|Lining up the lasers|
The first ritual burning began at Addenbrooke's Hospital this morning. I stopped in a lay-by en route, to take the ten vitamin B3 tablets I am instructed to take one hour before the appointed time. Then I am stripped to my underpants to expose my tattoo spots, and laid on a cold steel slab. The oxygen mask is fitted across my face, and the laser guide beams turned on. I am moved and poked to manoeuvre me into position, then everyone leaves and a siren sounds to warn of radiation danger. The machine thuds to life, and cold air from the cooling fans adds to the discomfort. To the sound of loud bleeps, the whole thing begins to turn round me, blasting the bladder from different angles. Opening my eyes is highly disorientating; the optical illusion is so strong that it seems to be me that is rotating, rather than the machine, making me dizzy, certain that the table itself is tilting and will tip me off. So I keep my eyes closed, or stare through the gaps to the ceiling of the room rather than at the machine. Then there is silence, and a voice says "that's all done," and they release me from the straps and let me down.
Many people waiting for this treatment seemed to be alone; it was strange to think we all have cancer in common. But I was so glad that Ann and Edwin had come with me. They steadied me as I left, and gave comfort that I was not alone, and we would get through this together.