For those of you who don't know during radiotherapy the usual process is: you lay down on a 'bed', with a mask moulded to the shape of your face, this is fitted onto your face and is bolted down to the bed, so you can't move your head. This is done to keep you still and to reduce the damage the radiation does to your healthy cells.Then, they line you up accordingly and fire the radiation at you and after a short while, that's you all done.
However, my tumour moves as I breathe, therefore, I have a different type of radiotherapy that is usually used with patients who have lung cancer. This type of radiotherapy involves ABC (Assisted Breathing Control) which involves me laying on that same sort of 'bed' however, there is no mask involved and instead I have to put in a mouthpiece (much like the mouth part of a snorkel) and a peg over my nose. I then put my arms up above my head and hold onto a bar, this bar is like the bar you get on a kids scooter, when I'm told to I squeeze a trigger on one of the handles on the bar, then when it's time I have to take a deep breath. When I take this deep breath there is a cut off point, this point shows that I have taken a big enough breath and I have to hold that breath for 20 seconds. This ABC machine stops me from breathing and after the 20 seconds is up (the radiologists/radiographers count you down from 20-0) I breathe normally until my breathing drops back down to its normal rate and then am asked to take another deep breath and repeat this process.
At the moment, for these first three sessions I have to repeat the process about 8-9 times, this is more than it usually would be because during my first 3 sessions I have to have scans before they start the actual radiation, however, after this I will probably only have to repeat the process about 6 times. When I am holding that deep breath, the machine moves around me in a circular motion, that is when the radiation machine is active and is firing me with these higher intensity X-Rays, as soon as I breathe normally the machine stops where it is and so the radiation also stops. The machine begins to move again and the radiation is fired again once I take another deep breath.
Today, when I was laying there holding my breath I was facing towards the ceiling and I could see my reflection, all I saw was me laying down, straight legs and hands raised above my head and I just thought "Hah, that's funny... I'm laying down in the position having life saving treatment, and I will be standing up in the same position one day holding a title belt above my head, not these handle bars." - then I began to stare at this reflection, visualising a world title belt in my hands and then reflecting back on this moment when I have achieved my dreams. It may sound really silly, but I think things like this are signs, so although I am laying in this position now when I am ill, I will be standing in this position when I have fully recovered, when I am at my strongest and fittest having achieved my main ambition. I thought that was pretty amazing. It encouraged me and made me really believe in myself.
|Example of the position I lay in for radiotherapy|
So, that's two sessions done. Fifteen left to go. One more session tomorrow and that is it for this week, then back to it on Monday for the full five days. I aim to write about each radiotherapy experience I have, even if they are similar because I think this could be beneficial for other people in my situation. I would also like to say, that anybody who is going to have radiotherapy, make sure that you tell your doctor that you want the least damage done to your healthy tissues as possible. I know that may sound stupid as doctors aim to get the best possible results with the lowest amount of damage, however, I explained my long term ambitions with my consultant as well as my concern for the damage the treatment may do to my lungs and heart and as a result, they have taken extra time and gone to extra effort in order to maximise the potential damage and have chosen the ABC breathing control treatment instead of the regular type because it was better for me as an individual (this does not mean that this type of radiotherapy would be ideal for you).
Thanks for reading,
Keep up to date with my blog for my next instalment on my journey with radiotherapy!
Tyler White - A.R.D. Training Camp Fighter