I remember laboring over my career fair project when I was in the eighth grade. If I was going to spend months researching and designing a presentation, I had to be really sure about my choice. It appears I may have been a commitment phobe even then. I finally decided on becoming an actress, it narrowly won out over lawyer. And mostly because I thought the display board for an actress had more possibility in terms of color and design. I spent a considerable amount of time and energy researching my new found passion and designing my trifold board. It was exciting, because I worked on it at my friend Aimee’s house and she had a fancy color printer at the time. Evidently they were a hot commodity and I eventually got one my freshman year of high school. Despite my once passion for acting, I have never really graced anyone with my acting talents. In fact I have very little stage presence. Although, I could probably argue that my actual career as a teacher certainly qualifies me as an entertainer. But alas, I digress. What does any of this have to do with radiation? In my mind radiation is a lot like being on a set for Cold Case.
I received the casting call when Brentuximab failed me. Dr. Z and Dr. J felt it was time I gave radiation a shot and got me in touch with Dr. G. Our first consultation was a quick read through, to make sure we were both on the same page and knew what to expect from the process. They even took my photo, which now pops up on the screen at every shooting. I must admit that I was less than impressed with my headshot, because they took it while I was in my costume johnny. Regardless, I survived the consultation and audition, where they fitted me for the part. I even got a call back for a second audition, because Dr. G felt that he may want to see me in a variety of positions that could lessen the impact of the radiation field. It took a week to hear back, but I got the part and was going to start on Monday, November 24th. Jorge called with my schedule, which like most jobs was not at my convenience. He explained that due to my complex role, I would be using both sets (radiation machines) which made scheduling nearly impossible.
I arrived on set on Monday and was immediately ushered into wardrobe before getting into my role. The first set was a large room in the front of the building. For the start of filming they took a large quantity of film (x-rays) to ensure that everything was operational. I was all lined up, according to my blue ink, and ready for shooting. Everyday would be the same, precision measurements were necessary. I like to think of it as my personal combination (1, 3, 0.4,91.7) and for my episode of Cold Case, I will think of it as the case file number. The machine opens and makes a shutter like sound before the rays penetrate the areas it is programmed to pinpoint. I laid there as still as possible as I was directed. Once I am finished with set one, I am brought down the hall to set two which is cold and much more cramped. It appears that my character must have been taken and held in the cold room, with clouds painted on the ceiling. It is here that I am repositioned on the table and my feet are banded together so they don’t move and my hands tucked under. I lay still with my head tipped back and the table moves into an enclosed space where the fans are loud and a muffled sound of footsteps, come in and out of focus. It sounds like horses are trampling in and out of the scene. It only last about ten minutes. You can see where my imagination runs wild, can’t you? And then I’m done filming for the day.
Without the in between wait time and prep, the whole process only lasts about 20 minutes for both machines. And yet I loathe it. It is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Good thing it is a short gig. Shooting ends after twenty sessions on December 23rd. Let’s hope this episode is a success and the discomfort of it all is not for nothing. I personally feel like my character should be wearing a t-shirt with Taylor Swift’s latest lyrics “I’m a nightmare, dressed like a daydream”. Sometimes I sort of feel that way. This past week has really been the first in the nine month stretch that I actually feel like I have cancer, but that too shall pass. And it may slow me down, but it will only be temporary. After all, the show must go on!