Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Part 29 - Masking Jape

Is it becoming evident that I’m rapidly losing my dedication to this blog? It’s now been over two weeks since I was given the definitive PET scan results - a piece of information that some people may consider an appropriate stimulus for a blog with the sole intention of tracking the journey of a cancer patient - but I’ve been so busy experimenting with the capabilities of post-chemotherapy liver I’ve barely been able to construct a proper sentence for weeks. This is easily the worst consequence of having cancer, by the way. You can joke about me being a cheap date all you like, but I imagine that would be scant recompense for your date vomiting on your head and flinging his own excrement against a restaurant wall.

The PET results were good, although not mind-blowingly brilliant. Although almost everything has disappeared, there appears to be a tiny sect of stubborn cells in my neck which chemotherapy can’t get rid of and will require some radiotherapy. I’d liken it to when a cat urinates on a carpet. You can attempt to drown it in as much Febreeze as you like, but everyone knows that the only real way to get rid of it is to burn the entire carpet to a lifeless, smouldering cinder. I’ll be receiving fifteen doses of it over three weeks starting on the 25th, after which I can forget about cancer treatments until I’m scanned again in four to six months. I’ll write more about what radiotherapy consists of after I actually know what it involves, outwith cat piss.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of preparation to do. For example, today I had to go and get a mould of my entire head made for my radiotherapy mask - a Perspex skull that clamps you to the table so they can aim the beam precisely and so it won’t set fire to your eyeballs if you sneeze. I was greeted at the door by a man that looked eerily like Heston Blumenthal, complete with the massive glasses that make his big, mad eyes look like two oranges balanced on a grain of rice. Walking in to his workshop was possibly the single most bizarre thing I had ever seen as each wall had three full shelves of ghostly-looking white head casts. It was as if he was an insane serial killer who obsessively surrounded himself with death masks of his thousands of victims, possibly kissing each one goodbye every single night.

After a quick explanation of what was about to happen, he asked me to remove my t-shirt and presented me with a pair of beige tights to put on. At this point, like me, you may have questioned what in the name of the holiest Christ was about the transpire, but it turned out that these tights were for my head to protect my freshly-grown locks of hair. Looking much like a malnourished bank robber, I slinked over to the bed and lay down with my head on a massive bean bag at which point the doctor had to physically readjust the apparatus because, as he rudely proclaimed, I have a “long head”.

What happened next was as exciting as it was absolutely terrifying. He attached a hoover to a port on the beanbag and removed all the air from it to force the polystyrene balls inside to tightly form around my head, neck and shoulders. When I say ‘tightly’, I don’t mean like a pair of jeans you bought a few years ago, I mean I could actually feel my eyes bulging out of face like some disgusting love child of Joan Rivers and a halibut. All the while, lest ye forget, with no t-shirt on, women’s underpants attached to my head and Dr. Blumenthal leering over me like a deranged professor carrying out some form of bizarre Auschwitzesque experiment.

When we were finished, I asked the doctor if I’d be allowed to keep my mask when the radiotherapy is over and done with. The look on his face was as if I had asked him if I could take home and eat his first and only child, but he will kindly allow me to keep it despite the fact that it will ruin his harrowing collection. Today’s appointment just covered the back of my head, and I have to return tomorrow to get a plaster cast of my face done which I quite honestly can‘t wait for. This is, without doubt, my favourite bit of the cancer experience so far. I’ve seen it happen so many times on TV, it’s exactly like I’m in my very own ‘making of’ documentary.

Anyway, I apologise for the lack of entries recently but you have no need to worry - during radiotherapy I’m at hospital for fifteen days out of twenty-one.

I’m sure there will be high-jinks aplenty.