Wednesday, July 10, 2013

SBRT Simulation

The day had finally arrived - setup for my SBRT radiation.  (The actual radiation is scheduled from July 25th to August 1st.)  First,  I met with the doctor, who allowed me to ask any questions, and then I signed the forms agreeing to the procedure.  Then a nurse came in and started an IV.  I gowned up, and she took me to yet another CT scanner.

I'll bet I'm in the 20ish range for CTs now.  But who's counting?

I'd been sick a week ago and was unable to get out of bed from Saturday to Wednesday, so I had lost some weight - I was down to 94 pounds.   When they took my weight  I was pleased to see that I had gained a pound back, but not so pleased at this particular CT scanner.  It was the first one I'd ever seen that wasn't padded.  Ordered to lie down, my skinny arse and bones had to lie on bare wood.

Not for long.  Soon, I was swarmed by radiation techs who seemingly came out of nowhere.  They were shoving pillows full of foam beads all around me.  I had to position myself on my back, hands holding these handles above my head while they push and pulled and smooshed the bean bags against me.   They were packing me tight, tugging my clothes and underwear down, pulling my gown open, and taking my shoes off, pushing, pulling and patting until I was finally in the right position.   Then they put this weight on my stomach which is to remind me not to take any deep breaths - shallow breaths from the top of my chest only.   Then they put me in the CT machine and did a scan.  They gave me contrast, and in and out I went, painful frozen shoulder growing numb, trying so hard not to take a deep breath that I almost passed out.

I realized I have gotten in the habit of taking a very deep breath every few minutes - probably due to chronic anemia, and only then did I realize what a powerful habit it was.  So now I have to learn to breathe all over again.

After the scanning, they had me in the position they wanted that would enable them to best go after my tumor, and so they sucked the air out of the beanbags so it would hold the position, exactly like those space bags you get at Bed, Bath and Beyond.   They took photos of me, my arms and my hands so they could recreate it.  Then they put tattoos on me to mark whatever it is they are marking.  These are not interesting tattoos at all, and really, if they are going to stick a needle into ink and jam it into your body, you should at least be allowed to have a little star or something.  But no, you don't get designs, they don't use a tattoo gun, they just dip a needle in ink and slip it under your skin.  The marks are tiny and black and they just look like blackheads, and I'm sure I'll be trying to scrub them off each time I see one..

My appointment for the 25th will either by a dry run or real radiation, depending on how they feel things go.  In attendance at this party will be me, all of the techs I just met, as well as a Physicist, a Dosimetrist, my doctor, nurses, etc.  So it is quite the team designed to keep me safe (and not one you want to stand up).

I feel better about doing this.

Cancer?  Prepare to die.

The doctor and nurse have both told me that my main symptom will be fatigue.  My only question to that is:  how will I be able to tell?


  1. I was just worrying about you last night! Fingers, toes, eyes crossed for you sister. Legs are crossed too, but that's mostly because I have to pee.

  2. Ann thanks for the update, by the way you rock! Lois

  3. Will be thinking of you. This sounds very similar to the protocol they used for my rads for my breast, right down to the fiducials, but they were all in my breast. I had to have a CT scan every day for my rads and I had the bean bag thingy and I also have a bad shoulder.

    This post brought back a lot of memories (not so distant as I finished my rads at end of April) for me. I had a one week, dose dense targeted rads protocol (clinical trial instead of the 33 trmts, went with the one week, 2 x a day) and was done quickly, but it really kicked my ass in terms of the exhaustion. I am not sure how you will know since you are tired already, but for me, I am still feeling it and it has been over two months.

    I had close to 9 milligrays a day (normal protocol is less than 2) and so the ass kicking was not unexpected. I hope you fare well sweetie. You so deserve to feel better. Rads are powerful and will KILL that cancer. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.


    1. Thanks. I'm concerned about the fatigue I'm going to feel too. The doctor said there was no doubt that I would have it, especially since I have a very sensitive liver, lol. I can't imagine what the fatigue will be like, considering I'm already super tired. I just hope I can get out and do stuff. My son will come back from New York on August 9th and I hope I can pick him up at the airport!

      I hope you are recovering and doing well.

  4. Hang in there, Ann. We are all thinking of you and hope that this is your "magic pill". I really enjoy reading your blog. You are an interesting, articulate woman. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Glad to read your update, Ann, and best of luck on the 25th!

  6. Hang in there, Ann. I was still dealing with fatigue from chemo and radiation last year when I had to have radiation on my spine. So sorry to say, but you can get more fatigue when you are already fatigued. But, you will do fine, just keep thinking about that HS graduation this will help you get to. In my prayers.

  7. Ann, I'm glad to read your update. I hope this treatment will help get you to that HS graduation with no fatigue.

  8. Ann,
    Best of luck to you with the SBRT! You can tell that I'm not in the "cancer club", because I have no idea of what those letters stand for! And about your cat, Pixel: bless each day that you have him/her. I'm serious. I had to put my baby girl (not even 2 years old yet!) cat to sleep last night, and the grief is indescribable. Money means nothing when it comes to the life of a pet. I hope thay Pixel recovers, and please, give a BIG kiss for me! I would give anything to have Lily back.

  9. Positive energy, Ann! So sorry you have to go through this, but glad you are able to muster the energy and fortitude to do what you must to see your wonderful son graduate---as I'm confident you will.

    Positive energy!

    Johna Till Johnson

  10. Sending you best wishes from Minnesota. You are a fantastic role model for all of us, as you continue to push forward with grace and humor.

  11. Thanks for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to all women fighting the same disease. I admire your courage, strength and humor amidst these trying times. Sending you healing thoughts and prayers that you will be able to go through this process successfully.


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