For those who don’t know, let me briefly explain that one of the more thrilling elements of each session of proton therapy for prostate cancer is the insertion of a special saline-filled balloon into the orifice where the sun don’t shine. Its purpose is to stabilize the prostate during radiation, and after each treatment it is removed until next time. In, then out. In, out. 39 times for me and most guys, more or less for some others. While the physical sensation of this is often discussed, the psychological aspect has been largely ignored.
… each time you take to the slab, the elephant in the room is the balloon. Although it is certainly a badge of honor you will later and forever wear with pride, at that moment in the gantry you’d really rather not think about it. But you have to, right? Wrong!
My fellow proton veterans and I are uniquely qualified and yes, even have a responsibility to provide some much needed advice about this to our present and future balloon brothers. We’ve experienced and know that each time you take to the slab, the elephant in the room is the balloon. Although it is certainly a badge of honor you will later and forever wear with pride, at that moment in the gantry you’d really rather not think about it. But you have to, right? Wrong! There are some very effective mind tricks you can use to transport yourself to happy places full of sunshine and rainbows.
Here’s one approach:
Instead of trying not to think about the elephant in the room, just go ahead and allow yourself to think about an elephant. Where do you find elephants? Why of course, they can be found in places associated with fond memories and good times. Who doesn’t warmly remember those trips to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, or even your high school wing man and the pretty girl from your advanced placement history class? Or maybe your favorite elephant memory is being at the circus, munching popcorn and peanuts, tossing a few into the center ring as the train of costumed elephants slowly circles past you, each one winking that special wink in your direction as they pass your front row seat. Perhaps your elephant fantasy is more serious; maybe your Bucket List includes riding on elephant-back in a safari trekking through Northeast India on a dangerous expedition, just like the great Maharajahs did in days gone by. Imagine that!
See? Just as we have so easily strayed off the topic of the balloon here, your mind will have moved from the gantry to other settings. Before you know it you’ll be off the table and on your way to the dressing room, cracking the time-tested joke of “no more lubricant left” to the next guy entering the gantry.
And a few more:
On the slab, you can be whoever you want to be, and the balloon can be whatever you need it to be as a prop to fulfill your fantasy. Imagine…
Here’s another technique that works well, especially if you’re kind of a tough guy, or maybe just fancy yourself as one. On the slab, you can be whoever you want to be, and the balloon can be whatever you need it to be as a prop to fulfill your fantasy. Imagine that you are prepping for your next secret spy mission, transporting critical intelligence to allies in urgent need of your help to save the human race from aliens. Or you could be getting ready to smuggle illegal drugs through dangerous international customs check points. Maybe you are a new-age astronaut being outfitted to pioneer a cutting edge self-propulsion technology allowing you to blast off high into the stratosphere without a vehicle, under the power of your own internalized jet pack. And KABOOM! Again, you are no longer thinking about the balloon.
These are just a few suggestions to start the conversation. If you are a fellow proton veteran it is your moral obligation to share your additional creative ideas with guys currently in or soon to enter the daily balloon brigade. Please take a minute to send me your suggestions for a follow-up post. What did you think about during balloon-time that helped you beat the balloon?