How To Fry Cancer: A Typical Radiation Day

At the time I started writing this post, Chase had completed 17 of his 30 radiation treatments.  He has now completed 22!  These radiation days can be pretty intense and it’s not unusual to start the day in one location (usually home) and end the day in a completely different location (the hospital).  So as you can imagine, these days are never, ever dull.  [sidenote: “Chase” and “dull” are rarely in the same sentence]

Here’s what a normal radiation day looks like … no wait, scratch that.  Here’s what a radiation day last week looked like (we reserve the word “normal” for the days we don’t arrive in an ambulance).

Chase arrives for radiation on the hospital transport. The mask is to hopefully minimize the germs…when he remembers to hold it in front of his face.

There is a beautiful built-in fireplace which runs the length of the waiting room wall (picture a lovely five start hotel lobby) and Chase loves it.  In fact, he refers to the radiation center as his “fire hospital” – not to be confused with his “fishy hospital” (a name derived from the aquarium in the lobby of his primary care hospital).

First, Chase gets his vitals done (blood pressure, oxygen saturation, etc) – which he hates – and then he gets to put a sticker on his sticker chart – which he loves.  The radiation center staff kindly provided a sticker chart tailored to each child so that they can “check off” the days and see the progress they’re making.  Chase’s chart was presented to him with Cars characters on it.  Do they know him or what?

Here’s the sticker chart from around Day #6…

Chasey with his radiation nurse, Roshena. He loves his “Miss Roshena” and I believe he’s actually proposing to her with a plastic ring he found in the sticker box. So classy.

After he’s “cleared” for radiation, we walk to the room he calls his “spaceship“.  This is the time when he’s usually clutching the iPod and listening to/singing with 10,000 Reasons.  I wish I had better pictures of this room.  One of the most striking things is his mask lying by the table.  I can actually see his profile in the contours of the mask and I find myself staring at it every time we go in.

The radiation mask

In the “Spaceship” – the anesthesiologist administers the drug as Chase falls asleep on my shoulder (sorry about the blurry quality – this was as good as we could get)

Almost every day, as Chase falls asleep, he says “I’m so brave, I’m so brave...” over and over to himself.  It took me almost two weeks of this to get to the point where I wasn’t crying as I walked out of the room.

After Chase is asleep, I leave him in the “spaceship” and wait in the lobby.  On this particular day, I had a particularly wonderful “Good Samaritan” who brought me a particularly needed drink.  In other words, my dad brought me coffee.

Thanks, Dad!

After radiation is complete, the nurses allow Chase to sleep off the anesthesia for a little while, at which time, I join him in recovery and once they’re sure he’s stable and alert, we are free to go.  Sidenote: for Chase, “alert” usually means “ninja“.  A side affect of anesthesia for him is crabbiness – which means it takes three people to get him dressed on many days.  A sidenote on my sidenote: when you read that last sentence, please don’t shake your head or cry at the thought of adults struggling with a small boy.  Picture with a small, wry smile on my face as I type because I love his fight and although it is at times overwhelming, his stubborn, ninja-fighting, never-say-die attitude is a perfect God-given match for his cancer.

This day (that I took most of the pictures), we finished it as we’d started: on an ambulance.  Once he got back to the hospital, he was given a little more chemo and then we were able to be discharged!

Back in the ambulance bay and sleeping off the morning – head shining with post-radiation lotion.

…and that is one of our more average radiation days!  (ambulance and chemo not included)

Moment by moment.


3 responses to “How To Fry Cancer: A Typical Radiation Day

  1. Dearest Ewoldts (Ellie),
    Seeing these photos make your walk all the clearer. Forgive me for not texting you to encourage you more. I ache for this walk you are charged to walk; for little Chasey Bear and his braveness, I admire the support of your family/friends. I mostly admire you though. I remember all those weeks and weeks of chemo with Kathryn, but she did hot have to go through Radiation and I can totally see why you would walk out of the ‘space shuttle’ room crying. Please know I love you dearly and forgive me for the chunks of time I’m in my own little world when you are going through this. You would think I would be the one person who would be so on top of this, but it just shows my nature of self shining through. Please know you and all the Ewoldt’s are loved and I admire your strength through his extremely difficult time. Kiss to all the family.
    I wish my sister in Christ did not have to watch her little go boy through all this, but there will be a light at the end of this difficult tunnel. Love you.

    Tricia DeJong

  2. The journey is long and most times emotionally and physically draining. Thanks for taking us through a “chemo day”. Without the incredible power and presence you and Chase could not get through even one of these days. May our able Lord continue to provide ALL you need for this journey and may Chase’s complete healing draw men and women to Jesus, our Savior and Great Physician. Praying for all of you!

  3. Strong “FIGHTING” in a good way, little guy. How precious. BUT…. he couldn’t get through all of this without GOD RIDING ON HIS SHOULDER all the time, and the LOVE, SUPPORT,and CARING Mom and family like you all are to him. Keep the faith and belief you have!

    So nice to meet you my dear, I was happy that you got a break to come and see your friends, and the beautiful tables all decorated to kick off Christmas , HOW BETTER THAN TO HAVE CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE AND HOW HE CARES FOR US, I feel that evening just sets the stage for getting on with the Holiday of CHRISTmas! This was my 3rd year and Janet is a special wonderful friend and neighbor.

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