Radiation Simulation

radiation machine
The Varian Radiation Therapy Trilogy System, which will deliver my radiation.

Radiation Oncology Consult 
I didn’t have my actual consult today because of some scheduling issues, but I did get to meet with Dr. Langer briefly.  He was a very nice guy and went over the procedure with me.  He explained all the risks of doing total body radiation, but like everyone else he recognizes the alternative to not doing it would be death, so we both decided to move forward.  I signed the consent and he sent me off to radiation simulation.  I’ll have my actual consult on 9/16 to hear more about the process and ask questions.

Simulation Terminated
Today was radiation simulation day.  Basically this was a prep session to make sure everything is in place for my radiation therapy.  As part of the SCT, I will receive radiation twice a day for 4 days.  In the morning they’ll fry my front side.  They then send me back to my room to let the glow die down.  After a few hours in my room, the send me back in the afternoon to fry my backside.  This goes on for for days until I can cook eggs by simply holding them in my hands.  My science may be a little off there, but I’m sure getting shot with a bunch of radiation has some cool side effects they haven’t told me about yet.  For now, Simulation makes me think of this scene from Monster’s Inc.  Hopefully they don’t keep any jacks on the floor in the therapy room.

Gown Up Young Man 
I had to wear 2 robes for simulation, although they took one off me rather quickly.  Maybe someone saw something they liked as I was hopping up on the table.  On the table is a bag the shape of a twin mattress but filled with bean bag like beans.  They shape this bag around me as I lay on my side.  The goal is to shape the bag in such a way to support my body and not allow it to move.  Once they’ve molded the bag in the right way, they suck the air out of it and the bag stays rigid in the form of my body.  Come radiation day, I’ll lay in this mold so that I won’t move as the radiation occurs.  After getting a mold of me laying on my right side, we then proceeded to get a mold of me laying on my left side.

During the molding process, they also take a lot of measurements and pictures.  The pictures are so that they can see exactly how I was lying during simulation.  The measurements are so that they can measure where I am in relation to the radiation machine as well as other parts of the setup.  Basically all of this is done to make sure I’m in the EXACT same spot for the actual radiation as I was for the simulation.  Apparently if I shift a little bit, say by scratching my nose, I could get radiation to my lungs.

body mold
One of my 2 body molds. For this one, I lay on my left side with my head to the left and my feet to the right.

Speaking of radiation to my lungs,that is one of the potential complications.  They build blocks and place them in front of you so that the radiation won’t reach the lungs, but that’s assuming you are in the EXACT same spot.  Side effects to my lungs can range from difficulty breathing during exercise to needing oxygen all of the time due to reduced lung capacity.  I’m already doing a bone marrow transplant, so I’d like to avoid a lung transplant.  They took x-rays of my lungs while I was laying in my EXACT spot and they will use these x-rays to trace and cut the blocks.  Maybe that will be a project in Natalie and Sydney’s next pre-school class.

Well Nuts
I had an inkling that this was going to be the case, but Dr. Langer confirmed that I will get a testicle boost as part of my radiation.  Now that by itself may not sound bad.  I mean who doesn’t want to boost their testicles?  It’s kinda like the smoothie shops when you can go in and get a Vitamin C boost or a Protien Boost.  They put a little something in your drink to boost you in some way.  So maybe you’re getting a smoothie one Friday and you know you have a big night out planned with the little lady.  Why not get that testicle boost improve your performance a little bit?

Unfortunately in this case, testicle boost, means an extra dose of radiation to the boys down south.  They’ll lay me on a different table.  Dr. Langer will apparently “arrange” things to his liking and then they’ll hit up Fred and George with a direct shot. And no I don’t call my testicles Fred and George.  That was just for illustration purposes.  Besides, Fred and George aren’t testicle names.  At least one of them would have to be named Harry.

Thankfully the general should still be able to salute.  The most likely side effect will be azoospermia, or a decreased sperm count.  In all likelihood I’m already shooting blanks, but you never know.  I started with a larger army than most (as medically proven during infertility testing) so maybe some special forces will survive.  Good thing I have a large basilic vein.

My Curveball Post
It’s never happened to me before, but there’s a first time for everything.  I accidentally posted my last blog entry before it was done.  Apparently premature posting is something that happens to a lot of men, not just me.  I’m hoping to avoid it in the future though.  So if you were a person that read Curveball within the first 15 minutes of it being posted, you might want to go back and read it again.  A few things may have changed.

A Duck Dynasty Prayer
Stepping out of my comfort zone is never easy.  I’m used to chemo.  I’m used to IV bags with liquids flowing into me.  I’m not used to a big room with big equipment.  I’m not used to everyone clearing out and being alone as radiation courses through my body.  Side effects are nothing new, but serious long term side effects seem more real now.  My body isn’t perfect now.  And it won’t be perfect after all of this.  The goal isn’t fully functioning lungs.  The goals is a cure and to be with my family for many more years.  I know I will be physically protected.  I know I will be spiritually protected.  Reassure my heart of what my mind already knows.  Thank you for the team of experts that has been assembled.  Guide their hands and heads as they measure and make decisions.  Guide the radiation to the cancer and kill anything that may be remaining.  Thank you that this kind of treatment is available so close to home.  Close to bedtime stories and goodnight kisses.  Thank you for another day.

13 thoughts on “Radiation Simulation

  1. Wow….fascinating and scary, and hilarious. You’re representing the One so well. Thank you for pressing forward in faith every time, though not with your own strength but with the power of the Gospel. That shows in your posts and it’s inspiring. {{}}

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. WOW. WOOOOOOW! Rob, you never cease to amaze and inspire me. I laughed out loud throughout your post, despite the heavy and scary subject matter. You are amazing and brave…and did I say amazing?! Don’t stop believing for a minute that you will fight your way through this. You may be physically alone in that radiation room, but always remember that your RobStrong army is there beside you in spirit. I’m thinking of you, saying prayers, and faithfully RobStrong!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems your post made most of us smile. I agree…you are funny and faithful and brave. I pray that the “cool” side effects of the radiation are minimal. I pray for your “boys” and the “general” and am thankful that you are trying to get your premature posting under control. Most of all, I am thankful for your updates. Praying hard for you, Mr. Culross, during this phase of the battle. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t put into words all that this post teaches us about this next step in the journey. It’s as if all the “beans” that surround you through the radiation process are all representative of the number of prayer warriors holding you still as you go through the radiation timing. I know I will be with you every minute with prayer. Love you, Mom

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You would be surprised how you can take a quick nap once you get use to the routine of radiation. It does cause fatigue so be prepared. And hopefully you will not blister like I did. That was not any fun. But I know you will take it in stride just as you have all your other treatments. You do have a huge army of prayer warriors watching your back.

    Take care
    Aunt Liz

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks again for yet another morning laugh! I am sure Lindsay’s face turns a little red after reading some of your blogs 🙂 I continue to pray for all of you, mostly you Rob, if you are doing good that means your family is as well!! Have a great Wednesday!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rob you are amazeballs! Thanks for the giggles and for the education about the radiation process you will be receiving. I praise God for the intelligence of the people who have developed the drugs and treatments to facilitate cures of the varied cancers. Your posts help deepen the faith of your followers as we all follow Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

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