“Do we want more kids?”

Easter 1986

Eventually all the tests were complete and the results were in. I was told I needed radiotherapy which would require six weeks of treatment at Cookridge Hospital. Considering where I lived, it was suggested that I stay in hospital Monday to Friday each week and go home at the weekend. That way they said, I wouldn’t have to endure a seventy-mile round trip in ‘Ye Olde’ ambulance.

Easter was looming close and they wanted to start my treatment before the break. The radiotherapy planning was a slow process, involving many more x-rays and scans. I also had eight little tattoos marked on my body so they could accurately line me up on the linear accelerator each time I had my treatment.

I didn’t ask many questions in those days, I assumed they would tell me everything I needed to know. One radiotherapy technician even told me I would be having 50 Grays of radiation or in other words 50,000 sMv’s. Yeah I know,………….. I had to ask him:

Me: Is that a lot of radiation?

Radiotherapist: It’s the equivalent of about 500,000 normal chest X-rays.

Me: A lot then?!!!

Unfortunately I was soon to learn it’s a risky business taking a passive role. Finally they announced my treatment could start. Summoned from the ward, I made my way through the many corridors to the radiotherapy suite. I still remember the weird smell inside the linear accelerator room as I undressed and put on a theatre gown. Once I was positioned on the radiation machine everyone vacated the room.  I felt very alone as I wondered what this invisible treatment would be like and whether or not I would feel any pain. All of a sudden a doctor burst into the room.

Doctor: “You do have two children, right?”

Me: “Er, yes I do” Wondering if he was about to suggest they join me!

Doctor: “Do you want any more?”

Me: “Er, why?” Could he not see I was too busy for that sort of thing right now.

It was a really weird situation. I was lying on my back trying to psyche myself up for the treatment and some guy wanted to know about my five-year plan! He came close enough for me to finally see him.

Doctor: “Unfortunately the inverted-Y radiotherapy you’ve been prescribed will almost definitely leave you sterile and unable to have any more children”

After what seemed an uncomfortably long pause.

Me: “Can I discuss it with my wife?”

At that, he aborted my treatment and suggested I call my wife that day.

It could have been a really difficult call to make, however considering we’d just had our second child ten weeks earlier we both agreed having more children wasn’t high enough on our agenda right now to risk compromising my treatment. I would have my first treatment that evening.

The content in my blog is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a health care professionals advice. Please consult your own appropriate health care provider about the applicability of any of my opinions with respect to your own symptoms or medical conditions. The information in my blog does not constitute legal or technical advice….sorry!


4 Responses to “Do we want more kids?”

  1. How did it affect you? Are you and you wife happy with two?
    I was asked the same question! My husband will be 80 this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Natasha Moffatt says:

    A beautifully written account. I’ve never known cartoons to be so expressive and the humorous slant despite the trauma makes for compelling reading….I’ve read all the blogs this evening and could read more. Keep it going Bruce – you clearly have a lot to offer the world of oncology. x


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