IMG_0420     Sorry for the graphic picture, but this was the beginning of my skin breakdown from radiation at the end of November 2018, 4 weeks into radiation treatments.  Every phase of cancer therapy has it’s own challenges and radiation therapy was no different.  30 treatments…translating into 30+ days, Monday thru Friday, not including Federal Holidays.  Each treatment lasting less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  I have no paintings from this time because I was not inspired by this phase of treatment…it was all so sterile and like an assembly line…

It started with a CT scan to map out where the radiation would be administered as they fit you into a mold of your body with your arms up and head turned away from the radiation field…and then 3 small blue tattoos…one on each side of my chest and one over my non-existent left breast.  How strange for someone with several “real” tattoos that these should be so annoying…And then, the next day…walk in, check in, called back, remove top/please wear separate bottom and top to expedite the treatments, lay on the table in your body mold where we will adjust you to our specifications…never really speaking to you that much, just to each other in code and occasionally, near the end of treatment, once your skin is showing wear and tear…a simple question as to whether the marking tape hurts.

But that isn’t fair, I guess…one of the technicians did engage…did speak to me like a person instead of like an object to be treated, in silence, with the whir of the machine the only sound as it moved from right to left to underneath me.  A simple, “Okay we are going to get started,” the only sound after being adjusted to the specifications.  20 minutes of silence broken only by the movements of the machine and the technician who would come in at the halfway point to physically adjust the table I was on to the specifications for the next set of computer generated specifications.  This was the least human part of cancer treatment.

6 days after my last day of radiation therapy, my skin burns were bad enough that I went to a general surgery wound care clinic for treatment, as the constant “Just put this lotion on it” wasn’t cutting it anymore.  4 months later and I still have a sore spot behind my left armpit…I smiled at the end, but I really felt like just another hand-print on a wall…


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