Radiotherapy: Half Way Through

Two weeks in, I have reached half time in my radiotherapy. I almost expected someone to run in with a tray of quaretered oranges to deliver a pep talk. But no such luck.

I have to say, oddly enough, that I am rather enjoying it. I make a daily trip on a bus that takes less than an hour to a lovely hospital where I lie down on a comfortable bed while supportive, good-humoured and non-judgemental staff give me a totally painless, non-invasive, ten-minute treatment. And despite cautions from others who have been treated elsewhere, I don’t even have to sit around waiting. They pretty much treat me as soon as I get there. 

There is a series of rooms, each with a  Linear Accelerator (Linac) machine (pictured), and in Bart’s they are named after planets. At the beginning of htis week, I was in Saturn; for the last couple of days I have been in Venus, which has filled my head with a Banarama song. You may be relieved to know that there is not a Uranus, not even for colorectal cancer patients. 

I’m not sure I’ll keep enjoying it until the end of the four weeks though, as the side effects are beginning to kick in. As my breast slowly cooks, the sore, hot, red area is getting more intense and spreading more widely. And I am getting more tired.

Tip 1: Do not wait for the soreness to start before looking after your skin. Drink lots of water. Be like Lady Cassandra and Moisturise! But don’t moisturise before your day’s radiotherapy, as it confuses the Linac machine and interferes with the treatment. Your hospital can give you moisturiser. And while I am sceptical about many suggested vegetable remedies, the radiotherapists recommend cabbage leaves and aloe vera, as there is some science behind that.

Tip 2: Make an outing of your daily journey. You may have to travel some distance, and may be in and out of the hospital in 20 minutes, so heading straight home may feel a little dispiriting. In my first week, I went to a local history archive and library (researching the life of Minnie Lansbury) after my daily treatments. In the second, I have met a friend for coffee and have sought out hidden gems in the City of London, where Bart’s hospital is located. I thoroughly recommend St Paul’s crypt cafe, the Museum of London, and the wonderful Postman’s Park with its memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice.

Oh, and last Monday was #onedaywithoutus, a day to mark the contribution of migrants. Alongside native Brits, they have been contributing to stopping my cancer coming back.

Time for a weekend off before it all starts again on Monday. Toodle pip!


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