Saturday, 31 March 2012


End shot, the ladies at work.


The Dixon Centre has as homey feel. There are donated handmade quilts on the wall, paintings, pieces of sculpture. From the minute you hit main reception, the staff are welcoming and friendly.

Each weekday, Heather and I make our way to radiology, me hanging onto her arm for balance, or jauntily trying to walk a straight line all by myself. I register with the receptionist and then wait for my technician to call me to treatment room 6. Once I’m there, throwing off my wig or hat, taking out my earrings, putting my glasses aside, the techs come to see what jewelry I have on for day. Then I lay on the big table with my head in a plastic cradle and a cushion propped under my knees and they fasten on my mask. I'm blind in the mask & I wondered how it looked. The ladies gave us permission for Heather to take pictures. Here is two minutes of my everyday.

Trying to find the head cradle

Down it comes

Clamped in place with cartoon canary x markings. Ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.
The mask has been molded to my face. I cannot open my eyes or mouth when it’s clamped down. I can breathe though, and swallow. I know there are people who have to be sedated in those masks, but I suspect I have a reaction like famous autistic author, Temple Grandin with her hug machine. I relax instantly and get sleepy. And I trust those technicians. They’re careful and precise.  My anxiety level is at zero during treatment because I like them and they know exactly what they’re doing.

I had no idea about this neon marking! So far from my lay person concept of a big star-trek blast of my entire head!
I hear machine bits whirling, lights eventually go off, there are beeping noises. 90 seconds or so later, the techs come back and release the mask and I’m done for the day. I always wondered what it looked like and I didn't know that about this neon mapping part.

They lower the table & set me free to wobble off home.

PS...Although I write this blog to help sort out my thoughts and reactions...and for the joy of just writing, I write for you, too. Especially for anyone who is or has a family member or friend going through treatment. There are terrible cancers out there. Some of the treatments feel pretty brutal - but mine, right now, does not. Okay, so the monster mask is hardly a fashion statement but it's not awful, truly. I've always been skeptical of western medicine but I've  come to admire the special skills of my doctors, nurses and technicians. I find myself looking forward to seeing "my" ladies every day.
Eight treatments down, seven to go!


Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

That is fascinating! Thank you for sharing. Is the mask there to keep your head still, or does it have some other purpose? I'm glad that it is relaxing - I have that same odd reaction to teeth cleaning. I totally zone out.

Howpublic said...

Hi Cyn...It keeps my head absolutely motionless. Don't want the radiation going random. I think if the mask disturbed me, the thought that it's preventing mistakes would help me get right over that. It's VERY fitted. You swallow & breathe - and that's about it. It clamps to a base.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

I thought that was probably it, but it looks like it's made of something interesting - it looks almost like a fabric, but it's rigid? Is it like that cast fabric that they put on broken bones and it dries hard? Did they mold it to your face to make it? (Tell me to shut up if I'm asking too many questions!)

Howpublic said...

It starts as a flat white plastic grid. They soak it & it softens & then they mold it very closely to your face. That's the extent of my knowledge. When it dries, it's rigid and an exact fit.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Thanks, Linda!