Sunday, 4 November 2012

Radiation Therapy

The radiation treatment I received was over about six weeks. It was a long and involved process, seems almost more complicated than chemo but it was more straightforward for me.

The process started with getting my leg (where the radiation site was) tattooed so they could align my leg for radiation each day. This process was pretty straightforward. Each day (five times a week) I would go to the hospital and lie on a bed for a few minutes and get my treatment. I had to lay in a "body mould" so I would not move and be in the same exact spot each time.

Radiation itself has its own set of side effects, but all in all I found it much more tolerable than chemotherapy. Some people get quite tired or have other problems, but as I had finished chemo and the area being radiated was on my leg and not near any internal organs it was not so bad. I didn't feel tired I believe because my body was feeling so much better and recovering from not having chemo any more.

The radiation treatment was very quick. It was done in three different angles for about forty seconds each time, getting aligned properly is the longest part. The radiation therapists got good quite quickly at aligning me properly.

The radiation burn started after about two weeks. It became quite painful, like a really bad sunburn, and given that it was just about on my hip, walking was pretty painful, so I tried not to as often as I could. However, I had to go back to work, so this was not always an option. They had creams for it, but I think it did more to prevent infection than pain.

I met with the doctor each week as well, just to make sure it wasn't getting infected, and it went by rather quickly. The most awkward part was given that it was on my leg, I had to "disrobe" for each treatment, I am a shy person, and this was one of my biggest hurdles, but the therapists were very respectful which really helped (I also had no other real option but to get used to it!). The other hard part was I saw a lot of kids getting treated through radiation therapy where I was at. I think this is one of the things that really drives me to do the fundraising I am doing for cancer research, I felt unfair and young at 26 to go through it, seeing parents watch their infant or child go through cancer is a whole new level of unfair.

After treatment it took about three-four weeks for the skin to heal. It was burnt quite badly, but it is healed now. There is a patch on my leg where hair will never grow and I have the tattoos to remind me of it, and my leg is still a bit stiff, but these are all "normal" side effects with it.

At the end of the day, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe I had just gotten used to feeling like garbage. But you learn what kind of person you are going through something like this.

You realize how strong you can be.

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