By the Beard of Zeus

I don’t believe in God. I never have. Religion is a wonderful thing when it provides hope to people who need it, but it can also be a veil behind which hypocrisy, hate and evil can hide, misinterpreted, either accidentally or deliberately, for peoples own selfish gains.

At school, and indeed at home, because my mother was an Ancient History teacher, I learnt about a different type of God(s). Namely, the Gods of the ancient world. Now, in light of the previous paragraph, I’m not so foolish to think that people many moons ago didn’t do some fucked up shit in the name of Thor and Anubis. I mean, sacrificing virgins to curry favour with some imaginary, all powerful homies is the epitome of insanity.

Anyways, today I started my chemoradiation block.

Chemo

In terms of the chemo, it’s pretty easy. I take 3 tablets of Capecitabine (Xeloda) morning and night. Capecitabine is a pretty fucking smart drug. When it is first consumed, it’s pretty much inert. It is then processed by my liver and travels directly to the tumour itself, where it is then converted to Flourouracil (or 5FU), which you may remember is the shit they pump me full of when I bring Optimus home in my crocheted bag. Here is the kicker, the tumour itself actually converts the drug to 5FU. It basically converts it into a drug that will end up killing it. It’s like suicide for tumours.

The mechanism of Capecitabine/5FU on the tumour is two-fold. Firstly, it prevents the cancer cells from reproducing (which is what they do best) by starving them of the nutrients they need to do so, and also destroys their DNA and ability to replicate themselves, causing cell death. The cells that don’t die, are substantially weakened, and that’s where Zeus come into the equation.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy, or RT in the buziness, is exactly what the name entails. A huge, kicks machine creates radiation, which is then directed through specifically created beams, to the the area for treatment.

The machine that does all this magic is called a linear accelerator, and it’s huge. Think about the size of a prime mover and you’re in the ball park, although it looks more like something out of a Transformers movie.

It’s a difficult thing to describe. It has a huge body and then protruding from it is the central arm which has a large disc on the top of it. That’s the part that houses the ray gun. on either side are two arms which operate an x-ray which can take scans during the treatment in real time, to make sure that the beam is going where it’s supposed to.

Anyways, the name of my linear accelerator is ‘Zeus’. I couldn’t think of a better, more apt name to give such a beast of a machine, and although my mum won’t be able to express her excitement due to her medical condition, I know that on the inside she’ll be just as chuffed as I am 🙂

Actually having RT is a piece of piss, almost literally (I can say that after having a whole single treatment LOL). Because I am having radiation administered to my pelvis, I have to have a full bladder. Today, eager to impress on my first day, decided to go all out, to the extent that when the time came to jump on the thin plank-like gurney, it almost came all out.

Fortunately, my RT’s were an awesome bunch of young fellows who were kind enough to let me keep my undies on (although pulled down to above the schlong – but covered with a sheet for my modesty and their safety) and didn’t try and touch my dick. Maybe tomorrow it will be a female therapist and I’ll get lucky, you never know.

Anyways, they put you on a gurney and whack my legs into a custom made cast so that I’m always in the same position, push and pull me to make sure the laser beams line up with the tattoos they gave me previously (see below) and then tell me they’ll see me in a little while. They then run to a bunker, and I’m not making that up. It’s literally called the bunker.

At the planning stage of the process, they placed 3 pinhead sized tattoos on me that they use as reference points for each treatment. Now you won’t see any of the techs on ‘Tattoo Nightmares’, but you’re sure as shit not going to see them on ‘Ink Master’ either. They’re fucking tiny, and a total disappointment. The only cool thing about them is that I hope to have them converted into a ‘connect the dots’ style tattoo when this whole sorry saga is behind me. Maybe i’ll get some sweet constellation, or perhaps the face of Zeus, that would totally be fitting.

Back to the radiation itself. It’s completely painless other than the feeling of my bladder stretching to the point that it resembles the Hoover Dam (that’s a big ass fucking dam in the USA if you didn’t know – it’s even been in movies and shit). The x-ray arms extend first and take some scans. It kind of looks like Zeus is reaching out to try and hug you, only to take photo’s of you with your pants down like a dirty perv. They then retract like I’ve got cancer and it’s contagious and Zeus himself gets to work. The head starts on my lefty side, below my hip and the buzzing noise of a thousand robotic bees tell me that I’m being irradiated. That continues for about 30 seconds or so and then the head moves around a short distance, before stopping and delivering another dose of gamma goodness. It continues to revolve around me until it reaches the equivalent of it’s starting position on the other side, and then we’re done. The warning light goes off, I see people come in and I’m allowed to pull my pants up like a sullied maiden.

Seems pretty easy, right. It is. I just have to repeat it another 24 times and I’m done.

In terms of side effects, it can cause nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue, hairloss and skin sensitivity to the irradiated part of the body (saves me waxing the crack), painful pissing like I’ve got the clap, and the general feeling that my insides have been microwaved, which they have. Apparently, they’re cumulative, which, for all my simpleton friends, means they get worse the longer the treatment goes on. That’s why I only have it weekdays (again, cancer doesn’t work on weekends guys) and have a break between the two treatment block. I should add that the ‘break’ consists of a week of chemo immediately afterwards, and then a proper recovery week before we start the fun all over again.

I’ll close by reporting on a really positive meeting with Sofia Vergara (my South American oncologist Giovanna something) after my RT. She confirmed that my blood test results were good and she was happy to hear that I hadn’t really suffered any side effects, other than fatigue, from the first cycle of chemo. She confirmed that the first cycle was generally the worst, and that the fact I had escaped relatively unscathed put me in good stead to survive the remaining cycles in a similar vein. I also reported that the physical symptoms of the cancer itself had disappeared and she reported that that was also a really good sign, as it means that my tumour is one of the ‘good’ ones, which is receptive to treatment.

Armed with that good news and with only a few happy tears having conquered Day 1 of RT, I had 2 toasted ham, cheese and tomato sammy’s for lunch, fired rice for dinner, and a large ice-cream from ‘Cold Rock’ for dessert.

Until next time, be kind to your colons 🙂

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