As me and Mum went into the radiotherapy room, I remember thinking ‘oh is this it?’ the machine looked quite simple and it was pretty much the only thing that was in the room. Although, it was a pretty big machine.
The radiotherapy nurses greeted us and asked if I could lie down on the table. They asked me to lie down flat on my back, looking at the ceiling. This sounds like an easy task, but for me it was difficult. I had spent the last few weeks lying constantly on my left side and as my left arm was already so painful from sitting upright for so long, all I wanted to do was lie on my side. The nurses tried their best to get me to roll onto my back but every time they managed to do so, I immediately turned back to my left side. The pain was unbearable and my arm was shaking so much when I wasn’t leaning on it.
It seemed like that this was going on for ages, I tried my best to stay on my back and eventually got there. The next hurdle however was to keep still. If I wasn’t lying on my left arm it would shake uncontrollably and this wasn’t keeping my head still. My head had to stay in the same position throughout the scan so that the radiotherapy laser would hit the right part. My head was already pinned down to the bed by a mask that I had to wear, which had been specifically moulded to be tight against my face in order to prevent any small movements. As my left arm was shaking, it made the rest of me shake too. My right foot was starting to stamp again and I could not stay still.
Eventually we had to admit defeat and it was decided that we would try again tomorrow. At this point I started to notice that my Mum was getting really upset, I wondered why thinking ‘It’s ok it’ll be better tomorrow’. Now however I know that at the time I had stage 3 cancer. I have been told since that if I had started my radiotherapy treatment a day after I eventually did, the cancer would have moved up to stage 4 and well I may not be here today if it had done so.
We left the radiotherapy room feeling quite downbeat. I felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to do something as simple as lying down still on a table for ten minutes. I could see that this had upset my Mum and I felt awful. We met my Grandma in the waiting room and made our way back up to the canteen to collect my Grandpa, I could tell they felt sorry that the day hadn’t gone as expected and they made sure that me and Mum were ok. It was a relief to get back to my Grandpa’s car I was finally able to lie down again after hours of not. We got home and I thought about what had happened all evening. I think this fired me up to try my best to beat what had happened today, tomorrow.
I don’t know how to start this post; the whole day was a bit of a blur to me. There are things I remember vividly and things I’m sure I can’t recall at all. This is the point in the story where there’s no longer a linear as such, there’s more of a spider diagram in my mind of the things that happened. So many things happened during the six weeks that I was given radiotherapy and there will be several posts about it all but for now I’m going to let you know what happened on day one.
On the morning that we left, I still had no idea what was going to be happening once we arrived at the hospital. All I knew was that I was booked in for 6 weeks of radiotherapy. Every week day was going to involve radiotherapy treatment and I would have the weekend to rest. I had been given the option to stay at the hospital for this time but I was too scared to do so, I didn’t want to be on my own without my Mum and well I wanted to be at home in my own bed, instead of in a strange hospital in a bed that wasn’t mine. We decided that me and Mum would make the 2-hour trip and back trip to the hospital every week day so that I could be at home. I’m so grateful that my Mum did this for me.
My Grandma and Grandpa accompanied me and Mum up to the Royal Marsden on our first trip and I remember getting into the back of my Grandpa’s car. Again, I had to lie down as my left arm still hurt so bad if I didn’t lie on it, and off we went.
We arrived and walked into the hospital, well I was wheeled in! My Grandpa’s first question was ‘Where can I get a good cup of tea?’ Typical of my Grandpa to ask that question, but I knew that he was perhaps feeling a bit frightened of what was happening to his favourite granddaughter (this is a joke we have as I’m the only granddaughter he has, so I tell him that it’s ok for me to make that assumption!) Bless him I knew he was much better off sitting down with a good cuppa and a newspaper rather than coming with us, so Mum showed him where the canteen was and the rest of us made it down to the radiotherapy part of the hospital.
I can still picture the long corridor to the reception of the radiotherapy unit. It sometimes felt like forever to get down there. When we eventually got to the waiting area, my Mum left me and my Grandma sitting there whilst she went and checked me in. As it was my first time it took her a lot longer than usual as there were forms to fill in and such. Whilst she was there my Grandma struck up a conversation with another lady who was waiting for her treatment, whilst I would have never said boo to a goose, my Grandma is someone who can talk for England (just like my Mum) and whilst she nattered away I started to feel really uncomfortable. As I was sitting in the wheelchair I obviously couldn’t lay down on my left side, therefore the pain in my left arm was really bad. I didn’t want to interrupt my Grandma’s conversation with the lady and Mum was still checking me in. The pain was getting worse and worse, I couldn’t bear it any longer and I just wanted to shout out, but I couldn’t do that so my right leg took control and I started stamping my foot on the foot rest of the wheelchair in frustration. Eventually I was making so much noise that my Mum noticed and rushed over, by this time tears were running down my cheeks and I was just thinking, ‘I can’t take any more of this pain’.
Mum knelt down beside me and told me it was all going to be ok, I felt a lot safer with her there knowing she would look after me and the stamping started to calm down (although I don’t think it stopped!) She helped me move myself so that I was leaning mostly on my left side to try and help the pain, although this really wasn’t a comfortable position and the pain was still coming. Then eventually we were called in to start the radiotherapy.
Me and Mum left my Grandma in the waiting area, again I think she was scared of seeing what was going to happen.