Four years ago after experiencing severe headaches and dizziness my neurologist ordered an MRI of my brain, and a small brain tumor was discovered. Turned out to be a benign meningioma that was lodged in an inaccessible place at the base of my skull. I decided to live with the occasional dizziness and watch it.
Over the next several years MRI’s revealed no growth, but recently my hearing began fading a bit and my gait less steady. The MRI revealed the tumor had grown and filled the narrow space, untreated it would destroy the nerve.
Twenty years ago it meant difficult brain surgery, then a noninvasive alternative called the Gamma knife; a high-intensity radiation beam that destroyed tumors was discovered. This procedure required that your head be immobilized by screwing a frame into your skull to keep you from moving while the beam was delivered. The newest technology is called the Cyberknife which requires only that a mask to be molded of your face which is then clamped down on the table. The Cyberknife delivers high-intensity radiation with sub millimeter accuracy because while it’s doing that it is constantly taking pictures of your brain keeping the tumor in focus at all times. If you move, cough, twitch or sneeze the Cyberknife automatically recalibrates, and keeps the beam directly on target.
The neurosurgeon/radiation oncologist created the program for the treatment that required five consecutive days of radiation, and his technician, Steve would deliver the treatment. Steve a gentle, easy to talk to soul, described how he’d create the mask, which was a replica of my face, through which I could breathe easily, but wouldn’t be able to speak or move my head. I said I didn’t like feeling trapped, but Steve said since I had no problem with the MRI machine, it wouldn’t be a problem. He wouldn’t be in the room with me, but assured me that he’d be watching me during the entire procedure, and would always be with me. Steve asked what kind of music I liked and would play it in the treatment room.
Last week I put the mask on for my first treatment, and when Steve clamped it down it was so snug I could hardly quiver my nostrils (see pictures). My initial reaction was this might be more than I can handle. Steve saw me fidgeting and touched my shoulder; “it’s going to be okay” he said, breathe in slowly… there’s plenty of spaces in the mask, slowly, see how easy it is. I’m right here watching you, you are not alone”… and I believed him and felt his healing hands.
The Beethoven let me go to my quiet place and I was OK until my back started aching. 45 minutes is a long time to lie still, and I needed to shift my legs and arch my back. That was the hardest part, so I brought a sheepskin to lie on for the following treatments.
This is the future of medicine; early detection, prediction, prevention and robotics. Biotechnology can manipulate our bodies and cure tumors but it cannot replace the need for human contact and healing touch. Making a relationship, a healing connection with the people in whose hands you place your life is the difference between healing and curing. Healers will touch your soul, help you hear your music and participate in the dance to health at your side.