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External beam radiation is quite the experience

Posted Dec 11 2010 9:58pm

I’ve just finished my first week of external beam radiation.  It’s my choice of treatment for prostate cancer. At the risk of getting too technical, I’ll describe the procedure in simple terms.

Before the treatments began, gold seeds were placed in my prostate to help the radiation process.  It was a bit uncomfortable, but not painful.  It felt similar to the prostate biopsies I had received.  The next session involved placing tattoo marks on the skin, again to help zap the cancerous portions of the prostate.

After that,  daily radiation zaps. Absolutely painless. When you first see the room with state-of-the-art equipment, you can either be scared or fascinated.  Personally, I was  fascinated with the radiation technology. After all, I write a health blog.  In the treatment room, you rest on the table and notice machines starting to rotate around you.  It can be noisy, as you hear buzzers going off. If you’re lucky, they will pipe in some soothing music.

The sessions are daily for several weeks. You get the week-ends off.  My doctor mentioned some possible urinary and rectal side effects. Fatigue is possible near the end of the treatments.

On the plus side, you get to meet a lot of great doctors, technicians and assistants. By the end of your eight (or so) weeks, you’ll be able to get to know (and joke with) the medical staff.

Oh, you do have to change into a hospital robe prior to each treatment session. You may be issued a locker. In this way, it’s kind of like the military: You have to do what you have to do.

All in all, I made it through the first week in fine fashion.  I’ll give you an update at the end of my treatment, which should be early February.


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