• In what ways did you make yourself feel more comfortable about undergoing internal radiation therapy and being so exposed on the table?

    Asked by HardyGirl on Friday, April 12, 2013

    In what ways did you make yourself feel more comfortable about undergoing internal radiation therapy and being so exposed on the table?

    I'm just so shy I don't like this.

    9 Answers from the Community

    9 answers
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      My situation was somewhat different than yours but I was not thrilled about lying bare-chested during my radiation treatments. The techs acted very matter-of-fact about it and eventually I minded it less and less because it was my every day routine. I hope your experience is similar.

      over 3 years ago
    • fastdog's Avatar

      I didn't have radiation, but had two very major abdominal surgeries, so I can relate. I just made up my mind, going in, that the health care professionals have seen it all, they are there to do their jobs and help us, not judge us, and I would have to put up with certain indignities. The other thing that helped me was just chatting with the people working on me. For some reason, this helped to take my mind off the indignity I might otherwise experience.

      over 3 years ago
    • Joachima's Avatar

      I am very shy also, but it really wasn't as bad as I imagined it was going to be. I was covered very well with sheets/blankets that felt "weighted" which made me feel more secure, if that makes any sense. My radiation oncologist is a woman and that helped. Once I was positioned, the oncologist and the physicist (also a woman), left the room and communicated if needed through an intercom of some kind. I felt like I was treated with dignity, thanks to a very professional staff.

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      HardyGirl I can't agree with you more. I found radiation the most distasteful of all my treatments. The gender of the techs did not matter I find the act of being denied clothing humiliating.
      It may be overly dramatic but I actually repeated the Lord's Prayer over and over.

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      I asked for an all female staff. That helped me. And I too prayed during every session.

      I really don't like the mindless chatter..so I let them know this upfront,, but i love joking so I would come in a tell a few jokes just to get the mood right and then I would set up my icons, anoint myself with holy oil , staff would pray with me, and lay down and pray. I always hold a cross in my hand during treatments. It gives me peace.

      over 3 years ago
    • SettledSue's Avatar

      I eventually found it amusing that up to about 5 people at different times were all focused on that part of my body. I was especially amazed when at the end of the first treatment someone came in with a Geiger counter and waved it all around me! But the treatments didn't hurt, and I didn't have any side effects afterwards, so on the whole I found them easier to take than chemo.

      over 3 years ago
    • carolynm's Avatar

      I have gone thru 3 surgeries and 3 different radiation treatments. They tried to keep me covered a little as I am very modest. A professional staff helps. I could tell that they had done this many times and their approach to my treatment was clinical. I try to relax and visualize pleasant memories or thoughts, not think about the fact that I am naked. The radiation staff let me bring in music (my Ipod) and that helped to keep my mind occupied. I want to stay alive a little longer and this is the process. A bald head, lying naked on tables, going to the bathroom hooked to an IV stand, constant doctor and dentist appts., all difficulties which I have had to accept. Unfortunately, you and all of us who live with cancer have to suffer these indignities if we want to go on. The platitude that says these things make us stronger is O SO TRUE!

      over 3 years ago
    • Joachima's Avatar

      After reading some of these responses, I want to add that I needed to undress from the waist down only and wore a hospital gown, laid on a stretcher of some kind, was covered completely with blankets, and the only exposure was when the oncologist had to insert the cylinder and position some kind of board. I was less exposed than a gyn exam. It was not comfortable or pleasant, but it was better than what I thought it was going to be. Handygirl, I'm believing that you will be fine and praying that you will relax and focus on health and healing, even when we have to go through the unpleasant things such as this to get there.

      over 3 years ago
    • Ivy's Avatar

      Then first time I had this radiation therapy, the radiologist had not explained it in plain language; instead, somewhat vague language was used. Perhaps my imagination was too limited, but why would a surgeon supply a complete diagram before a hysterectomy, and a radiologist not think a similar preparation is needed? And so I was not prepared as well as I should have been. I wore a hospital gown that didn't close well, and when I went into the radiation "chamber," the nurse pointed to a spot on the metal table and told me to get on the table. The table was a little too tall for me so I asked for a step stool. I was told that they thought they had one somewhere and would find it to use when the procedure was over. So I hauled myself up on the table, with gown flopping open, and with a male tech walking around with the several other people in the room. Then the nurse told me my head needed to be in a different place on the table. So I tried to slide myself up the very narrow table, which had no place to put your hands for more help without the gown falling completely open. Then the radiologist inserted the cylinder and clamped it to the table. (Although technically the cylinder is clamped to the table, since the cylinder is inside the vagina, the vagina is actually clamped to the table.) I felt like the victim in a horror movie. When finally finished with the procedure, I was incredibly angry. Interestingly, the only male in the room, the radiation tech, was the only person who appeared to even notice my distress.

      Afterwards if looks could have killed the doctor and the nurses, they would all be long gone. The next week I called the hospital and asked for a different doctor. At that point the patient representative got involved to resolve the situation. The doctor and the nurses found that they could be much kinder, and they also gave me medication to calm my nerves, supplied the needed foot stool, supplied more assistance in every way, and handled everything thoughtfully for the next radiation sessions.

      Some people may think this was all making a mountain out of a molehill, but it took months to get over the anger of being handled so. We need to trust our doctors through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Even under the best of circumstances these are extraordinarily hard to deal with. So I completely understand how a very modest person might feel, and I hope doctors, both male and female, learn to better anticipate emotional needs of their patients. My specific recommendation for HardyGirl is that you inform your doctor, before your next radiology procedure, that you find this hard to deal with and ask if there is anything that could be done to make it easier for you. You could also ask for a mild sedative or anti-anxiety medication to take prior to the procedure. There is no shame in trying to make all these events less stressful, as the amount of overall stress from cancer diagnosis, staging, and all the types of treatments would harm anybody.

      Good luck, and may all the treatments provide the cure we all hope for. And to any gynecological radiologists who might be reading this--please try harder to treat the whole patient.

      over 3 years ago

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