Friday, April 13, 2012

Cindy Lauper and radiation

The above statement is so true. I had just such an awkward moment this week during one of my radiation appointments.

First let me set the scene. Every day I go into the radiation area, take off my clothes and put on the hospital gown and sit and wait till I'm called for my appointment. Then I am escorted into the radiation room where I lie on a glass table while the technicians put a mesh plastic mask over my head which is then nailed onto the glass table in order to limit my movement. The technicians then manipulate my body and make sure it is lined up properly with the machine which delivers the radiation beam. When they are satisfied they leave the room. I then hear a loud beep which lets me know that the radiation is happening. Then the glass table I am lying on is raised about 6 feet in the air while the machine moves around to my back where I get another beam of radiation. This whole process usually takes a total 15 minutes.

On this particular day, after the technician placed the mask over my face and head, and nailed it down to the table I happened to catch a glimpse of myself reflected back to me in the radiation machine glass which was directly above me. I was taken aback as I really did look like something straight out of a horror flick. I wish I could accurately describe what I looked like, and my subsequent a friend said - it was a very "silence of the lambs" moment. Now I should mention that in the radiation room they play easy listening hit radio. Anyway, on this particular day, when the technicians left the room and I heard the ' beep' declaring radiation officially on, in the exact same moment I suddenly heard Cindy Lauper, with a sudden leap in radio volume, blaring:

"GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FU-UN...OH GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUUUN...thats all they really waaaant....some fuuuun..."

I have to say that it was in that moment, as much as any other on this weird journey, that the absolute absurdity of my situation really sunk in. And I think I laughed out loud. Even though a tiny part of me felt a bit like crying. A minute later the technician came back in humming along with Cindi Lauper very un-selfconciously to herself as she lowered the table I was nailed to back down to the ground. As she removed my mask she asked me if I had any plans for the afternoon, we chatted for a minute then I went on my way thinking about the awkward irony and slight hilarity of it all.

On my way out I passed by 3 women in a radiation waiting room comparing chemo war stories with each other while perusing 'Canadian Living' magazines. There is something soothing about those conversations....the knowing looks and "mmm-hmm" are the truest sounds in situations like that. I almost wanted to join them, but walked out of the building instead, into the blazing sun.

Yes dear Cindy, girls do just wanna have fun. But some get radiated instead.


  1. Plenty of irony in this life. That story is amazing - it's actually hard to believe that - with that song. Hang in there Julia. Peace.

  2. Oh my gosh! That sounds so funny and awkward at the same time. Too bad easy listening always has to be the musical common ground in doctor's offices. I think if it were up to me I would do soundtracks from epic movies, to get people really psyched up.

    1. Yes Lisa!!! That is SUCH a good idea!!! I think i might suggest it. Congrats on the little one by the way!

  3. "When the working day is done," eh? Wow, Julia, you bring such humanity to a description of such a cold circumstance. Thanks for sharing your experience with the wonders of radiation treatment, and your most unusual 'encounter' with Cyndi Lauper!