10 December 2010
Yesterday began my six-week journey with CARTI/UAMS, and hopefully the final protocol with my cancer treatment. Talk about the best of both worlds colliding, these two organizations host a state-of-the-art facility on the UAMS campus that has all that you could ask for in a radiation center.
Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute has been around for almost as long as I can remember. Since 1976, they have provided leading-edge radiation therapy to every patient referred for treatment, without regard for the ability to pay. In fact, last year I served as Chair of corporate sponsorships for their annual Tux ‘n Trees gala, a lavish holiday fundraising event that honored First Lady Ginger Beebe. I would have never dreamed then that exactly a year later I would become a patient, a recipient of this magical radiation that will seep into my body and hopefully help prevent an IBC recurrence.
Yesterday I posted on my Facebook that the facility reminded me of the Hot Springs bathhouses, without the radiation part. I’m sure I confused friends with this comparison. Let me explain.
When you arrive to UAMS/CARTI, you are ushered into a dressing area complete with a private dressing area, lockers, a lavatory and a comfortable waiting area complete with magazines to read. Sitting there amongst a nice group of other women waiting on their treatment too, it hit me . . . Where are the man? Don’t men receive radiation treatment too? Of course, I asked, and was then told that the men have their own dressing and waiting area next door to the women.
After taking all this in, and for whatever reason, I was reminded of the Arlington Hotel Spa that pretty much provides the same in preparation for your bath and massage, complete with two separate waiting areas for men and women.
The nice young men and women on my treatment team have already won my heart. They are professional, pleasant and even sometimes humorous. I’ve already received two treatments – yesterday afternoon and early this morning – and I already feel quite at home.
The process is rather simple, especially when compared with the hours long chemotherapy process. I change into my robe, get onto a table, they spend about three to four minutes adjusting my body in an exact position to receive the high-energy radiation beams. And while all of this is happening, you can listen to some good tunes making it a fairly pleasant experience. This morning I arrived at 6:30 am, and was back in my car headed home at 6:50. Amazing!
Someone asked me yesterday, do you have to expose your breasts during the process. The truth is, I’m so used to exposing my breasts to strangers, I could probably go to church topless and not even feel awkward about it. That prompted one of my Baptist colleagues to respond that if I carried this out, she would likely move her membership to my Methodist church for one day. HA! (And to my church friends – not to worry; another deranged comparison on my part.)
While CARTI has made the process itself rather simple, receiving radiation treatment is obviously another hurdle in the entire cancer protocol. More on that subject later. In the meantime, how fortunate we are in this lifetime to have a very targeted therapy like radiation that kills cancer cells, posing very little risk to the body’s other normal cells.
Let the radiation begin! Here’s to killing cancer!
Posted by Stacy Sells at 8:28 AM