No, not on Starbucks. Today was the SIM appointment. After falling asleep in a stifling hot waiting room and then going for lunch, I was ready to be seen. The good news is that BI's down one machine but only because it's being upgraded with a new, higher-tech machine. Everything was painless, just more of a nuisance. You lie down on a table with lots of computerized machinery on top of and around you. A mold is created of your head and neck. You rest your head on a warm, chemical filled like pillow, turn your head to the opposite side being treated, and then it sinks into the pillow which hardens into the mold. This is one way to ensure that you will be set up the same exact way every time you go for radiation. So, head's turned and now arm is lifted above head and stays put, along w/ your entire body, for at least one hour. By above 45 minutes I got a little twitchy but no big deal. The worst part was the fly buzzing around the room which I obsessed about thinking it would land on me and I wouldn't be able to shoo it away. Well, it knew better and left me alone.
In the meantime, the radiation therapist wraps around and tapes a wire to le boob. Lines are drawn all over w/a Sharpie, measurements are taken and she's running back and forth capturing each line and measurement, varied positions of machinery on a screen in the next room. This simulation, or dry run, is looked at by the radiologist, Dr. Chada, for a minute and radiation physicists. Last step, I got the tatts which mark the treatment ports. With what feels like a pin prick, 3 tiny permanent markings the size of a freckle are made. These marks are another way to assist the therapist in aiming the radiation at the same spot each time.
Next, while marked up and wired, I walked my mold --which looks like a blue boogie board-- over to the other BI building on Union Sq. East. It didn't matter that I didn't know where I was going. Someone spots you with a blue boogie board, they know where to direct you. I caught up on the tabloids in a room w/folks with varying types of cancers. Let's just say, I felt lucky to be me. Eventually I was met by Terry who walked me upstairs for my CAT scan.
I change into my new uniform--a mint green and white pin stripe seersucker robe. People are walking around downstairs in those as if at home or in a spa. Women in a robe and pants, men in a robe and no pants. Kind of depressing but that's where the tabloids come in handy!
If you've never had a CAT scan, it's painless and not claustrophobic or noisy like an MRI. The difference b/w that and a regular x-ray is that a CAT scan is a 3-D x-ray vs 2-D. You can see the heart, lungs, everything going on inside as opposed to say, a flat front view. We now had to match my position on the table to that of the one during the SIM. I have the mold underneath head/neck, rt arm above head and left arm exactly where it was before (tucked under my tush). I'm moved back into a giant (unfortunately unglazed) donut which captures all of the data. Some stuff inside it is spinning around the donut like your laundry on spin cycle. After about 15 minutes I'm finished. I pull off the wires and tape and remove the roadmap with rubbing alcohol.
The films will be reviewed by the radiologist. She, along with a dosimetrist and the physicist, decide how much radiation I get and on what schedule. If I remember correctly, the first 5 wks target the whole general area and the last week and half zoom in to exactly where the cancer was. On December 6th I'll return. We'll make sure the machinery is positioned exactly where it should be as seen in the x-rays, take more films, etc. The following Monday, December 9th, will be the first radiation treatment. I'll go five days a week at 4:30 for six weeks.
THIS IS NOT ME
By the way, that wired orb up on top is not at all what I looked like. It was just for effects. I've taken the liberty of stealing, let's say borrowing, another woman's, more accurate image of her simulation which you can be seen to the left. I apparently am not the only one who's ever written a boob blog. Go figure.
Thank you, woman whose SIM image I've used. I hope you are doing well and don't mind that I've helped educate others w/the use of your image.
Last, I'm happy to report that thus far I've had no side effects whatsoever from the Tamoxiphen (Leslie calls me Foxy Tamoxy). I feel great actually. No sugar is suiting me well. I get weekly vitamin c (and some other stuff) IVs which take about two hours each, am popping all sorts of supplements, and not forgetting for a moment, that I may've dodged the bullet, but I've got to do all I can to try and make sure this doesn't all happen again. I hope you do the same and take good care of yourselves.
I'll have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Love and health to all!