Radiotherapy was due to start on Monday at 8.40am however at 7.40 I received a phonecall to say there was a problem with one of the machines so could I come at 9.45 instead? I was fine with that but wished I’d known as it would have allowed me an extra hour in bed. So just under an hour later, we made our way to Genesis Care, which is a private hospital here in MK. Unlike many people in other locations, my journey to radiotherapy will take just 15 minutes each day.
Shortly after I arrived I was shown to the changing rooms to put on my stunning green gown. Then after a few minutes the radiographer came and took me to the treatment room where another radiographer was waiting for me. The bed was the same as the one they used for my CT scan but the equipment was much more substantial. On the ceiling there were 4 projectors, of which 3 were beaming bright red lights and one was projecting my personal details onto a screen. Over the bed there was a circular piece of equipment with screens either side.
After confirming my personal details I was asked to lie down on the bed with my arms stretched above my head. The radiographer talked me through the process and reassured me that none of the equipment would touch me although it would move around at various stages. There was a small monitor above my head with a little line that showed my breathing. I was asked to do a practice breath hold and could see whether I was doing it correctly by the position of the line. It turns out that a ‘correct’ breath hold is not at full lung capacity which actually makes it a bit more tricky.
Having explained everything the 2 ladies left the room and I was left with the equipment moving around me and making noises as it repositioned itself. I was told that they could see and hear me so I could let them know if there were any problems. The radiographer then instructed me when it was time to hold my breath and this was repeated around 5 times. Each time I started to wonder if I would ever be allowed to breathe again, but then her voice would announce, “Breathe away normally.” After around 5 minutes, the radiographer came back into the room and told me I was done. It was as simple as that. All in, the procedure took around 15 minutes.
From Tuesday to Friday, the same treatment was repeated and appeared to get done more quickly as there was no need for them to explain everything to me again. Radiotherapy, compared to chemotherapy, is very easy and pain free.
In terms of side effects, I started to feel very tired, in fact downright exhausted, right from the first day, however I wasn’t sure if this was due to me having to get up early every day. One thing was for sure, I needed a nap by the afternoon. I mentioned the tiredness to the radiographer and she confirmed that it was a result of the treatment. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer any skin soreness during week 1 but I was ready with a bottle of Aloe Vera gel in the fridge just in case.
So, 5 sessions down, 15 to go and 2 rest days before it all starts again. Let’s hope my skin continues to be good.