That’s what my friend Lisa said when I told her that I had to get all glow-y at my radiation treatment the other day: “Every day is glow day.”
Yup, every day for the next six weeks (except for weekends), I get a little glow at my ultra-personalized tanning salon, a.k.a.: the radiation oncology department at the hospital where I had my surgery.
Radiation is painless.Â You lay there on a narrow bed while this machine aims radiation at your body at what seems to be a pretty oblique angle.Â I think this is so the treatment affects the places where the cancer was and not the areas you don’t want treated, like the lungs and heart.
The technicians know where to direct the beams because they used a CAT scan machine to figure out exactly where to aim the radiation.Â Then they tattoo you and take pictures, and I think they create some sort of template so that they can replicate the treatment each day.Â Some days they put a rubber mat over the treatment site.Â It looks and feels like a dish mat to me, so that’s what I call it.Â Its purpose is to somehow make it so the radiation comes more to the surface of the skin.
It’s very quick.Â My whole daily appointment is only 15 minutes.
During the treatment, I try to go somewhere else with my mind, or I do some sort of imagery or meditation to let my body know that these strong beams are healing beams, beams that will scorch the earth, making it impossible for cancer cells to live, thrive or to take up residence on or anywhere near where my tumor was.
The first day of radiation I went to a breast cancer awareness event at the same hospital where my treatment is.Â (Here is the article from the Pasadena Star-News.) After donning enormous pink t-shirts, we all linked arms and waved at honking cars that drove by.Â I stood there, wondering how I got there, how any of us got there.
But the really strange moment was after the event, when we took a group picture of the attendees.
Someone called for the survivors to come to the front for the picture.Â I scooched my way to the front and was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion.Â I looked around at all the survivors, the women of all ages and ethnicities, and I felt a wave of great hope and humility wash over me at the same time.
Then, I went into the hospital cafeteria to grab lunch before my appointment.Â When I was seated, I saw two women looking for a place to sit.Â I gestured to them to come share my big table, which had plenty of room.
Turns out that Susie and Ellie, the women who joined me, were 8-year survivors.Â Both had had cancers and treatments similar to mine.Â It was so great to talk with women who are doing great, feeling great, feeling hopeful and who have been cured.
These wonderful women offered to escort me to my first radiation treatment.Â They introduced me to everyone there, and I felt like a celebrity by the time they left.Â The treatment was easy-peasy, and after counting the number of treatments I’ll have, I realized that I’ll be done with my cancer treatments by Thanksgiving.
Every day really is a glow day.