So today I went and saw the radiotherapy doctors at the Peter Macallum Hospital, Victoria’s premier cancer hospital. Before I talk about me, I want to talk about that hospital because it was one of the most amazing patient orientated places I have ever been.
The Peter Mac (as it tends to be known to everyone) is a bit of a maze. That is a big downside when you’re stressed and confused and don’t know where to go. However, once you get where you need to be – in my case the Breast Cancer clinic, the waiting space is absolutely amazing. The various clinics are located alongside each other, with one big waiting room. And what a waiting room it is.
I wasn’t there for very long, but this is what I saw. There are jigsaw puzzles, with tables set up to do jigsaw puzzles on. There is a big box of wool, with knitting needles and I’m guessing crochet hooks, so people can knit/crochet while waiting. The supporting columns were all decorated with yarn bombing. There were colouring pencils and adult style colouring pages. There were board games and a chess board. There was a library of fiction and non-fiction books. There were magazines in many different languages. There were comfortable chairs. There were treadmills if you want to walk off anxiety or do your daily exercise. There is also free wifi so you can browse the internet/read RSS feeds/play games on devices.
I know the Peter Mac is moving next year to a new location on Grattan Street, across from the Royal Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospitals, and I hope they keep this very patient friendly and supportive atmosphere in their new building. It was great to see so much creativity. A little more on what goes on is here.
Ok, so me… I saw a younger doctor who initially told me I’d need 6 weeks of radiotherapy, and then went through my cancer diagnosis history and overall health. I reported something* which I think might be related to the surgery I had, he wasn’t sure it was related, but I’ll speak to the breast care nurse at the Royal Women’s tomorrow anyway. He took me through the not very likely, but serious risks of having radiotherapy, and then went off to find his supervisor – who is the doctor I’d actually been referred to see.
The supervisor doctor said that I’d only need 4 weeks (which is what the RWH had said), and that overall that’d be better for me as it means that it’s over quicker and the immediate side effects don’t last as long. I will be called for a mapping appointment which will be in the next two weeks, and then radiotherapy will start two weeks later than that… probably. Apparently the planning of how to deliver the treatment without impacting on my heart and lungs can take up to a week, so the radiotherapy won’t start as soon as I expected. This is ok, I am not an urgent case. Given my cancer is at an early stage and appears to be completely removed from my body.
* I have some pain under my breast that seems to be as if some fluid (oedema) has formed as a result of surgery. It might resolve on it’s own, it might need to be drained. I’ll get a second opinion, because it’s sore and that means that I’m not doing all the things I’d like to do otherwise.