• Radiation

    Asked by Dees on Sunday, February 21, 2021


    I am terrified about receiving Radiation therapy. I read about all the bad side effects. How was your experience?

    23 Answers from the Community

    23 answers
    • andreacha's Avatar

      I've not had radiation so I can't really intelligently comment on it. However, I'm told that with my new diagnosis that I might have to have some. Those that have experience will chime in eventually and share with you. My suggestion would be not to study your treatment too much. It will most likely upset you more. Everyone reacts differently. I wish you the very best.

      about 1 year ago
    • akristine's Avatar

      I had 30 treatments of radiation for my retroperitoneal liposarcoma. It was centered between 3 dots in a triangle on the left side of my butt. My skin was burned but not badly, more like a sunburn. After each treatment, I went home exhausted. Those were my only side effects. Later, I found out that the radiation went through my body and caused scar tissue in my bladder. I had to urinate more often and drink lots of water. It was necessary to relearn how to walk so the anger in me kept me on my feet until I didn't need the walker any more. No offense but XXX cancer. I'd do it again and kick its XXX again. Good luck!

      about 1 year ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar

      I agree with Andreacha. Don't study online too much. Listen to what your doctors tell you. That said, if you ever feel like something is not right or you have questions- THIS IS YOUR BODY AND YOUR LIFE. Never hesitate to ask questions and educate yourself. If you have a treatment team, and especially a "Nurse Navigator" take full advantage of your team and don't ever feel like you have to have a question unanswered.

      I was supposed to have radiation last year. I had a lumpectomy in late January 2020. My course of treatment took a different path. I really liked the doctor who was supposed to be my radiation oncologist. He was incredibly compassionate.

      Of all of the people I have known who had radiation treatments- especially for breast cancer- most of them say the fatigue is the worst side effect. Toward the end of treatment some of them developed some "Burn" but most said Aquaphor ointment worked quite well for them. I know there are other ointment or things you can use. My proposed radiation oncologist did recommend I go ahead and get some Aquaphor. Some people like Eucerin too. It's pretty similar. I will have to say I do love the Aquaphor for other purposes. Since I could not find my receipt, I could not return the overload of Aquaphor I acquired. About the time I was back in commission to join the world, COVID shutdowns started and no-one would take anything back anyhow. Another friend in the neighborhood ended up having to have radiation treatment for another cancer, and I gave it all to her.

      Another thing I was told was to be sure not to use deodorants or anti-perspirants with aluminum. He recommended some of the Tom's products. They are available in most grocery stores, pharmacies or other retail outlets. I have one a very light tea tree scent and one that was lavender. I think I had one with calendula too. I really liked that one. I got one that was in a blue container that I did NOT like. It just didn't go on smoothly. I think it may have been a mens deodorant, so I don't really know why I bought it. LOL
      I also tried a couple of deodorants by JASON. I liked those too. The radiation oncologist also suggested to buy some soap/cleanser for sensitive skin. Don't use anything too drying. I liked the Dove Sensitive Skin body wash.

      Anyhow, nothing I have said is set in stone- just sharing knowledge that was shared with me.

      about 1 year ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      Sorry to hear of this. Almost everything that you read online is out of date - sometimes decades. A world of knowledge has been gained since the "bad old days." I had total Body Irradiation to kill my marrow in preparation for a transplant. No real side effects at all. The application of radiation is much more targeted these days and dosage is limited to that which is believed to be necessary.

      Contrast radiation to what the cancer will do if not stopped. I have found it to be helpful, during treatment, to always keep this in mind.

      about 1 year ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar

      Oh, my, I'm so sorry that the prospect of radiation is arising such anxiety and fearfulness. It truly is unfounded. Advances in radiation therapy have made it a wonderfully safe and effective treatment. Hypofractionated dosing reduces the number of treatment sessions and better targeting of the beam completely avoids damaging the heart or lungs.

      Any skin burning can be avoided by proper skin care. You'll probably find Aquaphor ointment samples in your radiation therapy waiting/dressing room if you care to use it. I used a locally produced goat milk cream, but common lotions like Jergens will do the trick as well. Just follow the directions of the radiation therapy cream, and you'll likely avoid any skin burning.

      For me, radiation therapy was a cakewalk, over and done with in 20 sessions. Toward the end, I had some fatigue, but never missed a gym workout or my 3 daily walks with my dog. The fatigue took a couple of months to subside, but that's it.

      Radiation therapy is a wonderful component of breast cancer treatment. See if you can embrace it instead of fearing it. My best to you in beating your cancer.

      about 1 year ago
    • omaalyce's Avatar

      1. A good skin cream will help with the dryness of your skin which can result from chemotherapy or radiation.
      2. If you have radiation treatment do not put on any creams in that area before your treatment.
      3. Remember to put cream on both sides of your body if you have radiation-if you can't reach your back-purchase a plastic non-slotted spatula to put it on with.
      4. A natural Aloe spray can be very soothing on your radiated skin. I sprayed myself as soon as I got home from my treatments and a few times during the day.
      5. Talk to your doctor about creams he wants you to use during radiation. Mine only allowed Aloe, so I bought it at the health store. I also bought the Aloe drink there and put it in a spray bottle and used that on my skin.
      6. Radiation can also make you extremely fatigued.
      7. Miaderm Radiation Relief Lotion-can find in Amazon. My friends have had great relief with this cream.
      These tips are what I learned they are part of a blog I put together.

      I had 30 radiation treatments. I had a slight rash but never burned. As said above, there are lots of new ways the doctors are administering radiation. I definitely was fatigued. I used BENADRYL w/ Lidocaine for the rash as it was very itchy.

      I have a cardiologist who checks me twice a year. My radiation was of my left breast & axilla so the radiation was over the heart. No damage at this point, finished radiation treatment, 5JUL2017.

      My story is that my breast cancer (DCIS & IDC) in my left axilla had spread down my chest wall and 4 out of 9 nodes were cancerous - this was after having had chemo first. I had to have radiation. I am grateful that this has worked at this point. I am NED (no Evidence of Disease).

      As you read and research remember we are all different and our bodies react differently. I would be remiss if I didn't say this. I've met many who had no reaction at all and sailed right through treatments. I've also met those who burned. Follow what your doctor says and don't be afraid to ask questions. We are here for you!

      about 1 year ago
    • MLT's Avatar

      I had 33 rad treatments with no burns. The fatigue did build during that time. More recently had 10 rads to a different area with no side effects. YOU can do this!

      about 1 year ago
    • TerriL's Avatar

      I had 30 radiation treatments for breast cancer. I am very fair and did burn, but it was worth it. What worked best for me was Vaseline applied after my treatment. Your doctor can help you with all of this. Don't be afraid to talk with your doctor. They will also check you frequently for problems.

      about 1 year ago
    • MarcieB's Avatar

      30 treatments for me on my left side. I know this will sound crazy, but I liked going. I scheduled for an early appointment (8:15) because I only had a 20 minute drive to the hospital. Lucky for me, it was a lovely drive along a river and it was spring, so over the course of 30 days I watched the world wake up. I have always been one to read/study/meditate in the early morning. So I adjusted my schedule to work like this - I arose, had a little coffee, showered off my lotions from the day before, dressed and went downstairs to read a bit, prepared travel coffee and a *pick-up style breakfast which could be orange or banana slices, nuts, breakfast bars - any combination. Then I embarked on a peaceful drive along the river. Sipping coffee, munching a BelVita coconut bar.

      My radiation team consisted of delightful young people, extremely professional, who got me in and out in no time. We showed each other pictures of our families and our artwork, which helped keep things real - we are, after all, real human beings, not just objects to be tended to as a job. My treatment was on my left so it was necessary at times to hold my breath in order to lift my heart away from the beams. (that works!) I was shown how to use *virtual glasses* to track my breath during those times, and It kind of felt like a game to me. I would challenge myself to be better and better at it.

      I was back home by 9:00 am, with the whole day in front of me. I did not experience fatigue. Everyone said I probably would, but, aside from a few extra naps here and there, I honestly did not. My skin was never worse than a sunburn, I used aloe gel or Jergens Deep Restoring Argan (sometimes both).

      I know you are feeling dread, I can tell by what you wrote, and it is easy for us to say, "Don't be afraid." but this is all new for you and I'm guessing you have already been through some challenges. I hope you can think of this as being a *healing session* and find a way to make it meaningful. I hope when it is over, you can come here and say, "...piece of cake!"

      about 1 year ago
    • junie1's Avatar

      ive had radiation at least 3 times,,the key is to use creams,, to keep the sink soft, and moist for the treatments,, I used lots of Aloe,, coconut oil, and essential oils, something that is good for the skin. I only used the Silva cream a couple of times. I only had one spot that was extra red. 35 treatments,, ended them mid Jan. of this year,, and I'm all healed up,, and NO Scaring,,i still use a bit of essential oils on it after showering.
      The thing i found to be a situation,, is going to the radiation center every day,, getting undress,,,,and redressed,, Time on the table is about 10 mins.. you don't feel anything.
      Good Luck to you.

      about 1 year ago
    • 2943's Avatar

      This journey can be terrifying but is not. It is taking each obstacle and working with your team to conquer it. Radiation is quick. Takes longer to undress into gown than treatment. I envisioned tiny Pac-Man eating up the cancer during every treatment. (30). Fatigue can creep up on you as you have more treatments, so take a nap. I would write my questions and concerns down to ask. Your team will have cream/ lotion suggestions. I could not use anything at least 2 hrs before appt but could apply in dressing room. I had no issues. Make sure you share with the radiology team being terrified. You will not be the first but they should know so they can help rid these. Keep in touch. Hugs!

      about 1 year ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      I had 33 radiation sessions. I slathered on Aquaphor after each treatment and only had a mild pinkness near the end. I wore large white t shirts. Fatigue was the biggest side effect. Talk to your radiation oncologist about your fears. Doing that really helped me.

      about 1 year ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      I had 33 radiation treatments with the last five days being the "boost" treatments. I used the purest aloe vera gel I could find (which was at the local co-op). I applied it in the morning, in the afternoon *after* treatment, and again before bedtime. Unless things have changed from 10 1/2 years ago, they don't want anything on your skin during treatment. I burned a bit but it wasn't bad. Be sure to ask your radiation oncologist what is acceptable to use on your skin and when.

      Part way through treatment I started to feel a bit fatigued. Some evenings after dinner I would doze off for 10-15 minutes. That was it. My typical work schedule was 30 hours per week and I continued to do that without a problem.

      On the first day of radiation I asked the nurse when I should stop wearing a bra. She said, "Today". I purchased soft (cotton or silky material) camisoles to wear under my tops.

      po18guy is right - so much of what is on the web is out of date. Please be careful what you read online and who you talk to.

      Good luck, Dees. I know it seems scary. I was very scared the first couple of times. The treatment doesn't hurt and after a while I viewed it as another form of medicine. The treatment itself is fast. It takes longer to undress, wait your turn, and get dressed again. I met with the radiation oncologist once a week so she could check the area, answer questions, etc.

      omaalyce - I love the idea of the aloe spray. Good thinking. My skin was not too sensitive to touch but still a good idea.

      MarcieB - Your lovely drive along a river in the spring reminds me of my drive. My treatment was in October/November and the leaves were turning. One of the streets I took to get home was lined with trees that had red, yellow and gold leaves - just beautiful! It was a nice way to wrap up the day's treatment.

      2943 - I love the Pac-Man visualization.

      Sorry this is so long!

      about 1 year ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      I sailed through the 16 hypofractionated targeted radiation treatments for my breast cancer >5 yrs. ago. No pain, itching or broken skin. I applied Aquaphor in the dressing room after each session, and at bedtime aloe vera gel & more Aquaphor. Showered before going to each session. Just got a bit pink, then tan.

      This past August I had a different kind of radiation for a different cancer: plaque brachytherapy (implanted, internal) for ocular melanoma. It required a surgical procedure to insert the radioactive plaque, wearing a lead shield over the eye whenever w/in 3 ft. of anyone else, and then another surgery to remove it 5 days later. Eye looked awful and I saw poorly through it for about 6 weeks, and it felt like something was still in there (sutures hadn't fully dissolved). I still get a little "foreign body sensation" (like an eyelash, contact lens or cat hair) every now & then but no pain, eye looks normal and I see just as well as before--knock wood.

      about 1 year ago
    • Lmorales' Avatar

      Hi Dees. I had 6 weeks of radiation from breast cancer in my left breast. The hardest part about radiation therapy for me was you never got a break. 5-days/week for 6 weeks. It felt relentless in the time commitment. The radiation itself only took about 15 minutes, but the driving there, the short wait, getting on the table, having the treatment and driving home. The radiation technicians were all beautiful people and very encouraging. I own my own business and couldn't take time off so I didn't get to rest. By the time it was over I was truly exhausted. Fatigue is probably the biggest thing I encountered. My breast did get tender, but my radiation oncologist had given me a creme to slather on everyday. I also found that good ole Aquaphor slathered on my breast was very healing. I also sometimes used vitamin E oil. I hope you will do well. I found the chemo side effects much worse. If you can rest and not work then that will be helpful. And definitely ask your radiation oncologist about what they recommend in terms of something to put on your breast because after 6 weeks it does get alittle irritated. My biggest support and help throughout the whole thing however, was my faith and how faithful God was as I went through the whole thing. If you give it to God each day, surrender your fear and your health (mental and physical) every morning, you will have a peace that is hard to understand (Phillippians 4: 6-7). Best wishes Dees. Hang in there it sounds like you are almost done!!!! Be blessed - Linda

      about 1 year ago
    • Dees' Avatar

      There is so much support here and I am so blessed to have found this site. I have an anxiety disorder. My doctor prescribed escitalopram and it is helping to keep me calm. Thank you all for the feedback and information it’s very helpful. I know God will get me through this he is my healer. Thx linda, I will read Phillippians 4: 6-7. I have my medical oncology appt. on Thursday will see what they tell me. God bless you all…

      about 1 year ago
    • Dees' Avatar

      There is so much support here and I am so blessed to have found this site. I have an anxiety disorder. My doctor prescribed escitalopram and it is helping to keep me calm. Thank you all for the feedback and information it’s very helpful. I know God will get me through this he is my healer. Thx linda, I will read Phillippians 4: 6-7. I have my medical oncology appt. on Thursday will see what they tell me. God bless you all…

      about 1 year ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      Late to this, so all I’ll add is that, as everyone said, radiation is pretty uneventful. I had 33 treatments to my left breast. I had chemo prior, and radiation was so easy compared with that (but even chemo wasn’t terrible). I wish you all the best. I’m glad you found us.

      about 1 year ago
    • BreastCancer17's Avatar

      I followed all the guidelines my radiation Oncologist gave me, and still got burned. That was mostly because the PS , who didn't listen to me when I said I wanted to go flat, over filled the tissue expander by almost doubling the amount he put in & ruined my skin before radiation, by stretching it so thin.

      about 1 year ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      BreastCancer17, I’m so sorry. I hope you heal soon.

      about 1 year ago
    • BreastCancer17's Avatar

      Carool, thanks I healed within a month of finishing in 2018.

      about 1 year ago
    • Paperpusher's Avatar

      Late to seeing this. My husband did chemo and radiation together in2015. He was told to use Lansinoh cream which is for breast feeding moms. It worked great and he never got burnt with his 30 treatments. He was also told to use Dove unscented soap and nothing else. He did get fatigue but we expected it with the double whammy. We did see other patients coming in and leaving dressed to go to the gym or to work.

      about 1 year ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      BreastCancer17, that’s great!

      about 1 year ago

    Help the community by answering this question:

    Create an account to post your answer Already have an account? Sign in!

    By using WhatNext, you agree to our User Agreement, and Privacy Policy

    Read and answer more invasive (infiltrating) ductal carcinoma questions.  Also, don't forget to check out our Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma page.