The accurate calculations and simulations indicate that it is possible to irradiate my body without exceeding the allowable limit on the heart. The radiation oncologist showed me the images with colored lines that, like geographic contours on a map, indicate how much stress each part of my body will be under. My sternum is going to get a high dose of radiation, the rest a lower one. A piece of my lungs will unfortunately also break as well as a piece of my skin. With the first, one seems to be able to live well and the second fortunately recovers itself.

The therapy can be given in my local hospital, so luckily I don’t have to travel for five or six weeks to one of the three hospitals in our country where proton therapy is given. Also great news for my cats.

The hard treatment table has already been precisely adjusted to my body and I seem to be able to sustain it long enough to lie with my arms slightly above my head. That was a challenge because the skin of the armpit on the side of the amputated breast is still under considerable tension since the surgeon had stitched it together forcibly. Physiotherapy is therefore now focusing on creative stretching exercises. I have also been instructed to train at home to be able to hold my breath for a long time in this position, so that the air in my lungs forms an extra buffer between the radiation and my heart. In my mind I sing the two verses of the Wilhelmus (our nation anthem) at a respectful tempo that I have learned by heart since childhood. I am often allowed to exhale somewhere in the second (for those who had the same Christian childhood, you know that it concerns of course verse number six).

The first therapy (of five weeks) will start next Tuesday afternoon and I hope to be able to complete it just before New Year’s Eve. The second, extra high dose, radiation (for my vertebra) will be given in the new year and a new calculation will be made for this radiation.

All in all, an intensive process with daily hospital visits. I hope (and expect) that the medical imaging and radiation experts will not be snatched away to help in the ICUs for the treatment of people who have not wanted to be vaccinated (Covid-19), but do like to be treated when they get sick.