• Is radiation right for me?

    Asked by Samantha1964 on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Is radiation right for me?

    I had both breast removed, 6 of 16 lymthnodes had cancer. After surgery I had a full bone scan and pelvis scan, there are no cancer cells detected anywhere. I am going through chemo now. I dont understand why do radiation, radiation kills tissue. I can't have breast reconst done until 6 mths after radiation, then might need skin graphs because of the damage to the tissue from radiation. I am debating if radiation is really necessary if there is nothing to kill. If the dr's are just taking a guess that it might help, why do it. Our body is made to heal itself but when we choose to kill tissue, there is no way our body can repair something we killed. I hope I'm makin since of all this. Just wondering if anyone else has deal with what to do, what is right, what is best???

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Well I do think there is a bit of a hole in your logic. A mastectomy kills tissue by removing it, and you are right, you are not going to regrow a breast.. Radiation kills cancer cells by disrupting their DNA. The skin graphs are needed for reconstruction, whether or not you have radiation. You are planning to have reconstruction because you had your breasts removed, not because you did or did not have radiation.

      As somebody who had a bilateral mastectomy, medically necessary skin and tissue transplant, chemotherapy, and radiation, I'm here to tell you the easiest and least invasive of all of that was radiation. And all of it....the surgery, the chemo, and the radiation....are just a guess that it might help and it usually does. So why opt out of the easiest and least invasive of all of that help?

      almost 9 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I cant d say if it's right for you. But here is what happened to me. My first round with hodgkins 24 years ago, I had chemo and radiation. I was suppose to have 30 radiatiion treatments but they were stopped early, because I was supposedly cured, didn't need any more. 6 months later it came back again. Now who's to say why it came back, would the rest of the treatments have stopped it? Radiation is much easier than chemo. Just keep that in mind. '
      Hope you have a easy time of it.

      almost 9 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      If radiation can kill that one little elusive cancer cell that got away -- then -- it would be worth any risk.
      I chose to be aggressive in having a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. I am now on Arimidex for 5 years. I will utilize any weapon available to fight this evil enemy so that I know that I have given it my best. I had some burning from the Radiation so they gave me a week off to heal so that I could finish up. I used Silverdene which worked great. You and your Oncologist should make the decision on what is best for you. Good luck.

      almost 9 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      Radiation does mess with reconstruction. The remaining skin and tissue on that side will never be the same. However.................we have no guarantee that the chemo and surgery have gotten every one of those renegade cells. So I say, ZAP 'EM!

      almost 9 years ago
    • anniebharts' Avatar

      I did not choose to go through breast reconstruction, so can't speak to that. But I wanted to chime in just to encourage you to ask your oncologist this same question - i.e. exactly as you've written it here. Perhaps even just hand her/him a copy of this. It may help your oncologist better understand and speak to your concerns. I've been going through breast cancer treatments of one sort or another for six years, and finally learned this past year to just share with my doctor my confusion and/or concerns about recommended treatments (sometimes in written form) - regardless of how clueless or doubting I may sound. And regardless of how many times we've already gone over something. You deserve to have a clear sense of the relative gains and costs of undergoing radiation before deciding to go through with it.

      almost 9 years ago
    • MaryMoo's Avatar

      I had a mastectomy followed by chemo then radiation then reconstruction. You need to ask about the margins taken during the mastectomy. Clean margins means they saw no cancer cellos in the tissue they scraped off your chest wall after they removed the breast. My doctor thought we had clean margins but the detailed exam done by the pathology lab showed very minor traces. My doc (god bless him) took my slides to 3 different tumor boards to get their advice. All three said they did not "strongly" recommend radiation but they could not say it was uncalled for. In the end, I decided to do radiation to be 100% sure we got it all. My case was complicated because I had a tissue expander. We inflated it over the course of chemo then deflated for radiation. We got it partially reinflated after radiation (over 4 weeks) and then did the reconstruction. It definitely complicates the reconstruction but the best plastic surgeons can do it. My reconstructed breast is smaller than my other breast (A cup vs B cup). I was very aggressive during radiation to counter all the side effects as much as possible. I tried to get rid of absolutely ALL stress. Hard to do with a teenager in the house. I hired a yoga coach and every day after radiation, we did Xi Gong (also called chi Kung or sha gong). The Chinese have used this for 5000 years and still do to balance energy. The. We did yoga and meditated. I am very fair skinned and never burned from 30 radiation treatments. My radiation oncologist had never seen such good results. I think this was a key to my successful reconstruction surgery. My advice is to ask your doctors a lot of questions. They should have a good scientific basis for recommending radiation. I don't regret radiation but I will never know for sure if I really needed it since none of the tumor boards said they strongly recommended. I feel good knowing I did everything I could. Good luck.

      almost 9 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Hi Samantha---the first time I had breast cancer (DCIS), I had lumpectomy, radiation and tamoxifen for 5 years--the whole enchilada. Nine years later, I got more DCIS and IDC in the same radiated breast, resulting in bilateral mastectomy (so far) and chemo + lots of Herceptin to come. Was the radiation nine years ago worth it? I say quite heartily YES! because if I hadn't done everything I could to prevent it from recurring, I would be furious at myself now.

      So how do I feel now--having cancer a second time, even after having radiation? Well, I'm sure not mad at MYSELF~ I am mad at stinkin' cancer--it wasn't my "fault" it recurred. I'm glad I gave it XXX last time, and I plan to do just the same, this time. I am jumping into chemo with both feet, screaming at the top of my lungs--turning all of my energy into fighting this insidious disease, shoving it back with all that I've got to battle it! There is NO OTHER WAY I would be able to live with myself--just kinda sorta "hoping" I'd done enough...

      You are surely entitled to your opinion....but this is how I am dealing with my cancer. Good luck with your decision.

      almost 9 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Oh, one more thing...remember the choice that Steve Jobs made? Hmmmm. I rest my case! Good luck!

      almost 9 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      Knowing I did everything possible to live was more important than any timeline.

      almost 9 years ago
    • Samantha1964's Avatar

      Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I talked to my oncologist today, she assured me that the radiation was necessary since I had stage 3 cancer. (Althought it has been removed) She also explaind that yes the radition kills tissue, but our body will make new tissue (I was thinking it wouldn't so that helped me a little)
      My concern doesn't have anything to do with the inconvenience of the 35 treatments or any kind of timeline and I haven't even considered the cost...... My concern is WILL RADIATION cause cancer??? I realize I won't get a "warranty or guarantee" when all of this is over. But I don't want to do ANYTHING to my body if I KNOW that it will cause cancer.
      Oh how I wish God would answer this post.....But thank you again for your wisdom & advice.

      almost 9 years ago

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