Today, I had a planning meeting with the radiotherapy team at the Rosemere Cancer Centre at Preston Hospital.

After a dodgy start to the day during which I got myself worked up over something as silly as the lack of available parking spaces (my emotions are still a little raw after the chaos of the past few weeks), I went in for my appointment.

The radiotherapy team couldn’t have been friendlier, and they talked me through everything I needed to know in order to begin my treatment in two weeks’ time.

This included being fitted for a mask.

The mask is used to hold your head and neck still while you are undergoing your treatment, and everyone has their own individual mask moulded.

They start out flat, like this…


Then, after you’ve taken up your position on the table, the plastic mould is soaked in hot water, placed over your face and moulded into shape by a team of nurses.

Giving you…


You can possibly just make out that the mask is then pinned down to the table to keep you from moving at all.

Here’s another view…


I can’t say it’s the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn (and I’ve been a panto dame many, many times), but it wasn’t as terrifying as I’d imagined it would be.

Plus, the team were incredible.

I couldn’t be in better hands.

The final task of the day was to give me a tattoo.

Yes, a tattoo!

This is so my body can be lined up in exactly the same position, session after session.

And here, it is…

My first tattoo.  Sitting proudly on my chest…


What do you mean you can’t see it?  It’s right there!


I feel like such a badass!

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  1. Think I’m going to have to call you Phoebe!


  2. You ARE a badass, Tommy. And it wasn’t silly for you to get worked up over all the frustrations you had to put up with today, it was perfectly reasonable.

    I am keeping all my crossables crossed for you.


  3. Hi Tommy

    Sorry about the parking. Your earlier post about parking – well, it brought back a lot of PRH memories for me! The parking used to wind me up hugely. Really, it used to make me soooo mad! I had my radio nearly 5 years ago, but these are some of the things I tried – I’m mentioning them in the hope they might help you too, but I’m also aware that advice comes from all directions when you’re ill, some welcome, and some you want to bugger off, and so, if you feel you’ve had it up to here with listening to advice, just skip to the next reply. 🙂
    The radio appointments start early in the morning. If it’s still like it was when I went, the earlier you go, the less chance there is of having to wait ages for your session. The queues tend to build up through the day. I used to ask for early appointments so I could a) find a parking space and b) not have to wait too long. Plus – you get to rest when you get home because there’s more of the day left.
    Parking – try using the car park on the right immediately as you turn into the hospital off the main road. I used to find most people turn left in front of A & E and the car park on the right stays empty. This applies more the earlier your appointment. Failing that, once in the car park, head for the exit and look for a space there. Avoid having your appointments coincide with visiting times if at all possible.
    Ask for a free car parking pass (if they haven’t given you one) which you should be entitled to if you’re having cancer treatment. This pass can be obtained from the ward. You go to this counter near the main entrance I think, and you get this form to fill in and give to the ward. It should be valid to the end of your treatment. You’re also entitled to free prescriptions for 5 years. It’s a medical exemption certificate that you need. Your GP gives you the form for that if your oncologist hasn’t already. Sorry if you knew all this – one of my friends went years before she found out she was entitled.
    You are allowed to take your own music into radio sessions. You might want to have a playlist of suitable “kick-ass” songs that will help with the battle. I had my own playlist. I took in my phone and played my music on that. They may warn you that the machine might frazzle your phone. You leave your phone in the corner where you get changed. My phone was fine, though. I think they have to say this, just in case! (However, maybe don’t take favourite songs, as you may find you don’t want to hear your playlist again after your treatment has ended.)
    It can be cold in the radiotherapy room as, I think, the machines need a certain temperature to work. I was always cold. I took a robe to help keep me warm.
    As I say, this is intended to maybe help you find a pathway through the next couple of weeks, so, just chuck it if it’s unwelcome, with my apologies.
    I promise you that for me, the waiting for treatment to start was the hardest bit. Once it begins, you’ve only to get your head down, and count off the days. When you get to the half way mark, it’s a good feeling. And you’ve already come a fair distance, you know. You will get there, and you will get better. Look at Kylie Minogue, Clare Balding, that actor off Holby City …. add Tommy Donbavand to that list!
    Oh, and someone said to me, “if you look over your shoulder in the treatment room, you’ll see all your friends, right behind you, all the way. ”
    I held tight onto that all through my treatment. 🙂


  4. That mask is very similar to the get up you wore at Alnwick castle that time, I think you were King Arthur in your snazzy chain mail affair. I think James was too!


  5. It’s quite a Tron look isn’t it? 🙂 xxx


  6. Today, one dot; tomorrow, a full sleeve! I know how it is once someone starts getting tattoos. 😉


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