After getting a holiday from my chemo treatment on Tuesday, there was no time to relax. Wednesday I was back at the cancer center’s Radiation Oncology Department for my “CT Sim,” or CT simulation. Basically it was the first step in my radiation treatment, where staff calculated my position on the treatment table and made all the notes and observations necessary to ensure I’ll be in the same position for each of my projected 30+ treatments.
The first step required my lying down on the table with my butt firmly against a horizontal stop. Then they adjusted a donut-shaped placeholder under my head. After that, with the aid of lasers, they assured my midline, from head to toe, was directly aligned on the table’s midline. Then I extended my arms above my head and positioned them on special armrests. Several times I was nudged a bit one way or another. Assorted markers were stuck on my chest, and the table was moved into and out of a cylindrical device that did some kind of scanning. Marks were made on my chest and the last step was my tattooing — permanent marks that can be read by the machines to make sure I’m correctly positioned. Each mark was a single needle prick: one on my ribs under each arm, one marking the center line between my breasts, and one above my left breast. (Several people have already suggested I later have the tats embellished in some way, as flowers or something. Tats have never been my thing, but I guess they are now, like it or not. So, embellishments? Who knows … )
Now the radiation oncologist will study it all and determine how she wants to proceed. I’m to get a call sometime “within the next 7 working days” to schedule another simulation, a final check of sorts, with my radiation treatments to begin the next day. Right now I’m not sure exactly what the schedule will be since I have a PET scan next Wednesday. The additional information from that will help her decide whether to try to radiate the nodes in my chest, behind my breastbone/ribs.
Then this morning I went back for an echocardiogram to assess my heart function and see whether or not the chemo has damaged my heart. My growing concern that a lot of my symptoms (edema, cough, shortness of breath, weakness, etc.) could be signs of heart failure proved unfounded. Everything looked fine. My ejection fraction was 70.1%, an actual improvement over the first echo prior to chemo (62.7% in June), although the difference could just be a normal variation between operators.
All in all, it was a long week. But right now the only doctor appointment on my calendar for two whole weeks is the PET scan next Wednesday. And the only order from my doctor is to rest and recuperate. Can do!