Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cancer Radiation Mask

It's a war souvenir. A lightweight plastic mesh mask that I used for 44 days undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Each morning, I wore this mask so that the radiation treatment could precisely target my cancer. Starting off as a flat sheet, the meshed surface was run under hot water and applied to my face. The mask hardened into the shape you see in the image. You can make out the profile of my face contour at the top of the picture where the neck and chin starts at the left . The mask is fitted with clamps that bolt to the treatment table so each treatment can be targeted precisely to the individual. It also keeps you from moving and screwing up the treatment session. See photos of the radiation treatment mask.

Today, I brought it home with me to show what this part of the cancer treatment is like for others who may be needing it.

At this juncture of the treatment, there is light at end of the funnel. At first, I couldn't see an end to the series of chemo, surgeries and radiation treatments. It was like a big upside down funnel over my life blackening the sun. As the treatments progressed, the funnel righted itself and I began to see cracks of daylight streaming through the top. Today, I have passed a milestone. The funnel is getting out of the way and the blue sky and sun are kicking in.

Today, the radiation treatment is complete. Forty-four days of it. Now I have a war souvenir to remind me of the ordeal. Now the real recovery begins.


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