I mention in the book about the cancer spreading to my left lung, and that I went through Cyberknife treatment to fix it, but I never went into detail about. Mostly because the book is meant to address the commonalities of cancer and not mine specifically. There are so many different strains and treatments out there that if I included them all my book would make War and Peace look like a paperback~
Cyberknife is really cool and literally I know I have it to thank every time I open my lungs to sing. I’ll never forget that and the team who made it happen. Dr. Lean was in charge of my Cyberknife treatment. She and Dr. Copelan who injected the gold markers to set up, but I’m jumping ahead.
First, what the hell is Cyberknife anyway? The geek in me thinks of Dr. Who and the Cybermen, but alas (and thankfully) there’s no correlation (well, Dr. Who would’ve been cool, but there you have it). So, is there a knife involved then? Nope. I think they mean it as a virtual knife. Invisible if you will. Is it radiation? Yup. In the past, people took doses of radiation that ran throughout their bodies to combat the cancer, which means it killed the cancer, but also knocked the shit out of the rest of the body. Not cool. Even if you survived the cancer, the effects of the radiation left your body in such a mess and you’d be left weak as a geriatric. Not a very fair trade and this was what I thought I had to look forward to.
Then, as Dr. H. went over the game plan with me he mentioned CyberKnife. Of course I had to pipe up and ask about it. He explained that it’s a “non-invasive” version of radiation. That gold markers (yes, actual flecks of gold) are injected in the areas surrounding the cancer cells in areas of the body. Areas that were/are often considered inoperable, such as in the brain, head, neck, pancreas, prostate, spine, liver, kidneys and yup, the lungs. Then, they use this giant machine that aims a laser beam of radiation that attacks all the cells within the circumference of the markers. So, what started out as a growing spot of cancer cells in my left lung turned into a small, quite liveable radiation scar where the cancer once was. That, and 3 gold flecks, so yes, you could say I’m The Girl with the Golden lung. How very 007~
The thing I remember most about the experience was that the machine actually followed my breathing pattern. When my chest moved, it moved and adjusted its trajectory so that it was always hitting its target spot on. That, and that I didn’t burn my skin or my clothes for that matter. That’s right. No, zero, nada, zilch, not one burn mark. I get more burnt walking the beach in an hour than I did the few days I spent in there getting Cyberknife treatments. Aaaaand I got to swear that cool stripey vest. There are just so many pluses to my experience with cancer I’m telling you.
So, that’s it there. The giant beam machine. That round bit by my arm is where the beam of radiation shoots out of. I was really disappointed when I couldn’t see it. After Logan’s Run, Blade Runner and all the other SciFi films I’ve watched over the years I thought for sure it would be an infrared or blue glowing light or something. I remember thinking at first that they were just messing with me and it was some kind of placebo effect or practical joke. I guess I wasn’t the first to think it or to verbalize my disappointment. Ah well. There you have it. I think I met with Dr. Lean once more after it was over and then she gets copied on the PET scans I have done every 6 months. They say they can see the scarring, but I can’t feel it. I haven’t tried to run a half marathon yet (that’ll never happen), but I’m confident that I can hold my breath under water and I can sing a song or two without getting winded so I’m happy. Oh, and I’m alive. Yes, that’s a marvelous (and probably my favorite) end result to Cyberknife treatment.
If you want to learn more about it, here’s the website for the place I had Cyberknife, Cyberknife of Southern California – Vista, which has a ton of detailed info for those who want to be in the know. If you google it, you’ll find even more. It’s pretty brilliant and it’s another reason why I think it’s ok to be less afraid of cancer. Cyberknife (I like to call it Cybie for short) and what it did for me is proof positive that we are heading in a better direction…