Saturday, May 8, 2010

The mask is to follow

We made it down to Cincinnati. It was quite a haul all the way down there. I had never been on the campus of UC before. Ever. We are not going to the Children's Hospital. We are going to University hospital...they treat both the Dayton and Cinci Children's patients at this facility. With a ginormous super expensive radiation machine that is surrounded by 8 feet of concrete on all sides or something like that. There are just a few of these machines, so everybody shares them...adults and kids.
We ended up taking Carly with us and we also ended up being late by the time we found the place, parking garage, registration, etc...I was feeling really bad about it. I despise lateness. But the person who greeted us couldn't have been any nicer. She was waiting for us. And now we have our own parking pass to an outdoor lot and a bar code to scan to get us in and everything should work very smoothly from here on out. (I love little details like that)
Ally met another doctor: Dr Ruth Lavigne. This woman was very kind and very enduring. She hopped right up onto the CT scanner table with Ally and put her right at ease. She was talking to her (not just us) and getting quite a few smiles out of Ally. Thank god when we are very nervous that God chooses to put people like these into our lives. It makes a difference.

The technician and the doctor proceeded to make Ally's mask that will be used for her radiation treatments. They basically started with a warm and wet piece of thick mesh. Ally laid down and they laid it over her face and bolted it right down to the table immediately. It seemed very suffocating to me. I know I would have been uncomfortable with it. But Ally did great. She had to lay perfectly still...not even allowed to talk, and she did! They kept asking her if she was ok to give them a thumbs up. And she kept doing it. Once they got it on her, they fussed around pulling the nose out and the eyes out a little. They put some sensors in different places. They try to avoid letting any radiation hit her eyes. Then we all had to leave the room and they put her back into the tunnel and did a CT scan. This was after about 10 minutes into her having that mask on. After that was done, we were allowed back by her and we just had to talk to her for another five minutes or so while the mask was setting up/drying. God gave her this laid back personality for a reason, because she did great. They finally let her out of the mask and took us on a tour of the facility and her actual radiation room.
Of course, while all this was going on, I said "would you mind if I took a picture? I have a few people who would like to see what this mask looks like?" I really meant a few hundred people! They told me everyone takes pictures, so that made me feel better.

The mask is hard plastic and looks like this:

Here she is when she was bolted down. The lasers are the green lines and help them to line her up perfectly.
When she got done, she had a waffle imprint on her forehead. Not sure if you can see it here. She thought it was funny.
Little sister watched from the sidelines. That is the CT machine in the background, but this is not her radiation machine.
I honestly don't think I would have handled it nearly as well as she did. It all seemed very suffocating to someone put a warm wet hand towel over your face but you still had to breathe. Yuck. Somehow, through this whole process, Ally just knows that she has to do it. She does not ever say no to a health care worker (but sometimes to her Mom and Dad). Once again, and I know I say it all the time, I am proud of her.
We are starting this process on Wednesday. Well, let me back up, she gets her counts done on Monday. She must be 750 to start the next phase. If she is, she gets a spinal tap and a whole days worth of chemo on Tuesday. Then Wednesday it is radiation in Cincinnati...and also chemo (ARA-C) brought to our house by home health care. And pretty much every day thereafter until May 21.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I will reflect upon that later, but I am not a huge fan of the day anymore. Unfortunately for me it is a double edged sword. I am a mother who is fighting to keep her daughter with her. And I am also daughter who has lost her mother. My wish is that noone should have to deal with either of those circumstances, especially at the same time.


  1. Of course, you are proud of Ally...and you should be! I mean, look at those pictures! This little girl is fighting cancer and look at that smile on her face! She is such an inspiration! I, too, would be fighting to get off of that table. I'm a bit claustrophobic!! LOL I will be sending extra prayers your way for the next few weeks. We are looking forward to celebrating with you and Ally on the 22nd!

  2. Janel - Happy Mothers Day!! You are the DEFINITION of a mother!!! And a role model to all - - not just because you're so strong - but because when you don't feel as strong, you're still molding, guiding, supporting and encouraging everyone around you. YOU are a gift. I wish, wish, wish we could be there for Ally's party - - but we'll be there in spirit and our prayers are ALWAYS with you, Ally and all in Ally's Army. Happy Mothers Day!! God Bless You, Jenny

  3. Hope you had a Happy Mother's Day! You are a great mom. We too had Dr. Lavigne for radiation. Since Jackie was not on a study we were able to do radiation in West Chester. We continue to pray for you all. Hope to see you soon! Jackie said to tell Ally that she says, "HI!"
    Hollie Greene

  4. Ally is awesome, and she makes all of us better people. I could see the pattern and it also made me smile. Janel, you are a wonderful mother to all three of your children and you should be very proud of that, I know I am proud of you. Have a great Mother's Day.

  5. I know this is a strange thing to notice with everything else going on, but was so struck by how beautiful Ally is in these pictures! She is really growing up and with that radiant smile is a real stunner through and through. Good luck today and Wednesday, as always you will be in my prayers.
    Oh, and my students want to know if you have any updates on Ally's trip to Wizards?
    Love you!