Thursday, August 09, 2007

My 3-D Breast to be

Met my radiotherapist this morning for the first time and had a long chat about the next stage, six weeks of daily appointments of radiotherapy, from Monday to Friday, to start four weeks after my last chemo.

I was originally scheduled to see her in early September, which felt far too close to actually kicking off with the appointments. If I'm going to have a fixed daily session being zapped, it would be kind of inconvenient to not know what time the appointment will be happening. I have STUFF appearing in my diary for September already and it's not that things cannot be changed, it just seems silly not to fix my appointment time now, and then I can ensure that everything else slots in around it.

Anyway, we talked about the treatment and the timing. I asked for a mid-morning or a mid-afternoon appointment, preferably the former. That way, I have more than half a day clear to fix meetings in, and can do the cycling to the hospital from the office plan - my hopeful recipe to get fit. Which will be more than necessary as my escapade falling down the stairs had meant I won't be doing anything more strenuous than hobbling from the kitchen to the sofa over the next five weeks...

Radiotherapy is (apparently, if I remember this right from our chat this morning) using waves of radiation in a localised area to attack and kill cells. Chemo effectively does the same thing, but around your whole body. Radiotherapy is designed to focus on the area you had the tumour (i.e. my right boob) and sweep up any remaining nasties. It kills normal healthy dna as well as any cancer cells, but the normal healthy dna can repair itself. It takes six hours for the healthy cells to repair themselves, hence the need to have appointments at 24 hr intervals. The dosages have been tested over the years, as well as the best 'spread', or fractioning of the dose, over time. And currently, the medical world believes that, for breast cancer, five weeks of doses on the whole boob, followed by one week of booster doses on the immediate surgery area, is the optimum combination.

So my life will be anchored in my daily zapping from Sep 10th until 26th October. 30 treatments in all. It feels well over time to move on to the next stage (so fed up with chemo now - I keep fantasising about skipping next week and moving straight to rads) but then the commitment to such a regime of treatmemt does feel rather daunting. Not because of a fear of side-effects (they should be much easier to handle than chemo side-effects) but because of the sheer volume of visits to the hospital. It will be very, very dull.

Slightly more excitingly, my boobs will be tattooed with tiny, freckle sized dots, so that the operators can line me up to the lasers. One dot in the centre of my cleavage, and one either side. The radiotherapist described the size of the mark as being 'like a dot on top of an i'. Which would have made perfect sense but for some reason I misunderstood and thought she meant a human 'eye' rather than the letter 'i'. Which left me momentarily imagining I would be tattooed with Masonic symbols.

But the most exciting part of this nasty zapping is that next week, I'll be repeatedly scanned on a CT unit so that they can re-create a 3D model of my breast on computer. How many people get their boob modelled in 3D for them? I hope they let me have a couple of print outs. They'd make great alternative pictures for the living room wall...

Here's an example I found earlier. This breast looks particularly pert. I wonder how mine will fare...

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