Cancer Blog - Episode 25 : Radiotherapy Gaga

By the time you’re reading this, I will be almost finished my week of breast cancer radiotherapy. I have another 28 day bout coming up later for the cervix cancer, but let’s ignore that for now and focus on the positives. When you only have 5 sessions, one day after the other, it’s pretty easy to achieve some massive percentage jumps for relatively little effort. Breast radiotherapy takes about 20 minutes, so by the end of day four I’ve basically laid on a couch for an hour and a half and completed 80% of my treatment. These are the kind of figures I can work with. I have my appointments list stuck on the fridge door and frankly, I’m stomping through it!

But of course, this is me, so the whole shenanigan hasn’t been without incident, but I know you’d be disappointed if it had.

Radio Interference

My first round was due to start on Thursday of last week, and I turned up raring to go. Unfortunately, the hospital wasn't quite so raring and had moved my appointments to the following week. Even more unfortunately, they hadn’t told me. They had been trying, bless them, but they had been trying a mobile phone number that I hadn’t used since 2018. I suspected something was up when an ex colleague of mine rang to tell me that the lady who took over my job 3 years ago had received 10 missed calls on her work mobile phone from the Royal Sussex Hospital. She knew my current medical situation, put 2 and 2 together and came up with me.

Turns out the Radiotherapy dept had been looking at a GP record from 2016, and finally got my correct number from my oncologist. I got the phone message asking me to call them as I was standing in the Radiotherapy reception trying to unbaffle a very confused Receptionist at the appointment I clearly had on paper but didn’t have on her screen.

Anyways, the Head of Radiotherapy Operations was summoned (and no, I did not demand to see her, nor did I move into any of my assertive gears, or give anyone even a hint of one of my icy glares, thank you for asking) and she explained the issues. My two Oncos, for Titania and Faniella, (see episode 24 for full cast list) had been chatting, and wanted a bit of time to have a re-look at my radio programme in order to minimise my ‘overall toxicity’. I was flattered to find out that had already heard so much about me, but it seems they meant the overall toxicity levels of my radiotherapyradioactiveness, nothing to do with my personality, or penchant for straight-talking. So, long story long, the breast radio plan has been reduced a bit to only cover the high risk area when Fucktard the tumour was, not the whole shebang. Which is fine with me. I mean who wants a whole glowing boob when you can get away with just half a one?

Radio Rita

So I toddle off, and return again on Monday ready for action. Lovely Receptionist, let’s call her Radio Rita, now knows my name and greets me like a member of the family. She hands me a gown in a wrapper and tells me to go and sit down and wait to be called. Then she looks over to me and says ‘Hilary, have you got any socks on?’ To be honest I’m baffed, but the lady next to me turns round and replies that yes she has, thanks. What the hecking heck? I just know this isn’t going to be straightforward.

Rita laughs and says “no not you Hilary, the other Hilary.” Oh lord, she means me. But I’m wearing Birkenstocks (it’s too hot for DMs and Birkos are the only valid 2nd choice) and who on earth would wear socks with sandals, and actually, what the fuck has it got to do with Rita anyway?

Hilary B

But Rita’s away now, she’s off on the 2 Hilarys bus and she’s not getting off. She’s decided to call us Hilary B and Hilary G, and she’s amending the records so we don’t get sent to the wrong places. She’s in her absolute element. She’s now decided that Hilary B and Hilary G sound like popstars and suggest that “you two should team up”. Hilary B and I look at each other, and in that moment, despite both wearing surgical masks, we share a “what the actual fuck?” moment that binds us together in a deep understanding of not only our current situation, but of life, in all of its many and varied forms. Hilary B knows. We crinkle our eyes at each other and make a small laughing sound to reward Rita, then silently resolve never to communicate again.

But I’m thinking, maybe Rita has a point. Not about the pop star thing, I’m pretty sure that ship never even got built let alone sailed, but about the mixing up thing. Radiotherapy involves a lot of precise measurements of organs and limbs to locate the very exact location that the nuking laser is going to hit you. The idea is to nuke the cancer area and not nuke any vital organs or other important bits. And I’m sitting here looking at Hilary B, who is about half the size of me, and knowing that whatever bit of her is about to get nuked, I’m pretty sure I don’t want her laser pointed at me. And I’m definitely sure that the corresponding measurements for me, when applied to her, will miss her body entirely and will end up nuking the wall, or some very expensive bit of kit which isn’t my left boob. So Hilary G it is.

The Socks Of Shame