Radiation Day 2, Part 1 – “The Man in the Plastic Mask”

Yesterday I alluded to a sweet, custom-made plastic mask that attaches to the table of the external beam machine to accurately position and immobilize my head while the beam does its thing. And, by “does its thing,” I mean swooping and sweeping around my head while shining X-rays into my brain.

The formal name for the type of radiation treatment I’m getting is Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy – IMRT. As I mentioned in a previous post, multiple beams can be combined to precisely shape the result to closely match the shape of what’s left of my tumor. My radiation oncologist painted a beautifully descriptive picture for us when he said that because my tumor type is so-called “infiltrative” he has to design “The Plan” (as it’s called) “to hit a broccoli” in my brain.

Anyway, back to that mask. Many of you dear readers have asked for photographic documentation of the mask. Well, here you go – below, I’ve included a couple of shots of me holding the mask in my hand as well some shots of the mask “in action” (as it were). Also, this time I paid attention; the attachment mechanism is a sort of snap-fit plastic thumbscrew/binding post similar to the ones we use to do foamcore and cardboard prototyping in design classes at Olin. Incredible. Enjoy.

Next time: For the truest geeks among you, stay tuned as I explore the possibility of getting my hands on the CAD model of my brain.

9 Responses

  1. I have to say, the mask is way more fascinating than I expected. Hollywood will be knocking. Also, I can totally relate to the dismay of societal reclassification of 90s alt-rock being tragically called “classic”. #Semisonic4eva

  2. Asymmetric hand-drawn target is noooooo good! It takes that mask straight to scariest-movie-I’ve-ever-seen territory. Please tell me they will let you take this home so you can wear it to your next Halloween party.

    1. Oh yeah, I get to keep this bad boy. There is no way I’m not integrating it into this year’s Halloween costume.

  3. All of this precision design, and then the crosshairs, which I imagine are quire important considering the nature of this targeted treatment, appear drawn by a drunk toddler with a crayon.

    1. Come to think of it, I did think it was weird that there was a 3 year-old in scrubs in the beam room.

  4. Do you get the quick x-ray for final alignment before the beam starts treatment?

    1. They did a simulation on the first day, but otherwise they just snap the mask down over my face and make sure the lasers hit the right spots. Then, it’s off to the races.

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