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Day Four…First Proton Therapy Treatment

Proton Therapy is serious business; in comparison to the Conventional Radiation experience it seems quite formidable.

The Proton Radiation Room is huge, the equipment is state of the art…it looks like something from “2001-A Space Odyssey”. The table I sit on moves in and out of a large cyclotron that delivers a pin-pointed beam that starts some three floors away. There is music playing…whatever you want; there’s no music in conventional radiation, not even if you wanted it. I lie on a table, no one matches my tattoos, no one seems to even care that I have them. The mask that I was fitted for a couple of weeks ago is strapped to my face, a la Hannibal Lecter. It is tight, practically suctioned to my face. Small glitch though, somehow even though this mask was made for my face, something has changed, my nose bumps out where the mask bumps in…adjustments have to be made. No way would I be able to stand twenty minutes a day with this on my face, and have it boring into my bumpy nose. They fix it. It’s better, but some serious visualization has to happen here,…I’m thinking facial again. The mask prevents me from seeing anything, my eyes can’t open, my mouth can’t open…I am strapped. I am told through a speaker that the treatment will start. I’m asked if I’m okay?; funny though because I couldn’t speak even if I wanted to…I give a thumbs up, which they can see on one of the many cameras where they are seated…in the other room. In case of emergency, I have a button to push. I wonder as I’m strapped into my mask not able to be anything but still…”what would be emergency enough to push this button and grind this process to a halt?” There is a low sort of long beep sound. I lie here wondering, visualizing, I think about what I’m going to be doing later,…I think about this beam and what it is doing. The beam stops, someone says “Okay, that’s the end of the treatment for today, see you tomorrow”. I think to myself “this word treatment seems so weird “; before this process, treatments brought images of hot stones, massages and facials. Guess one person’s mud is another person’s radiation.

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