This week began my journey into radiation. In 2012, I had 16 rounds of chemotherapy (Carboplatin and Taxol) to “cure” the first round of Ovarian Cancer, but I am at it again. Four weeks ago I had surgery to remove a recurrence of Ovarian Cancer in a Periaortic lymph node (let me Google that for you-Periaortic ) My doctor feels like the radiation is important because of this lymph node’s proximity to major vascular networks and would make for tricky future surgery if any cells remained. Following this, I’ll jump back into some more chemo (my old friend). The radiation part of this is the new aspect. Here are ten things I didn’t know before I started. (As I progress, I’ll give you “the rest of the story”)
1. Radiation uses high doses of radiation energy to kill rapidly dividing cells (cancer cells)! My dosage is 180 Centigrays per day. Total radiation dosage will be 4500 Centrigrays. (Rads are out-Centigrays are in) I feel like I am becoming a super hero ala Spider Man with each beam of energy from the linear accelerator! Just so you know, it doesn’t hurt while they do it!
2. Every area radiated has its own list of side effects I assumed radiation was radiation….not so. Preparation is also different for different areas. One of the most important lessons I have already learned is that radiation is different for different people! You may have an easy or tough time of it. Listen to other people’s experiences, but you are unique!!
3. Every radiation patient is unique! You get your own “simulation” prior to the initial radiation, so that doctors make a plan unique to you. You will receive individual tattoos-yes, permanent-that will mark where the machine will be aligned. I received 3 and each is the size of a Sharpie point). As you begin radiation, preparation and dosage will vary.
4. There is never ever parking in the “reserved” radiation spots…ever.
5. You should let the folks know if you have any side effects …they need to know! Evidently, there is an expectation of when side effects might occur, so if it happens too early…they should be informed.
6. The actual time of being zapped is only a couple of minutes. It takes a lot longer to get changed, get situated in the machine, align the marks and get set. My machine makes two compete arcs around my body.
7. This one is just for someone that asked me…Chemotherapy (for me) was infused through an IV over a period of several hours. Chemotherapy is systemic and Radiation is targeted.
8. You can still exercise while you get radiation, and chemotherapy too. Exercise is one of the great gifts to healing our bodies. Come on, if I can exercise, surely you can do it too! For me, prayer is the other gift!
9. Same thing for handicapped parking….don’t count on it.
10. Water, water, water. This, along with trying to eat healthy, are also critical during treatment. Plus, my sources inform me that Diet Coke does not count as water. Drink it up!
Photo below is the linear accelerator!