So this is my custom made “mask”. It’s designed to hold my head in place down to the millimeter. It was molded to my face specifically and basically straps me to the radiation table.
I must admit the process is unnerving. You get a mouthguard which forces you to breath through your nose, yes the nose I just had surgery on. They strap you down, and shoot radiation at you. But they are really nice about it. In my case, they asked what music I liked and they cranked up pandora during the process, which takes about 20 minutes.
Now, I know some people are into being strapped down onto a table and being helpless, but not me….I’m working through some pretty cool mind games to get through this. One of the tools I am starting to work with is meditation. Centering your the mind during this process is already making a HUGE difference. While I am only 10% done (3 sessions) in today. I expect I’ll have this nailed by 30..
At this point, I am already planning a spectacular demise of this mask when we are done with it, likely involving a shotgun or AR-15.
I’m still learning about the basics of how this works. But let’s just say that this radiation is incredibly targeted and advanced. Its accuracy is measured in millimeters or almost down to the cellular level. I still don’t get it.
The Men’s Locker Room
The cancer treatment center at UTSW is a huge facility. They operate seven (7) parallel radiation machines. Today I calculated they are running at least 200 sessions per day out of this facility. At $2000-$4000 per session, this thing is pumping out an estimated $500K in revenue per DAY. So this “business” is pumping out at least $150M annually, probably closer to $200M. But this I just my back of the napkin calculation.
So the way this works is you arrive and go to “Gowning” where you basically change and put on a beautiful surgical gown. The men go left and the women go right. In this “locker room,” you wait for your technician to come and get you.
Now I’m only three treatments in and have had different times each day, but I’ve noticed the men in my “locker room” are all pretty familiar with each other, even friends. They are all sharing stories of their journey. “I’m on 13 out of 30” or “What are you in for?” and my favorite comment today was “Man they really smoked my ass yesterday”.
This morning on my way in, a sweet older lady was sitting right next to the entrance to “gowning”, she was sitting up very straight and looked concerned. I caught her eye and just said “Hi”, we chatted for a minute and I reassured her that this place is the best. Like I’m an expert after two sessions. Anyway, I went inside, saw her husband “James” who was on treatment twenty-something.
So that sweet little wife has been outside with that anxious face for at least twenty sessions. That’s one lucky dude.
In fact, I’m a pretty lucky guy as well. Mary is insisting on coming with me to these treatments every day. She doesn’t look as anxious as James’ wife, but I think she probably is.