BT Buddy, Steve Faccenda, talks about Radiotherapy and the mask making process
Earlier this year we asked our BT Buddy, Steve, if he would write up his account of Radiotherapy and the radiotherapy mask making process. He kindly agreed to do this and we have posted his write up and images below.
If you, or someone you know, is due to have a mask made then hopefully this will help you understand the process and alleviate any fears you may have.
After he got over his initial doubts and fears Steve said he felt relaxed on the radiotherapy table and enjoyed his little nap, on more than one occasion he came out admitting he may have nodded off and started snoring in the radiotherapy suite!
The nurses often teased him about how it was time for his nap, he built up quite a rapport with them over the six weeks of his treatment, the Nurses really do make it as pleasant as possible for patients for which Steve was very grateful.
Steve's account of radiotherapy to the brain...
One thing I realised when I was having my radiotherapy sessions was how frightening and solitary it is. Although I wasnâ€™t particularly scared by it all I can understand other peopleâ€™s fears.
The actual process of radiotherapy is pretty simple and not invasive but the setup and the equipment used makes it look a lot worse.
I had radiotherapy on my brain so, the first part of my treatment was the preperation of the mask I had to wear. This was a process of 2 meetings. The first was the production of a plaster mould of my face, this would be used to produce the final mask. This was a process I really was not looking forward to as I can get a little cloaustraphobic and, I was told that the whole of my face would be covered.
The actual process only took about 15 minutes and was strangely relaxing as half of my face was covered in plaster of paris sheets and then the other side, my face warmed up as it set. Almost like having a facial as the room was quiet too, the Nurse also talked me through the whole process, and my partner was allowed to stay in the room too.
Once the mask was set it was removed and your done, although it does take ages to get all the barrier cream (a cream to stop the plaster sticking to your skin) from your face and hair.
From this a plastic mask is made and this then has to be fitted to the blocks that attatch to the Radiotherapy bed. This is slightly odd as the face on the mask is yours. My mask was clear acrylic and only had the mouth area open.
Once all the checks and measurements have been done with the mask and all fits well you are ready to start the Radiotherapy sessions. This is the part I was worried about as I didnâ€™t know what to expect at all.
The first radiotherapy session took quite a while as they have to measure, check and then check again that everything is correct, you then have the actual treatment.
The only way I can describe the treatment is like having an x-ray, apart from the fact that the machine itself moves to several areas (although this may not be the case for everyone). I had 4 shots of radiotherapy from various angles every day for my treatment.
The treatment process is simply you go into the room where the Radiotherapy machine is and are attached to the bed with your face mask and then measured again, the same measurements are used daily. Once you are in the correct position on the bed, the radiographers will leave the room, they do however have contact with the room via radio so if you have any issues they are still able to speak to you.
The machine then goes through its process. There is no noise or feeling when the treatment is actually running, this is something I found odd, as I knew I was getting treatment but I couldnâ€™t feel anything was happening.
For me the whole process was normally over and done within about 15 minutes but this will be different for everyone.
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