• Getting closer to radiation - what is it like?

    Asked by HearMeRoar on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Getting closer to radiation - what is it like?

    I need 6 weeks of rads - there will be multiple spots radiated (is that a word?). Including under the arm... I had two tiny tumors and three positive nodes. If you had similar treatment can you tell me what to expect? Offer any advice?

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I had radiation twice in my life to the same area, usually that doesn't happen. Both times, I can say that I didn't feel anything, oddly one time I swear I smelled something. But it's a quick procedure, takes longer to take my shirt off and get strapped down to the table. For me, they strapped my head down with one of those radiation masks. For you, I doubt it, simple in and out thing. The side effects build up over the first two or three weeks, then I started getting droopy, needed a nap. 4 and 5 weeks in, I was very brown, to almost black in that area, like a severe suntan on steroids. My mouth was hit, so I lost all my teeth, and am in the process of having them removed and dentures put in.

      As always, your results may vary, but all in all, it's easier than chemo.

      over 7 years ago
    • cris' Avatar

      Today is my 19th day of radiation & still have sometime to go, it's really easy you don't feel anything, today I started getting burnt under my breast & under my arm, but they gave me creme to use & it's working, I have been getting tired in the middle of the day so I take a little nap. The only thing that is tiring is driving everyday to the center, but it's doable. I also go to occupational therapy 3 days a week right after my radiation appointment, so that tires me out also. good luck to you & let us know how it goes...

      over 7 years ago
    • Giraffe's Avatar

      I was scheduled for 33 treatments of radiation. I have six more to go.
      I did not find radiation hard. Th center I go to is very accommodating. The people and my Dr. are wonderful. I did just an experience a burn that was sore. A special creme that helped with the burn.

      over 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had 3 "fields" radiated....counting signing into the clinic, I generally wasn't even there for 1/2 hour and that included changing clothes etc. ....wear 2 piece outfits so you only have to take your top off.....if you have hear, wear button down tops rather than pull over so you don't mess your hair up.....I was told no deoderant so I used cornstarch (the type you find at the grocery section)...if your skin gets pink or itchy (mind did) talk to the nurse and find out what cremes you can use.....fatigue is cumulative....not much in the beginning....so allow yourself time to rest/relax everyday...it goes away about 2 weeks post rads.....I worked during rads and drove myself to rads, so it is very doable....my DH came to appt when I saw the rad onc each week....I had chemo prior to rads and rads was definitely a walk in the park compared to chemo.....wishing you an easy time....

      over 7 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Everyone's expedience is different. I was exhausted by my radiation treatment, others have been able to go to work every day after their sessions. I experienced burning around the site radiated. The radiology nurses gave me hydrophore (similar to aquaphore) to apply to the area after each sessions and several times a day, which helped a lot. (do not apply for at least 4 hours before treatment). I also had issues with wearing a bra after about 2 weeks. I was advised by the nurses to wear camis with a bit a Lycra which helped with the pain and gave me a bit of support. I also bought 2 mastectomy bras which were very comfortable and gave me some more support (I wear a DD).

      Before treatment starts you will get tats, small dots, to help them place you on the machine correctly. The treatment itself takes about 5 min - you spend most of your time waiting to be called, undressing, get positioned and get dressed again. Once a week you will see your radiation oncologist for a check up and progress report.

      The technicians and nurses are great resources. Don't be afraid to ask them questions.

      over 7 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      It's early yet but I would start using lotion now on all the areas to be radiated. I started using it a couple weeks before radiation and I think it helped to go into it with soft, healthy skin. Can't hurt.

      over 7 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      I had 7 weeks of rads and it was ok, but made me tired. I never burned at all and am the Nordic type; don't count on being burned, it doesn't happen to everyone. Good luck!

      over 7 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I had 7 weeks of Radiation - 5 days a week for a total of 35. I went early at 8 AM and was out of there by 8:30. There was no discomfort during session -- the Tech was absolutely wonderful and became my "special angel". I did have cumulative fatigue so afternoon naps were the norm.
      I have very fair skin and have always been susceptible to sunburn, etc. So, I did burn under my arm whereas I had to take a week off to heal. They gave me Silverdene Cream which worked well. Also, I would let a fan blow directly on that area which helped the healing. Since I was still very numb under that arm, I never felt a thing. Everyone is different and I think the people who get burns are actually the minority. You will do fine. Keep us updated.

      over 7 years ago
    • Kossmore's Avatar

      They make a pillow mold of your body which takes an hour of laying on a table with the area to be radiated uncovered. When you first lay down get into as comfortable of a position as possible, you will not be allowed to move until the mold is finished. Your arms are over your head. The technicians take photos of the area and draw lines or dots on your chest with a permanent marker. They tell you not to wash off the marker; they need it for the next treatment. The doctor comes in to check everything several times during this process.

      The medical people go outside of the room during the actual treatment while you lay in the mold uncovered. You are on camera the entire time and they can talk to you and you can also answer them back. There are other people wandering outside the room close to the camera and monitor and they can see you on the monitor if they look closely.

      If you are at all squeamish about your makes body you need to work on getting past it. Hugs and prayers for you quick and complete recovery.

      over 7 years ago
    • PaulineJ's Avatar

      I agree with everyones comments.The only thing I have to add is where I went they immediately started us on Aquaphor Healing ointment the first week which does wonder to help you along
      75 % - 99%
      I had a lump and 6 out of 8 lymp nodes taken out from 2 surgeries.(Stage 2)
      My oncology told me a couple of weeks ago that it would be another 6 months to heal.I had my first surgery in July and the second one in August of 2012.Maybe 2-4 weeks apart.And started radiation in Oct.to Dec., 6 weeks all together.Now I'm on Arimidex since Sept 2012-October 2012 for 5 years which I find more disturbing for me anyway.I've had lots of medical problems before starting this Arimidex,but now I don't know what's causing what,because I seem to have more and pains esculating .But everybody is different,so don't go by what I explained to you.Just wanted to let you know the experiences I had/have.

      over 7 years ago
    • Ladykarla's Avatar

      Here is my story. I hope it helps you. I just finished radiation. 33 treatments with 5 of those being on the scar. I met my radiation doctor and he explained everything. I then was laid out on the radiation table and a type of base was molded underneath my head and shoulders. After which the techs marked the area to be radiated (chest area) using a surgical pen and a sharpie. The base will be used for every radiation treatment. Big big no no: use nothing on your skin. Most deodorants contain aluminum. I cannot stress this enough. Do not use anything on your skin without asking your techs. No question is too small. When you get to your appointment you will change into (my case) two gowns. One open in the front and one worn the regular way. This gives you a professional coverage so you can sit in the patient waiting room and talk to your new friends. I wore fun sun dresses with shorts underneath because only the chest area needed to be uncovered during radiation. It also depended on the soreness under my arm. I wore huge T-shirts sometimes. The techs would remove the front gown and lay me on the table with the backwards gown on. They would use this gown to slide me around to get me in the exact position. Clever huh? The lights were always dim and it was oh so peaceful. They would step out for the procedures. The machine made a soft whirring noise and that was it. One of them would help me off the table and away I went. My radiation oncologist would see me once or twice a week and his nurse was always there to help me if I needed anything. I got pink around three weeks and we started the creams. We used two. One for the sore area and one for the rest of the area. Special Care cream and Regenecare (it had lidocaine in it). They worked wonderfully. After my last treatment, I was told to keep the cream on for the next two weeks. I go back to see the radiation oncologist in a month for a final check up and then I move on to the plastic surgeon. I did get very tired. The doctor told me it was completely normal. The American Cancer Society folks took me to my treatments every day for free. No income limit. It was so nice not to have to drive myself.

      over 7 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      It is interesting to read how different each of our experiences has been. Surgery and radiation were so much easier than chemo that I had no reason to complain about them--other than the fact that I needed them because I have cancer, of course. With that said, I wonder if my having radiation while positioned on my stomach made the significant difference. I haven't heard too many other people talk about having it this way. My rad onc told me it was in part because I am large breasted that he could do it this way, but I avoided some of the side effects of radiation hitting the underlying organs/tissue. It did take much longer to do the initial measurements/positioning, and it took longer to position me each time than during the last 5 treatments when I laid on my back, but it still went smooth and I was in an out in less than 30 minutes, and that was counting undressing, waiting, positioning, the 1 minute of radiation, and then redressing and out the door. I live 10-15 minutes away from the clinic so most of the time it was less than an hour to get from home and back.
      The clinic did give me something called radiogel (with aloe) to use two-three times a day on the affected breast as soon as I started rad. It seemed to help and keep the tissue soft. About two weeks into treatment, the Rad Onc told me I could use 10% hydrocortisone cream on the affected breast to help with itching so I did and it did help.
      I got red within the first week of treatment but it didn't blister until treatment # 26 (week 6). and then I switched to laying on my back for the last 5 "boost " treatments and they didn't cause any more blisters. The clinic gave me something called Mepilex to put over the blisters and they healed within a couple weeks. I didn't experience any of the tiredness that some people describe.
      I hope you do well. Just having chemo over with lifts a big load off of you. My last chemo was the end of Dec. 2012 and I still feel like I am recovering from it.

      over 7 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      Don't sweat it. You will feel nothing and it will be quick avg time 10mins to 30mins depending on what they are doing each time. I felt great all the way through until the very last week (did 28rads). There is cumulative fatique, but it never really got me. I made sure to exercise all the way through it. At the very end, in the last 3-4 rads, burns started to come out, blistering, etc. I got great advice from my rad onc and nurses and got silvadene, and some medicated pads to protect the areas. Never got infected or anything. Just use aquaphor every day after rad (you'll have to wash it off for the treatment) it will keep the skin moist and protect it. I didn't take that advice and I think that is why I got more of the burning. But, my rad onc said he wanted to see some of that because he was going after the scar and lymph areas from the mastectomy. Came through fine within one week after burns appeared they were healed up very nicely. I still have to put moisterizeron the skin in those areas and I'm making sure to use 30 spf sunscreen too.
      Mine ended last October and I still feel a few pings especially under the arm. I had a larger tumor and 1 lymph and then some little spots in other areas so I got the mastectomy. You will do well, I'm sure.

      over 7 years ago
    • grammy's Avatar

      Everything everyone has said is helpful. Radiation is a walk in the park after chemo. I worked every day and then drove 40 min. for radiation and 40 min. home. A couple of hints my radiologist told me that might help are: eat an apple every day, dry very well under breasts after shower even using a hair dryer on low heat, keep walking and don't give in to tiredness. That doesn't mean don't rest when you need to, but do stay active to keep your energy up. Use the cream they give you also. You will do fine. Good luck.

      over 7 years ago

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