wide-eyed at 4am

My New Tattoos

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Last Wednesday morning I met up with the radiology folks at LCI Morehead for my pre-radiation CT scans. My “planning team” in Pineville will be using the scans to set my radiation dosage and schedule. I will start next Tuesday with a dry-run day during which I will be educated on the minimal side effects of radiation and the dos and don’ts that I will be expected to observe during my treatment.

I will have no fewer than 31 sessions – if you count next Tuesday’s dry-run. The actual dry-run will be exactly like a radiation treat but they won’t use the real juice. They will pretend to give me radiation to make sure that the cradle fits the same on the Pineville table as it did at Morehead where it was made. They wouldn’t won’t to cook me without making sure they are aiming at exactly the right place.

So I’ve mentioned 2 things that those who’ve not had recent experience with radiation may find odd being mentioned as part of the treatment: tattoos and a cradle.

So the tattoos are tiny. I have 3 that mark positions that the radiology technicians will use each time I come in for a treatment. They are underneath green marker and clear tape – but they are there. So they will be used at least 31 times to line me up. That’s why they are tattooed. No ink would last through the 7 weeks that the treatment will take.

My tats are tiny but I know they are there from the stick of the needle. Only one really “hurt” – the other two were apparently in skin that is still quite numb from surgery. So after all of this is done and the tape and marker have gone away, I suppose I will have a three dots – one on my right side rib cage, one on the left and one in the center. I think they are black but I’m not sure since I couldn’t see what the techs were doing and I can’t really see what color they are underneath the green marker.

And the cradle? What in the heck? That is what I thought when my radiology oncologist mentioned that I would be getting a custom one made.

As the technicians are setting up for the CT scan, they are also “molding” the cradle. It’s really cool. It starts out as a sack of beads/pearls/peas that can be pushed around your torso, arms, head and even hands to position you exactly as you need to be for the radiation to hit its target area perfectly. This makes it a no-brainer to strike the correct pose quickly hence making the daily treatment a quick and simple process. Undress, strike the pose, get zapped, redress. I’m told that it may not even take 15 minutes.

So after the technicians get me in position, the doctor approves the position and marks me for the positioning tattoes, the technicians position the beads and then turn on the magice machine. I can feel the beads hugging to my body through the bag fabric as they are formed into the solid cradle. After a few minutes it’s done.


The scans are done as I’m lying in the cradle: one normal breathing scan and one done while I’m holding my breath. We produced good scans without redoing either. Becuase of this, I was labeled as a good breather. ┬áLOL

When the scans were complete and I could get up from the table, I saw the cradle. It reminded me of a child’s car seat – only with places for you arms. I was totally amazed that the sack o’ beads was now a substantial cradle customized to my body and my appropriate radiation “pose.”

And the entire process only took 40 minutes.

I will meet my cradle at LCI Pineville Radiology next Tuesday.



Author: jillpurdy

A few months ago I wasn't but now I'm a statistic. That doesn't define me. I'm a daughter, a sister, a wife, a step mom, a grandmother, a friend and a Christian. I will continue to love exercise, music, cooking and food, and my family and friends. I'm stubborn, energetic, giving and too OCD for my own good sometimes. And I'm going to stay this way - despite cancer and the treatments that it takes to give it the royal beatdown.

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