I have been off any form of chemo for over a year and I have a CT scan about every five months to make sure nothing resurfaces. One small tumor resurfaced but did not change size, but then it went from 6 mm to 8 mm. At that point, my doctor said if it continued to grow, he would ask Radiation to blast it with precision bombing.
The last CT scan showed it had indeed grown from 8 mm to 12 mm (less than 1/2″). He told me they could take care of it with three to five session. He then sent me to visit with the head of the radiation department on the same day.
In all of my dealings with my cancer, there was never any urgency in appointment or actions. So I was somewhat surprised to see a second doctor on the same day and further surprised when they took me into another CT scan machine to put marks on my torso for alignment for the radiation machine. I asked if I was having a session that day and told that it would be in about ten days. One doctor told me it would be “easy peasy”.
I have experienced quite a bit in the last eleven years of having cancer; multiple surgical procedures, fistulas, skin grafts, lymph node probes. I have had more latex gloves in my mouth than I would every care for. The chemo infusions with those side effects, losing fifty pounds and losing my sense of taste for three months. So to hear “easy peasy” was something to look forward to.
I had some anxiety as I prepared myself for my first session, but was remembering the doctors words. A radiation tech came out to visit with me and go over a list of things for radiation therapy patients to consider. Things like a phone number to call if I got sick, that I would see a Resident Physician or Physician Assistant once a week. When she was going over that I was thinking “getting sick”, “once a week” wasn’t sounding like “easy peasy” to me and I became a little fearful.
I have always been a optimistic – realist. I look for the positive, but recognize the reality of situations. I have always relied on my faith in God’s plan for me and I needed to regain that focus on Him and not on me or the tech’s.
She lead me to an area of the building that I had never been in before, “Radiation Therapy”. It was well furnished and modern and clean. Nothing like a fallout shelter. Just the name “radiation therapy” sounded ominous to me and made me think of things like “glowing” and geiger counters.
My appointment time came and one of the young techs came over to me and said the machine just broke down and they had called an engineer to fix it. Oh great! A broken machine! Didn’t they know I was already nervous? She told me it was their newest and most advanced machine. I asked if they had others and yes, they had three others, but my doctor wanted me to be on this machine. Ok, I’ll wait!
I have had maybe twenty CT scans and one MRI, so I knew with a MRI you had to remove billfold, phones, etc. before going into the room. With radiation I wasn’t certain, so I asked the young lady about those type of things. She asked if I would like to go into the room and see what it was like and I said yes.
As she was leading me into the room, I felt like a first grader going into a new school classroom for the first time. She showed me where I would put my things and showed me the body form that was made for me to be in the same position each time. I then, went back to my bench and waited for an hour. The engineer was not sure if it would be another hour or the rest of the day, so they sent me home. I would start the next day.
My appointment time came and I saw family members of patients that I had seen on the previous day. We visited and asked about one another. It’s interesting to me to see how others are going through the same process. I say the same, but we are all different. We meet at the same place and use the same machines, but some had to be there many more times than I did. Some are young women. Some are old men. Some walk in, others are taken in on a wheelchair or a transporter. But we had something in common and there seemed to be an atmosphere, for many, of hope. I almost teared up when a young woman rang the bell, signifying that she had completed her treatments.
They called my name and I walked into the specially protected room to the little table to lay my phone and shirt and glasses. Then to the table that I would lay on with my arms above my head for about a half hour. They left the room and communicated with me via intercom. Some times the machine would go around me and some times the table would move left and right and at one point, made a 90 degree turn. They asked me to hold my breath and the treatment began.
It was quiet with just a slight hum. Not like the noise of a CT scan or the banging of an MRI, just a hum. Then it was over. They came in and helped me off the table. I dressed and went home. The nervousness was over. I had made it through what I had to for the day. The beginning of the destruction of the tumor had just started.
I came back the next day for session 2. I walked into the room just like I was walking into a hotel room I had stayed in before.
The procedure was the same. Everything done the same way. The machine was hitting my tumor from six different positions. As I lay on the table, holding my breath, I was thinking about not feeling the radiation work but knowing it was at work. Isn’t that the way the Lord works in us? The Holy Spirit quietly working in our heart. Sometimes tearing down what is bad for us. Sometimes building and supporting the good things in us, but He is working in us never the less.
In the room alone with a machine designed to destroy cancer. A machine that I was afraid of. The Lord spoke to my heart to remind me that I was going to be ok. He was with me. He is always with me. It was almost as if He was say, it was “easy peasy” for Him.