I was all prepared for this week’s travel to Boston for my second Thoracic Radiation treatment. Because I was so tired last week I cancelled all my other appointments. I was imposing a sort of self-hibernation when I wasn’t on my way to or back from Boston. I wanted to save all my energy for my treatments. Despite all my mood swings I felt positive about my treatments. I have great faith in my doctors. With every treatment that I have had, going back 20 years, a part of my lungs have been removed and I have about the equivalent of one lung. I really don’t have much of a choice right now. This makes me so angry. Except for my first cancer I have not had any “warning” signs that my cancer was back again. I have not felt ill or had pain or was coughing outrageously.
With every twenty minute zapping of the Thoracic Radiation treatment the times seemed to race by faster and faster. It was amazing that I was lying on a table having beams of pure energy shot through my body and I couldn’t feel a thing. It was easy for me to just faze out and think about all things dealing with the death of my cancer cells or traveling to other realms.
Not once did I think about this not working. With each cancer, after the initial panic and regaining my normal heartbeat. I never once felt that I would die, until this cancer. And that was before I knew what the plan would be. I had worried about it of course but not once had I resigned myself to it. With this cancer I had. But of course these treatments are last ditch efforts to let me live longer until the next one.
My son had given me a scarf for my birthday that I had asked for and I finally had a chance to wear it for my last treatment. The weather had finally cooled enough for me to wrap myself up in it after I had changed. I couldn’t believe that after only five treatments I would be free to heal and concentrate on other things, like writing this blog and living my life. After the technician came in to tell me that I was finished it didn’t take me long to reach the bell and ring it!! I got applause from some of the other patients, knowing that I was finished, at least for this time.
I felt a release of bodily tension draining away at the end of my Thoracic Radiation Treatment. And i felt tense too. Was this all? Did it work? Wait a minute- I want to go back for one more. Just in case! But as I walked out of the hospital with Dave and got on our train I knew that I really didn’t want to go back for one more. I was so lucky to have had this incredible machine do it’s job and the technicians and doctors arrange and set up everything for me. All I needed now was time to heal and live until my next one.
I was very curious about what happened to my cancer after my Thoracic Radiation treatment was finished. My radiologist, Dr. Henning Willers, Director of Thoracic Radiation Oncology Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA explained,
“The goal is to have the last tumor cell killed on the last day of radiation. In that regard, radiation does not really work anymore after all the treatments have been delivered. However we have no test to directly measure tumor kill. We can only use a CT to see the delayed indirect effect of radiation where a dead tumor slowly shrinks over time as the dead tissue is being absorbed by the body. Tumor cells at the end of radiation may not know yet that their DNA has been lethally damaged. So, actual cell death may indeed be somewhat delayed. And then there also exists the possibility that the immune system eradicates any surviving tumor cells with DNA damage that may try to regrow.”
If this is the best that it gets, then so be it.