I thought I had prepared myself emotionally no matter what the news might be.
Yet, when Dr. Greskovich walked into the examination room at the Clinic and told me the CT scan showed I'm cancer free, I cried for the first time in weeks.
Those tears were a blessing; It showed that I’m capable of an emotion other than gloom. I’m pretty good at fear, too. Anxiety over the possibilities of cancer’s swift return stalks me like a pack of ravenous hyenas.
I went to the Clinic was to prepare for my next big adventure: 15 sessions of whole brain radiation. Small-cell lung cancer is quite comfortable nesting inside people’s brains, which means the doctors need to give all your gray matter a dose of moon beams just for kicks.
The preparation included the creation of a terrifying looking mask that will anchor my head to the table. Being rolled in and out of MRI machines the last few months has largely cured me of my claustrophobia, but I’ve heard stories of people who needed to be sedated each time they had to wear the radiation mask.
It’s made of a mesh-like, plastic material. The techs warmed it up and then molded it tightly to my face. The mask and (and your head) is then essentially bolted to the table. When that happens, it takes a few seconds to realize that you can actually breathe as the mask painfully presses against your face.
Strapped down, the techs asked me how I was doing. “I’m fine,” I told them.
After what I’ve been through, they can't hurt me anymore.
Dr. Greskovich later talked about the side effects of whole brain radiation, which I’d already researched. According to the pamphlet a nurse gave me, one of the primary side effects, fatigue may persist for months if not years.
For a man who can barely rise out of his recliner, that is not something you want to read. And a bonus side effect is hair loss, which is mostly a moot point since chemo took care of that. A bit of fuzz had started to appear, but it will be gone soon.
Strangely, this new radiation routine might be a good thing. Perhaps it will lift me out of my funk. I’m doing something again, even if it’s slightly unpleasant.
Let’s consider it a challenge. Get up in the morning and drive down the hill to endure some more shit. Better than sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself, I guess.