Today I officially end my final chemo cycle. Yay! I will take the last pill of my regimen this evening at 8 pm. After that I can empty out my bucket o’ meds and return the unused drugs to my friendly neighborhood pharmacy. Good riddance.
I also had my first consultation with the Radiation oncologist to begin preparing for the next phase of my treatment. I had done my research ahead of time so I was prepared more or less for what to expect from the radiation treatment. Before they begin treatment they use a CT machine to isolate the “radiation field”. The angles of the radiation beams will then be directed so they only hit the field and not the surrounding tissue…obviously this won’t be 100% but they make a considerable effort to focus the treatment. The technicians use 3 tattoos to mark my body so they can position me in the same orientation every day. So yes, my first tattoo is a constellation of 3 alignment dots scattered over my body…I suppose maybe that’s appropriate for an engineer. 🙂
I did have a few surprises though:
1. Apparently I have to do 25 doses rather than the 15 I was told earlier. Not a HUGE deal but the difference between 3 and 5 weeks. I will start next week and will be done at the end (rather than the middle) of September.
2. Since I am getting radiated on my left side this hospital uses a technique called “Active Breath Control” to move my chest wall as far away from my heart as possible when the radiation is active. Thanks for that. 🙂 Basically, they will only turn the radiation machine on when my lungs are full of air and I have to keep the air in my lungs until the dose is done…or hold my breath for 25 seconds or so. What this means for me practically is that my nose is clamped shut and I have to breath in and out through a snorkel so they can monitor the air flow. It’s a little awkward but also not a huge deal. I will just imagine some fish and look at it as excellent practice for the next time we go snorkeling.