Monday 26th August 2019
Today I began my Radiotherapy treatment on the cancerous lump in my neck. I found it in early July and since then I have been poked and prodded MRI, Ultrasound and CT scanned along with having a biopsy extracted from it. All to find out what it was and whether it had spread – luckily it hasn’t but over the weeks it has grown in size.
I have been through all the emotions you can get – shock, fear, anger as well as the why me feeling. I have shed a few tears as well along the way although I’m trying not to – being very British with the stiff upper lip thing is just not me.
A couple of weeks ago I had a mask made for my head and shoulders – to make sure I am in exactly the same place for each treatment and unable to move during it. I have to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. As one of the nurses said ‘Nobody would volunteer to have one made unless it was really necessary’.
So today is the first of my daily sessions for the next six weeks – only week days though – I’m looking forward to the weekends already.
It was much as I suspected – scary and horrible. We had a chat beforehand about the likely side effects – sore throat and skin irritation being the first. To help I have been given a supply of mouth wash some moisturising cream and a big box of paracetamol. Later I may find it difficult to swallow and lose my appetite. They don’t want me to lose much weight though as this could affect the fit of the mask.
I did have a bit of a panic attack when they first fitted the mask – luckily Nigel was there and they took it off until I calmed down. Second time it was better – still scary feeling restrained – everyone left – I was all alone, and that was scary too. They told me they would be watching me on CCTV and if I needed out to raise my hand.
In my head I started to talk to my mum – I’m sure she was there holding my hand – it reassured me. I was grateful when I again felt Nigel’s hand and for today it was all over.
Tuesday 27th August 2019
Not feeling as bad as I did yesterday but still not feeling good about it. My neck aches all the time but the paracetamol takes the edge off.
I now have a new routine – mouth wash and moisturising cream four times a day.
Slimmimg world was good – I got presented my ‘Women of the Year’ sash & certificate and also lost 4.5lb- I’m now a pound less than when I had the mask made which I’m sure won’t make any difference to the fit. I mustn’t lose too much more though.
I thought it would have been easier today but having the mask fitted is still scary – and they managed to pinch my skin (on my shoulder) as they fitted it – they had to take it off and reposition me a bit. The setting up after I was secured didn’t take as long but the treatment itself felt longer than yesterday but that might have been my imagination.
I did find out why I can’t use a hair drier (mentioned in one of the many leaflets) – the nurse said it’s because the heat can make the skin irritation worse. She also said I might lose a bit of my hair at the back of my neck – I thought that only happened with chemo.
Wednesday 28th August 2019
I had a bad night – my neck and head hurt and I couldn’t find a comfortable position – I got up at 4.30 and took more paracetamol which helped.
I’m feeling a little more anxious than yesterday – what if I’m going through all this and it doesn’t work? It didn’t help that I had a bad dream which was very vivid – I was pushing Nigel away – thinking he would be better off if he didn’t have me to look after. Scary.
It was still a bit daunting having the mask placed over me – it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Nigel took a photo of me on the bed before the treatment began.
They did a few adjustments and did a scan before they zapped me from a different angle – there were a few bright flashing lights I could see even with my eyes closed. My vision was really blurred afterwards and I felt a bit dizzy but Nigel was there to help me back to the changing room and my wheelchair.
Redressed and on our way home – we were only there for 45 minutes so not long really – it just feels that way.
Thursday 29th August 2019
It’s a later session today – plenty of time for a refreshing shower and a leisurely breakfast and lunch.
Not feeling so good – a bit lethargic and emotional – I seem to be feeling scared all the time and my neck aches nearly all the time now. Nigel is so good – he keeps hugging me and telling me it will be fine (my brick).
It was a busy day at the hospital – cars running around the car park trying to find a space – we were lucky – one pulled out in front of us.
I had to have a blood test (as a base line the nurse said) – I’m assuming I will be having these done regularly throughout my six weeks treatment.
After I was zapped (about the same as yesterday) they didn’t bring Nigel back but one of the nurses helped me back to the changing room.
Then we had a catch-up chat with Carol (one of the Head & Neck Clinical Nurse Specialists) – I did ask if my face would swell up. She said it would which explains why the mask hurts my nose and chin – adding that I should mention it to the team as they can tweak it a bit. Apart from that she said that everyone says I’m doing well.
Friday 30th August 2019
Another not good night but the paracetamol are still working but need them every four hours or so.
I’m feeling tired but it’s the last session of the week so I just needed to get it done.
We got there a bit early so we could change some times on the days when I have to see the doctor as well as get zapped. Originally there would have been over three hours wait between them. Luckily there was no issue getting them adjusted – now the longest time between them is 10 minutes – result.
I was a bit emotional today at treatment time – I tried to tell them that the mask is hurting me too much and they did take a small bit of plastic away but it was lying on the hard plastic headrest that also hurts the back of my head.
Again they didn’t bring Nigel back after my treatment and this time I had to walk back to the changing room on my own – I felt dizzy and had to hold the wall – something must be said on Monday.