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Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/14/2005 2:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi everyone, I'm interested in hearing about experiences with radiation therapy. I will begin Sept. 26 for four weeks of radiation on the left side of my chest and I'm a little unsettled about it.
 
My oncologist said to expect a sunburn like reaction on the site that is radiated and that after a couple of weeks it can produce fatigue and maybe some scarring on my left lung.  Hum, that's helpful, what the heck is it really like??
 
As I did with my first chemo I'm working myself up into a lather worrying if I can stand the treatment.
 
Help! I'm scared.
 
sad
Donna

Tavish
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 9/14/2005 3:34 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Donna-
Just like your onc said....but just like chemo, we all have different reactions. I found the whole experience to be a breeze compared to chemo. I had a 7:15 am appointment and went right to work afterwards. The radiation part is easy, 2 zaps and go get dressed. After about the 3rd treatment, I noticed the breast became tender. Even 5 years later, there is tenderness and firmness. But my skin turned pink and that is about it! I was allowed to use ivory soap in the shower, and applied deodarant after the treatment. I also used aloe Fruit of the Earth gel for moisture. I had no real fatigue, no burning, no scarring, no other problems....

As for the damage to the lung, the rad onc will plan and map it carefully to avoid as much of the lung as possible. I was told that in my case, the amount of the lung to get hit would be minimal.

Hopefully your experience will be pretty good too.

The anticipation of the treatment is probably worse than the treatment itself...
hang in there!
Lori


Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/14/2005 3:55 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Lori, thanks for responding to me so quickly! Good to know that things went well for you, I'm hopeful that things go as well for me. I'm sure you're right about me anticipating it being awful.

Do you know how they protect the heart and minimize the damage to the lung?

Donna

JUJU8872
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 349
   Posted 9/14/2005 3:58 PM (GMT -7)   

I just finished 7 weeks of rad. As Tavish said, it is a breeze compared to chemo. I had no fatigue, but I did have some burning. My rad onc does this intentionally. Towards the end it was uncomfortable, not painful. I used something she recommended. It is expensive -- Glucan Cream and I have now started on the Glucan Pro.I am already peeling as in a bad sunburn. I do not know about scarring, but they said my skin was "great". With that burn, I would hate to see bad skin.

Be sure to use the products your onc recommends and try not to worry. As Tavish Said, everyone is different.

JUJU


Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/14/2005 4:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks JUJU, I'll ask about the Glucan. Good to hear you had no fatique, that was a big one for me.

hugs and good wishes,
Donna

JUJU8872
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 349
   Posted 9/14/2005 4:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Oops, I forgot a strange thing that has happened. I have had some throat, jaw and EAR pain with the radiation, starting around week 4. The ear has been quite painful. I mentioned it to the rad onc and she said it was referrential pain from my throat -- she also got a little of my esophagas. I did not really believe her. I finished my rads 2 days ago -- on Monday. I promise you, the ear pain had diminished by Tuesday night -- can you believe that!!

JUJU

Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/14/2005 4:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Wow, did they give you anything for the pain? Was it like you get with a bad cold and infection??

I guess I hadn't thought about the esophagas, but stands to reason that it would be affected doesn't it.

Well, good information to have.

Thanks.

Donna

JUJU8872
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 349
   Posted 9/14/2005 4:14 PM (GMT -7)   
The pain was managable for me, but one time I did take half a Lortab -- I do not do well with pain meds. For the most part, I used Tylenol every 4 hours. The throat pain is like sinus draining, but far more dry. The jaw hurt to chew and the ear was a combo of swimmers ear and real ear pain. Just watch out for it and mention it to you onc if it happens.

JUJU

Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/14/2005 4:15 PM (GMT -7)   
Okay, thanks!

Donna

Tavish
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 9/14/2005 5:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Donna-
I asked my rad onc about how he chose that field of medicine, and he said that he liked it for its combination of art and science. The rad onc carefully maps out the area to be treated, and that is part of the art, to avoid the lung and heart as much as possible.

Juju's experience with jaw pain is unusual, please don't expect that for you! And for me, with negative nodes, I had a square area covering my breast that turned pink. Just a square, no neck, nothing that showed. That will depend on the area and extent of the cancer as to where they radiate.

Some people get fatigue. I was able to work full time (not physical work though), and took care of my home and yard, all my regular responsibilities. Listen to your body though if you need rest. I tend to not rest when I need it, so my example may not be the best.
Lori


MNlady13
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2044
   Posted 9/15/2005 8:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Donna, it's been nine years since I had rad treatments but I still remember. I got really tired. I had a five minute trip from work, and sometimes would go back afterwards, but more often than not went home and napped. My skin took it pretty hard, however I got through all the treatments without stopping. Like Lori said, aloe vera gel is good for the skin. Cordaid and Aquaphor also helpped when my skin broke down and peeled. I also found my skin got very sensative -- and has remained so over all the years. I got a soft cotton bra with no underwire from Target to wear during radiation. At home, I shed the bra and just wore a t-shirt to give my skin some relief. Since I did not have chemo, I cannot compare the two experiences, but radiation is doable, too. Good luck. It will be over before you know it. Hugs, Lauri
"Go confidently into the direction of your dreams. Live the life you always imagined" Thoreau
 
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/15/2005 2:27 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks everyone! I'm so happy to have you guys to talk to.

Bernadette you asked why I had a mastectomy -- I deceided that was my best chance for a cure. My cancer was deemed "very aggressive" and I did have it in my lymph system. I hoped that the mastectomy and chemo would take care of it. Unfortunately I did get a recurrence but still hope that this cycle of chemo and radiation will be the last of it.

As for about me - I'm having my 58th birthday Sunday. I am married to the love of my life and have 3 children - 2 step children and a cat named Bob. I work every day that I can and am looking forward to being completely healed!!

I live in a suburb of Denver. Had my first diagnosis in July 2004 and my second June of 2005. It seems like I've been bald forever - two chemo treatments is plenty for me. My hair did fall out on the 16 day and that's exactly when the oncologist said it would. I had A/C the first time no radiation and Taxol the 2nd time with 4 weeks of radiation coming up.

I love having so many people to do a reality check with. Sometimes I think that I only hear select things at the oncologist's or I'm so worked up that I forget, either way it's good to talk about it and have so many people with so much experience.

Lori I appreciate what you're saying -- thanks!

hugs and best wishes,
Donna

babyseeester
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 826
   Posted 9/18/2005 10:10 AM (GMT -7)   
Donna,
 
I had 7 weeks of rads and it was a breeze.  I am very fair skinned and expected to get really burned, but just experienced some slight redness.  It got worse the last week, which is the 'boost' week.  It never got to the point of peeling, though.  I used 100% aloe vera gel and lotion after the treatments.  I did not experience any fatigue, either.  I had 3 fields of treatment.  I had a mastectomy and 1 lymph involved.  I think the side effects are a little different when treating a breast versus the chest wall.  My one field of treatment went up to my neck area to cover some lymph nodes.  It was very easy to do.  You will be fine.
L & H,
Kathy


Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/19/2005 9:55 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for the good news Kathy! By fields does that mean area covered?? My onco has me down for left full chest is that one field?

hugs from Denver,
Donna

grammy
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2004
Total Posts : 340
   Posted 9/19/2005 1:07 PM (GMT -7)   
DonnaA
Hope your feeling well. When I did my rads they had me use a powder called soothe & cool( has cornstarch in it ) I just went in to the bathroom as often as I could and spinkled some all over the breast. they said it was important to keep the breast dry and that was what the powder was for. It worked very well and I only used lotion at the very end when I got the dry feeling like you get after you have had a sunburn, even though I did not burn. My best to you. Its almost over.
Donna

Donna A
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 9/19/2005 1:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Donna, I'm glad to get the good reports about radiation. I've been scared and they help.

hugs from Denver,
Donna A

debbiR
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 730
   Posted 9/20/2005 7:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Donna! I hated the radiation. Not the treatment itself. It actually took longer to get undressed and into the gown that it did to have the treatment itself. My problems came after the treatments were completed. I was burned badly and my rad onco didn't do anything to help. I finally had to go to my onco and she helped me. That was the only time that I had to take pain meds. I used the powder w/ cornstarch also. But the one thing that seemed to help more than anything was a gel pack. They are small and can be reused. You put them in the fridge and then when your skin feels hot or uncomfortable, you just place them on that particular area. Towards the end of my treatments I went to the ER and got more as my rad onco didn't have any. I also was tired and would take a nap afterwards. My skin in the chest area and on my neck looked like I had a good tan for several years. As for the scar tissue, that does happen. I am fortunate enough to have a manipulative therapist that can loosen the tissue when it begins to hurt. The main thing is just keep an eye on your skin. Treat it carefully. And as someone else said, listen to your body.
 
BTW...Happy Birthday (not sure if I am late or early)
 
Hugs...Deb
 

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