Bryan's Take“From my perspective, the early days of treatment were the easiest. I didn't feel any side effects at all for the first few weeks; so much so that I honestly wondered if the treatment was working. You hear so many horror stories about patients suffering through their radiation and chemotherapy that I honestly thought something was wrong with symptom-free me.
“Well, turns out the symptoms were on their way, just late. The weeks after radiation were the worst, symptom-wise. But my doctors tell me that's normal, and to be expected. And in this situation, "normal" is good.
Luckily, I didn't know what to expect during my initial treatment at Cedars-Sinai. If someone had warned me that I'd be bolted down by a facial mask each morning while I received radiation therapy, I probably would have opted out.
The first thing they did during my treatment was fit me for my mask. The mask, which I came to know very well, started off as something similar to a very pliable, warm tennis racket that they stretch to fit your face. Then they put me - mask and all - through a simulated CT scan to line up the radiation exactly. And this was all on the first day!
Yes, day one... the initial diagnosis had barely registered, and here I was being rushed into treatment. It was a great feeling.
By day two, the mask had hardened to the point where it was ready to do its job; namely, keep my head (the target) locked into place while the radiation machine whirled around me. The mask was so restrictive that my eyelids were pressed closed and it left me with a checkerboard pattern on my face that we dubbed "lizard face." Luckily, lizard face was temporary and would usually be gone within an hour.
Fortunately, I am not claustrophobic, because that mask really held me tight. But someone who is might have a harder time. As it was, I looked forward to my radiation appointments. First of all, I liked the technicians. We chatted daily about beer and sushi. Second, I didn't mind lying down for 15 minutes every morning while the machine did its work; a machine dubbed "the Ferarri of radiation machines" by one of the techs. Finally, it felt great to have a plan in place. Six weeks of radiation? Bring it on.