Our daily routine consisted of getting up at about 9, getting ready and leaving for about 10:30. We'd then get to Leeds at roughly 12:15, we'd buy our sandwiches from the shop and go down to the radiotherapy department. The treatment itself took roughly 5 minutes, but we had to wait for up to an hour before I could go for my radiotherapy. We would then go back home, taking another hour and 45 minutes. This was my daily routine for six weeks.
Radiotherapy works by targeting high energy radiation at the cancerous cells. It damages there DNA, which kills them, however it also kills non-cancerous cells, meaning that the surrounding area is also damaged. Because of this the skin where my tumour is became very very sore after about the second week of radiotherapy and began to peel off. In many ways it was like really bad suntan and it was extremely painful to touch. Because of where the tumour is the radiotherapy had to pass through my intestines, meaning that after a few weeks of radiotherapy I could potentially begin to get very painful stomach cramps.
|One of the radiotherapy machines at St James' Hospital, Leeds.|
The other major side effect of radiotherapy was tiredness. Not just slight tiredness but extreme tiredness. Some days I would feel so tired I wouldn't want to get out of bed at all, but I would still have to, so I could go to Leeds. This side effect also meant that I got worn out a lot quicker than a healthy person would, and mixed in with the fact I was still feeling the side effects from my high dose chemotherapy led to me being extremely tired at times. Furthermore, because of the fact that radiotherapy effects last a long time, even now I still get tired really easily and some days I am really tired even though it's been a good few months since I finished radiotherapy.
On Friday the 10th of June 2011 I had my first day of radiotherapy treatment.
My first two weeks of radiotherapy went ahead without event, but by the end of the second week I was beginning to feel fairly tired. This was probably a combination of the 140 mile round trip I was making each day, the chemotherapy's late effect and the effect of the radiotherapy. It also seemed to be going really slowly and I was missing being able to seen my friends, mainly because they were busy with exams. I felt quite alone at this point because I'd lost contact with my friends because they were busy with exams and other stuff. I also didn't see any of my friends from the ward because I was no longer an inpatient so didn't have a reason to go to the ward which was at a different hospital in Leeds.
I was counting down the days as I continued with my radiotherapy but it was seeming to go so slow and I was only two weeks in and the effects so far had been relatively modest. The worst bit was probably knowing that as it continued I'd carry on getting more and more tired each week.