Radiation factoids

17 Jul

Yesterday was radiation appointment #7 – I am officially one quarter through with these beams!  My radiation technicians, Stacey, Jan and Ethan are great; each day they have to situate me in just the right position so the treatment hits all the right places and none of the wrong places.  Instead of just letting them do their jobs, I find myself asking them a ton of questions each day – almost as if to keep them on their toes.  Although they could find this annoying, they are great sports about it and in turn have given me quite the radiation education.

Me, pleading: “If I’m already feeling these radiation beams as of day #1, does that mean we can reduce the treatment time?”

Stacey, humored: “Oh no honey, you’re in this for the full dose”

Me: “What exactly is my full dose?”

Stacey: “5,400 centigray across all 28 of your treatments. Centigray (cGy) is the unit of measurement we use for radiation.”

Me, quickly: “What is the most amount of centigray someone can tolerate?

Stacey, even quicker: “7,000”

Me, curious: “How do you know what just the right dose is?”

Stacey, patiently: “It depends on what part of the body we are radiating.  Different parts can take different amounts of radiation. We know this based on the testing that has been done on millions of people.”

Me: “So millions of people potentially received the wrong dosage of radiation in order to find out the right amounts that are administered today?”

Stacey: “Well, much of the radiation testing that has been conducted was on the Japanese immediately following the drop of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  They monitored the bomb victims that survived and continued testing to see their response and tolerance levels.  The government even continued some radiation testing in the 1970s on patients without them even knowing.”

Me, perpexed: “Crazy…so I have President Truman to thank for receiving an accurate dosage of radiation levels I’m receiving today?”

Stacey, intrigued: “Hmmm, I guess you could say that.”

We said our goodbyes and my weekend had officially begun.  I wonder if Stacey is ready for another round of questions come Monday?!

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