Friday, March 9, 2012

On My Marks, Get Set....CT Planning Scan For Radiotherapy Treatment

Yesterday morning I arrived with hubby to the St. Luke's Radiation Oncology Centre in St. James's Hospital for my CT Planning Scan. This is an amazing state-of-the-art complex. For starters, the very long walk down the winding bare, white corridor served as my "power walk" for the day. I felt I was entering a germ-free zone, like some kind of sci-fi space station, indeed not a single bug could possibly escape your eye on those Dulux Brilliant White walls!

After checking in at reception I was then seen by one of the radiation nurses who entered my medical history on her trusty computer, examined my scars to check the healing process and declared all is well! Back out to hubby while I waited for the documentation to take to my Radiation Oncologist for Consenting. Again, I enjoyed the bright, airy surroundings and the nice tranquil feeling that seemed to pervade the place, no loud voices, just patients and staff going about their business in a quiet manner. Minutes later the nurse hands me the envelope containing the notes my RO needs and tells me I need to go to his office to sign the Consent Form. Off we head on yet another marathon walk. As hubby doesn't need the exercise, I'm the one benefiting most!

The lovely girl at the desk in the Oncology Suite who now recognises me from my previous visits takes my envelope into the RO. Less than five minutes later I'm sitting in front of him discussing my radiotherapy plan. Instead of the thirty three lots of radiation over six and a half weeks he is now going to give me twenty rounds over four weeks. I initially thought this is great until he explained it will be the same amount of radiation but given at a slightly higher level over a shorter time period. This probably means I will be somewhat more exhausted and a bit sorer but I will have a longer recovery time until our family wedding in June. He then again explains the side effects and how my heart and lungs will have minimal exposure. I sign the Consent Form putting all my faith in these great people that I won't be burned to a cinder! Terrifying visions of the radiologist forgetting to click the "off" switch looms before my eyes! I think it's going to be just fine.

Back at the space station hubby and I are taken up to the first floor to await my CT scan. First of all, a nice young lady from the department takes us into a Counselling/Interview Room where she explains what will happen during this scan, including the use of three needle pricks, which I will describe presently. She also gives me advice on how to take care of the areas to be treated before and after treatment. Afterwards, I'm given time to have a pee and a drink of water then when I'm called in by another radiology person I leave hubby sitting reading his book while I head in to become a marked woman!

As I can't remember the positions these two women hold within the radiation department I shall just refer to them as Lady 1 and Lady 2. After I climb aboard the narrow table the two ladies make me comfortable by placing a sort of leather bolster cushion under my knees and helping me to settle into a nice snug position.
While lying flat out I then have to place my arms over my head and clasp my fingers around a bar. This was the part I was worried about as I wasn't sure whether my right arm had sufficient mobility after the lymph node biopsies but I need not have worried as my daily rigorous exercise routine since my op has paid dividends!

Next, Lady 1 busies herself measuring me on both sides with a little ruler and calling out the resulting figures to Lady 2 who then feels around my collar bone and upper chest, placing little pieces of tape here and there as she goes. One of them, can't remember which, then places some wires, again on my upper chest, also possibly over my boob, which she tapes over.

I'm not sure in which order the following happened but I think it was like this: Lady 2 used a felt pen to mark my upper body with three permanent dots (one on my centre chest the other two on either side of my rib cage) then left the room whileI was moved into the scanner for around five minutes. Afterwards she then used a needle to prick each dot to allow the dye move under my skin. The middle one was definitely the most painful because as she later explained it was over a bone. Any ideas I might have harboured about having a tatoo have now most firmly been put to rest!

So, with my first radiotherapy appointment for 22nd March in hand, I bade farewell to the two lovely ladies and headed back out to hubby. Off home for a cup of brew and a very unhealthy fry-up!

Above image via



  1. I admire the way you are able to write about your experiences. I hope you won't be too sore or exhausted with the process. Onwards and upwards.

  2. Thanks so much fsmum for your lovely comment. I just hope I can give a little insight into the various stages of treatment to anyone at the start of their own process. So far so good, thank God, I'm halfway through the rads now with no burning, only very tired with the least exertion, I think it's also due to the medication. Thanks again, warm regards.