“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ~Marie Curie

Meet my friend, TrueBeam; we are dating, everyday for 6 weeks. This is the device they use to radiate tumors, and I have to admit that the engineer in me thinks it is cool. The cancer in me is not as enthralled, at least I hope not.

The poor schmuck patient lies on the table (black and red thing), and the table moves into the center-ish of the device. Those two “wings” fold in and the entire machine (that you see) turns around the table (takes maybe 20 seconds). The round part is where the beam comes out.

The technicians are in another room at monitors. The first spin of the machine apparently gives the techs a view of my viscera and they can see exactly where the beam will land. If it is good, the next spin radiates me.


This is the table, I lie face down. They do cover it with a sheet (where was this table when I needed it?) A small wedge/pillow is put on the red end and my “belly” goes over the large opening. The goal is to move my small intestine out of the way, so it would hang somewhat in that opening. Trouble is, I don’t have much of a belly. The two concave carve-outs are for my thighs, and yes, the cup is for the family jewels. Which, when done with all this radiation, will be more costume jewelry than anything else.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a different machine that they use for positioning. I moved around, they played with the machine, and then I got three tattoos. They are small blue dots, one near my tailbone, and one on each hip. When I get on this table, the machine projects a green crosshair and, guided by the tattoos, I am physically positioned the same way. Every time.

The other internal organ they like moved out of the way is my bladder. I need to show up with a full bladder each time, somehow that moves it out of the way. We want the machine to have a clear shot at the tumor.

Today did not go as planned. I get there on time with a full bladder. My turn comes up, I go in, get up on the table in my knees, drop my trousers and lay down bare-assed (they do their best for modesty, but if they want to see an old guy’s butt, ‘go for it’). They line up the dots and crosshairs and I try to lie still. That full bladder is not the most comfortable. The machine does one spin and then … nothing. A few minutes they come in and want to adjust my position, which they do by pulling the sheet under me, I am not supposed to help at all. Then one more spin. Nope, they come in and something about the angle of my hips. Another spin and a long wait. My guess is that they paged someone more experienced because they finally did some tilt of the table and we got a good scan. The last two days it was honestly a three minute procedure (table time), today was forty minutes. With a full bladder. It was not fun.

Remember I have Effyou, my pump, attached with its catheter, etc. Just getting off the table and picking up my pants (with attached fanny pack) takes longer than a proper scan.

There was a question as to if I was having a reaction to the bandage covering the port so I was sent to the chemo clinic. They changed the dressing and I need to go to them tomorrow before radiation.

Here is the new dressing.

I am thinking of starting a new line of costume jewelry … what do you think?

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5 thoughts on ““Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ~Marie Curie

  1. Along with your new line (pun intended?) of costume port jewelry, you should have a special PICC line for those who need something to show off their arm just so. (And your new friend True Beam really is cool. I hope your other friends in Radiation Oncology appreciate him, too.)

  2. “The trouble is I don’t have much of a belly.” Such troubles… If only I could give you some of my extra.

  3. I so appreciate your blogging style – and even though you are going through HELL you seem to be keeping your sense of humour intact…. While I cannot be with you I feel as if I am a part of your journey just by knowing what you are going through.

    Hang in there. xoxo

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