8-Meet Manny the Mask

27th April 2020

It’s my first visit to the Oncology centre in Cheltenham General Hospital.
Around 20 minutes drive from home. It’s good to get out on the road during the lockdown

I’m being fitted with my mask, which will be used for all the radiotherapy sessions. Met in the reception by a very amiable and likeable chap – Liam. He explains the process to me.

And it’s amazing!..

Today’s session is purely mechanical and analytical. Preparing for the treatment. There’s a CAT scanner which today is just being used for measurement analysis (not diagnosis), a steel bed which is the same dimensions as used for the actual radio LINAC treatment and a very special perforated polymer sheet.

The polymer sheet is soaking in warm water and Liam positions me flat on my back, with between a headrest and what I’d describe as a bum stop. So that fixes my line.

The the pliable polymer sheet is places over my head and shoulders and still being pliable, is fixed by clips to the steel bed. So that will be my X and Y position for all future scans.

But now comes the magic – I have to lay perfectly still for around 15 minutes or so. In this time, as the polymer is cooling, it shrinks completely tight against my head and neck. A bit like vacuum forming, but without the vacuum suction.

Now the radiologist team can place marks on the mask, line it with lasers (these can be seen in the photo) so that I’m perfectly positioned and check against this reference scan, throughout the 30 sessions of radiology that I’ll have.

As the mask will be a companion of mine throughout and a close a copy as of me as anyone could see, it needed a name.

So please let me introduce…

Big Manny – the Mask



10-Pre-fight build-up.

4th May 2020

Not only am I starting treatment earlier than planned, we all get the chance to escape lockdown for an hour or so, with Samros and Nisa being able to ‘take care’ of me, on the drive to Cheltenham. We’ll that’s my excuse to the old bill if we get stopped.

They’re not allowed into the Oncology Unit, but happy to sit in the car and wait. Each session I have is generally around 20 minutes , of which about 3-4 minutes is all required for the main treatment.

Here’s a picture of my main LINAC – named by the hospital as ‘Cherry’.

Personally I’d prefer somthing like ‘Big Lenny the LINAC’, but just pleased to have Ms Cherry on my side.

You can also see Big Manny laying there waiting for me…

I’ll update treatment once or twice a week – not sure much will happen this week – as we just weigh each other up on the 1st round.

Click here for in-depth details of the Gloucestershire Oncology Centre

I also found a great explainer of what a LINAC is and how advanced things are these days.

Enjoy this video – It’s from a clinic in the USA, but exactly the same model as I’ll be treated with.

I just wished w could have dubbed good old Glosser accents into the presenters 🙂