Treatments are almost done.

The treatments are nearly done and I need a new mask

This morning I received a package from Sunnybrook hospital. It was a large envelope containing a CD with some very interesting material. It’s neither good nor bad, but I’m 99.99% sure that most of you have never seen anything like it before.

I use the word “most” because some of you, in your professional careers, might have seen something like it before but if I say anything more than that I’m afraid I’ll give too much away. I’m dying to share what’s on it with you, but to do so now would be out of place in the timeline. Hence, the continuation of this blog that I nearly stopped writing.

And so the story continues…

We left off at the point of treatment where the side effects of radiation and chemo were having some serious effects on me, but at this point in my journey I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m more than half way through my treatments.

At my first radiation therapy session the mask that was used to clamp me to the treatment bed was so snug, I wasn’t sure if I could even open my eyelids. Then here, with only two and a half weeks left to go out of seven weeks of treatments, I could wriggle my head inside the mask. The loss of snugness happened so gradually that I didn’t notice.

It got so bad that the technicians had to use shims to hold the mask securely, and when even the shims couldn’t hold it firmly any longer, they arranged to do another emergency preplanning session to get a new mask made.

I was happy to have a little more breathing room so I wasn’t thrilled at having to endure a tight mask again. The significance of why I had to get a new mask constructed was completely lost on me.

During the pre-planning session the technicians are required to do a CT scan. When they compared this second preplanning scan against the original preplanning scan, they noticed something that was quite fantastic. The tumour had SHRUNK significantly!

That is why the mask was loose. The tumour, and hence the swelling in and around my collarbone and my neck, had reduced. I had no idea that I was so “puffy” in that region. The mask didn’t stretch, I had shrunk!

That bit of positive news came just when I needed it most — it came when I was hurting the most and it was getting very difficult emotionally and physically. If I could have skipped all the way home to Barrie I would have! Reinvigorated, I renewed my fight just one week before my birthday.


Next time: the third and last chemo session.

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