Finally, the wait is over – I have started my radiotherapy signalling the start of what should be the last chapter of my prostate cancer. On the day for my first round of 20 radiotherapy treatments. I didn’t feel particularly nervous or anxious. I needed a 5.20 alarm call as my appointment was just after 8.00 by which time, I needed a full bladder and empty bowel which I achieved!
The moment arrived and I went into the room where a machine nicknamed Brunel was waiting for me. The nurses positioned me very precisely on the bed and then retreated as Brunel literally sprang in to action.
Brunel cost £2.3million and is a Varian TrueBeam machine which treats up to 40 patients a day across a variety of tumour types, including breast, lung, head, neck, prostate, gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers.
It can deliver all forms of advanced external-beam radiation to kill cancer including image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) and volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT).
I know this all sounds a bit technical, but I think it’s helpful to know. My particular treatment is IMRT. The imaging enables the radiographer to target tumours with sub-millimetre precision. This is why the alignment with my tattoos and gold seeds is so important as it cuts down the side effects on the surrounding organs.
The three Truebeam machines at The Royal Marsden. My machine is Brunel and it will derail my cancer!
The result of cutbacks! (not really)
When I awoke after three doses that week, I felt very slow but after an hour of activity felt much more with it. I rolled up to The Royal Marsden and my final treatment for the week was done and dusted inside 30 minutes. Then back to Paddington to catch the train home, or so I thought. My train was cancelled, and I had an evening commitment. For the first time in the week I felt frazzled. Three and a half hours later I was where I needed to be and felt much better.
Saturday morning arrived and I felt perfectly normal. A two-mile dog walk and a set of tennis did not tire me. It is early days, however, with a fifth of my treatment is complete.
This is an extract from an article in The Times written by Mike Atherton about the England World Cup semi-final which made me think…
‘Today’s semi-final against Australia represents a once in a lifetime opportunity. It will be a full cycle, 20 years or thereabouts, before the World Cup returns here, by which time every England player will have retired. The Times will have a new cricket correspondent and some readers of this newspaper, sad to say will no longer be around ‘
I was enough to go to the final and witness this incredible game, extraordinary finish and England’s victory. It left me with an outer glow to match my inner radiotherapy glow. Believe me, I have every intention of being there in 20 years’ time!
And in other news
The Friday before my treatment Lynda and I had a fabulous time with some dear friends on their boat cruising down the Dorset coast. A perfect day.
Week 2 of my treatment and I’ll describe what it’s like to have radiotherapy.