The radiotherapy, the fourth treatment, started today. A different building on the hospital grounds, a different team, different actions, different words and customs to learn and probably different side effects. During the first three treatments (two series of chemotherapy and an operation) it quickly became clear how my body responded and it had to recover again and again. For the time being, I don’t feel anything from this radiotherapy myself, but it will probably quietly pile up in the coming weeks to a lot of fatigue and damage in my body.

There is no reason to delay, as occurred with the chemotherapy, or accelerate as with the surgery. That is why I already have a neat list on my desk with all the dates for the first series of radiation treatments up to and including December 29th. It is a very welcome thought that I can finally plan something in my agenda again. Ice, weather and decrease in energy serving of course. In fact, the physiotherapy department has already adjusted their team’s appointments with me so that I don’t have to go to the hospital grounds twice in one day and don’t have to wait long on site between appointments. Until just before the first radiation treatment, they helped me wonderfully with training, deep relaxation and stretching. Apart from their always beneficial listening ear. The result was impressive: I could clearly lie better stretched and relaxed on the radiotherapy treatment table.

Perhaps the biggest change is mental: there is no longer a desired result to look forward to immediately after radiotherapy. There was no cancer visible on the latest scans and we will most likely not be able to see anything on new scans. So we rely on research on other people and don’t really know what it’s going to do for me. Bomb attacks on peaceful-looking body parts, because there may still be some small insurgents secretly waiting in a trench somewhere. We never know….

By holding my breath during radiotherapy, a protective air buffer is created between the radiation and my heart. Today it turned out that I didn’t have to hold my breath as long as I thought and had trained. For that reason, I quickly decided to do one other thing in a different way: holding my breath, I decided to sing only the sixth verse of the anthem Wilhelmus in my mind. I may already exhale after those impressive closing verses of verse 6: “Dispel the tyranny that wounds my heart”. That seems more appropriate to me in this situation than to reaffirm my lifelong tribute to the King of Spain for the umpteenth time (see below for the translated verses). This time, moreover, in a somewhat disrespectful position. That man probably isn’t hoping for that either….

First and sixth verse of our national anthem ‘Wilhelmus’
Wilhelm of Nassuwe
am I, of German blood,
faithful to the fatherland
I remain until death.
A Prince of Orange
am I, free, undaunted,
the King of Hispania
I have always honored.

My shield and the trust
art thou, O God my Lord,
on You I want to build,
Never leave me again.
That I may remain pious,
your servant standing tall,
dispel the tyranny
that wounds my heart.