a man with his head sticking out of a very large pink frosted doughnut while a doctor takes notes on her clipboard

Donut of Doom: First Blast

Read the first part of Jim's Donut of Doom odyssey in The Unwelcome Guest: Donut of Doom.

I remember feeling quite apprehensive the day before my radiotherapy treatment was due to begin. I’d been told what to expect, but questions remained: How long would the whole process take, would there be delays, what would the side effects be, how quickly would they kick in, was continuing to work a sensible idea, how much would my dignity suffer?

My body's been through worse, right?

But on the bright side, the Unwelcome Guest had been battered with hormone therapy for almost twelve months and was now about to get an industrial shot of radiotherapy, hopefully giving him all the encouragement needed to check out. What does he think my body is for goodness sake, some sort of anatomical A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌?

Throughout the nineties I traveled the world for ABC News, working out of their London bureau. Inevitably I got into some scrapes as my postings included the first Gulf War and regular jaunts to Sarajevo and Somalia. If I knew I was going on a hazardous assignment I always wanted to get going ASAP. Same with radiotherapy; let’s do this thing.

The unnerving enema question

At 8.30am the next day Mrs. Preen and I arrived at St Thomas’ hospital in central London for my first ride on the Donut of Doom.

Almost immediately I was wrong footed by Rafiq, a straight-talking radiographer, who was keenly interested in the state of my bowels. ‘You look like someone who needs an enema’ he said with disarming frankness.

We had already been told by the Advance Urology Practitioner in our pre-briefing that for treatment to go ahead our bowels must be empty.

I considered the enema question and as my rattled nerves had helped facilitate a massive dump, I told Rafiq that he could take his enema and shove it where the sun don’t shine. No, of course, I didn’t, I smiled sweetly and said I didn’t think I needed it but thanks very much for asking. Rafiq looked unconvinced.

Prepping for the donut of doom

I was then taken to sit with a bunch of old boys who were also waiting to be treated and given 350ml’s of water to drink to swell my bladder to an appropriate size.

Just under an hour later, once the water had drained into my bladder, Rafiq reappeared and showed me into the treatment room where the Donut lay in wait.

Previously, I’d had tattoo crosses placed on either side of my pelvis and just under my belly button, which combined with a laser show, were now used to position me correctly on the Donut’s bench. I’ve subsequently learned from a reader here on ProstateCancer.net that in the US butt prints are used to achieve the same effect. I feel cheated.

Only just the beginning...

A quick scan revealed my bowels and bladder to be empty and full, the bench slid into the center of the donut, and I was off on my first ride.

The machine was quite quiet and had its own in-build disco if patients required music. There was no pain, well perhaps a little caused by a tad too much Beyoncé, but over the coming weeks, once the Donut had done its stuff, a lone figure could often be seen running like hell for the bathroom.

By 10am treatment was done, but Jim’s Donut odyssey had only just begun.

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