Chapter 13 – Brachytherapy

My course of brachytherapy was with the most wonderful team.  I have been incredibly fortunate with the medical professionals I have had.  I mean they were not so wonderful they counteracted the indignity of having radioactive materials rammed into your vagina, but they made the whole experience much more tolerable than I was expecting.

Now – here is some pretty important information: The chairs in the cancer treatment centre are the comfiest chairs I have ever sat in.  Mother Dearest accompanied me to my first appointment.  I must have been the youngest person in the room by at least 30 years.  Patients were waiting to be seen for both radiotherapy and chemotherapy and were at various stages of recovery.  My heart broke as I looked out into a sea of both  terrified faces  and the faces of people who has accepted their fate. I have never felt more out of place. It was eerily quiet and then a ringtone broke the silence.  I recognised the song immediately.  It was “Stayin’ alive” by The Bee Gees.  This absolutely ended Mother Dearest and myself.  The rest of the crowd was divided.

The first thing I was so delighted to be wrong about was the strapping of my legs.  Due to the fact I have a vaginal cuff (so long, cervix) the applicator can only really be inserted in one position so my legs could be down.  I cannot tell you the anxiety this eased for me.  I mean I was still clamped to the table by my vagina, but it definitely had less of a sexual assault vibe to it.

I asked the radiographers what would it sound like, just so I could be prepared.  Clearly, it didn’t occur to me that they are never actually in the room with you so they have no idea.  So for all of you who now really want to know, the machine sounds like a cross between a VCR rewinding and a coffee machine. I mean you probably wouldn’t hook yourself up to either of those machines by your vagina either, but it is slightly comforting.  Also, you can definitely feel it.  They definitely lie about that.

Each of my courses was for an increased time and I would feel progressively worse after each of them.  I became sore and unbelievably tired.  The brachytherapy was so much harder to get over than the hysterectomy.

I lost control of my bladder entirely, I have never been so exhausted, I was swollen and uncomfortable for weeks afterwards.

 

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Am I glad I did it?

No.

Did I do this purely to make my mother happy?

Absolutely.

So in that sense was it worth it?

Certainly.

 

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