Monday 11 September 2023

Making My Mask or Shell

Today I went to the Royal Marsden in Sutton to have my shell made for my Radiotherapy Treatments these are also known as masks or moulds 

The process of making a mask can vary slightly between hospitals. Most often they use a special kind of plastic heated in warm water or an oven so that it becomes soft and pliable.

The technicians puts the plastic mesh on to your face so that it moulds to fit your face exactly. It feels a little like having a warm flannel put onto your face. You can still breathe easily, as the plastic has lots of holes in it and they form a hole for your mouth as well.

The technicians use their hands to stretch and form the plastic mesh, and they work it until they can snap it into the sockets formed in the table such that it will hold you in place each time you have a treatment. 

Once the mask is sufficiently hard they will remove it from your face.  

The technicians told me about the procedure of a mask being fitted and how it would be moulded to the shape of my face. These lovely ladies put my mind at ease and talked me through the whole process of heating the mask blank and then moulding it around my face, It's not an uncomfortable thing at all to go through.

These lovely ladies are very skilled at what they do and are very caring and talk you through the whole process to keep you informed and calm.  

In the photo above you can see the locating clips by my shoulder and neck and at the top of my head. The locating clips repeat at the neck and shoulders on the other side of my face. You do have to stay like that for a little while as the mask hardens enough so they can remove it and it retains your form 

They bring you back a day or two later do a CT scan and place marks on the mask to line up the machine each time you have treatment. 

The mask keeps you head still and makes sure that your treatment is directed at the cancer. They put your name on the mask and keep it in a sack in the radiotherapy department ready for your treatment.

At the end of my 5 weeks and 25 sessions of treatment, I was asked if I would like to have the shell / mask. I'm going to mount it on the wall at the allotment and hope that a bird takes up residence via the mouth and builds a nest in it. 

I tried the glasses on the mask to see if it really looked like me.   

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