– Radiation Journal - part 3
15days of whole brain radiation

The morning city was full of birds yesterday – seagulls swooping and flying down corridors; the red brick row houses at the foot of Beacon Hill.  Over the Science Bridge, the sky blushes purple as I drive in, but by the time I park and walk, the street is lit.  I get vitamin C at CVS; then a bagel; then down to the waiting room. After one day, I discover another place to wait: upstairs looking out the window wall at the construction site opposite.

There, I watch hard hats, standing on a building ledge maneuver a concrete partition into place.  Next chair facing the windows is the woman from Wareham who’s moving to Cranston, RI – talkative, and easy. Monday is her last treatment



Midway through treatment - evaluation appointment with Dr.Lawrence. He says he has to let the dust settle after radiation. I say I’ve been watching construction at Cox all week and that’s a funny metaphor. He promises to work on a better one. I ask him why patients with brain mets are excluded from most clinical trials. I wait to hear him say because they’ll probably die before the trial ends, but he says – there are three reasons, one: prejudice, two: some trials are of medicine known to be ineffective for melanoma; and three – life expectancy may not support the study goals. 

The only thing he says that alarms me is that by our next appointment, I may not feel as well. I say I still have my hair; he says the radiation oncologist’s note from last Friday said the same thing. Still has own hair. He reminds me that brain mets are an emergency, and do, statistically reduce life expectancy. He has a way of delivering bad news that makes me feel I’ll beat the statistics – here we are making voice and eye contact, engaged.. Death is far away.

I  pay my parking and remember my rituals of placing the validated ticket in the visor, then driving down to the gate, cranking the window, retrieving the ticket from the visor and putting it in the machine; a ritual against losing. Many rituals against losing –  taking pictures, one of them. A stop in the garage-- parentheses around every visit.



radiation journal

12/26/2006 - 1/18/2007


part 1

part 2

part 3


part 4