Friday marked the last day of my seven week chemoradiation therapy journey. Aside from some routine follow-up appointments and recovering from lingering toxicities, I will now wait several months for the repeat PET scan that will provide some insight as to whether or not the treatment was a success. Of course, I’m trying to stay optimistic that the combination of radiation and chemotherapy treatments that I endured over the past seven weeks successfully eliminated all of the cancer – but there is always that nagging thought that it did not and that leaves a pit in my stomach.

Michael Becker's Radiation Mask

Michael Becker’s Radiation Mask

Fortunately, on Friday I was able to take home with me the dreaded radiation mask (see enclosed image). No longer will I need to wear this mask for daily radiation therapy, which makes me VERY happy. The nuclear technicians offered humorous insight as to what other patients do with their masks after radiation treatment is done.  Some make decorative items, such as flower pots. Others simply burn them in a sadistic revenge ceremony, which I must admit holds a certain type of appeal. Although it somehow conjures up thoughts of Darth Vader’s helmet, last seen burning in a funeral pyre in ‘The Return of the Jedi,’ winding up in the hands of Kylo Ren in the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ movie…

Regardless of what I do with my mask, I am enjoying a certain freedom knowing that I’m no longer beholden to a daily treatment schedule and that I have received the very best treatment possible for my disease by the entire team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). It is amazing how quickly the seven week treatment cycle passed and it all seems like a blur right now. While I did not look forward to the daily radiation treatment, the appointments were at least a reminder that I was doing something to treat the disease. Now I have that same empty feeling that plagued me when I was first diagnosed and searching for the best treatment – the feeling that I should be doing something but cannot.

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Hopefully you’ll have some peace for the next several months. I hate waiting, but good things can come to those who wait. I know it’s easy for me to say and I have a hard time listening to this advice, but try to take each day at a time.

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  2. You could use it for corn hole…….seriously though, glad this part is behind you. I have been told that it is perfectly normal to feel on edge…like the cancer can come back. It is abnormal not to feel that way….though it might be mentally healthier…

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  3. Dear Michael, I have been following your journey closely via your blog, because on the 13th Jan I was given the oh so bad news with the almost the same diagnosis as yourself. Stage 4 cancer of the left tonsil, advanced into lymphnodes. I am having exactly the same treatment as yourself 35x 1.5 fractions of radio therapy over seven weeks and six sessions of cisplatin running concurrently for 6 weeks. I am having IMRT. I live in the UK, in Canterbury. I started my treatment on the 29th of Feb, my second week started today. Would you mind if I asked a couple of questions. I will ask one anyway see how it goes, at the beginning you took a picture of the lump in your neck, same as mine, did your lump go down during the treatment and if so how long did it take. They are insisting I have a PEG fitted which happens on Wednesday this week. I hope you will soon start to feel better they say the 4 weeks after treatment finishes is the worst. Your Story has given me hope and inspiration. Best Regards Walter Eyden

    Date: Sat, 5 Mar 2016 13:46:12 +0000 To: waltereyden@hotmail.com

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    • Dear Walter – sorry to hear about your similar diagnosis. My lump did begin to shrink very early in the treatment. Keep the faith and know that this disease appears to have a relatively high cure rate. Let me know if you have any other questions…

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