radiation to just the right areas while doing everything possible to avoid important things like nerves and bones and arteries. So far, this treatment has been pain free and side effect free, everything that I was told it would be.
Jim and I will return on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week for the final three SBRT treatments. When will I know if this has worked? Possibly not for six months. My next scan in two-three months will more than likely show an uptake in SUV activity because of inflammation caused by the radiation so the following scan will be a better indicator.
When I look back on the past two and a half years, I think I’ve done pretty well in confronting my fear, seeing it’s face and acknowledging what can be gained and/or lost. But, every time a new treatment arises, I must once again go back to the well and find more faith, more hope, and more strength. With help I find it, I always find it, but DAMN this is a crazy ride.
While not very original this was a moment for me… I got my very first tattoos! I asked for something exotic with color, flowers and feathers but I was only allowed four tiny black dots for reference. Permanent reminders of a hopeful future. Too bad my insurance doesn’t cover body art. These tiny black dots are the beginnings of a new chapter and I think the completed picture will be quite lovely.
The awesome Kirsten and Ally with ‘Varian’ in the back