“Our patients come in for treatments ranging from one or two sessions to regular visits over six weeks. We have several doctors dealing with them, plus social workers and even dietitians: a whole team providing support.”
My job has two roles: I teach at London South Bank University and work as a practitioner at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital. In my clinical work at the hospital I treat people with cancer. This involves the planning and then the accurate delivery of the correct radiotherapy according to the patient's particular condition. First we use CT scans and x-rays to 'localise' the tumour and exactly map its position. Then we provide treatment using highly specialised and extremely accurate machines. These use high energy x-ray beams to destroy the tumour but keep the surrounding tissue healthy. We use different equipment according to the position of the disease: skin cancer, on the surface of the body, needs low energy rays, whilst deep internal organs like the bladder or prostate gland need high energy to get through the layers of tissue.
In the university we teach the students and support them through their placements - the students are both undergraduates and postgraduate. It's a tough course: apart from all the medical knowledge, they need to get their heads around the physics (x-rays and radioactivity) and even maths (how to calculate the doses).
Most of my work takes place in the day clinic. Our patients come in for treatments ranging from one or two sessions to regular visits over six weeks. I discuss their symptoms with them and assess their fitness, as well as the side effects they may be experiencing from the radiography. We have several doctors dealing with them, plus social workers and even dietitians: a whole team providing support.