What to expect at Radiation treatment

I have gone through what it’s like to go to Chemo- so I thought I would go through what it’s like to go through Radiation.

First off, Radiation is easier than chemotherapy; in so many ways. Everyone will tell you this, but it’s true.  When you first get started they are going to have you come for a “fitting” with the machines. Depending on where your cancer is they might make you a mask to keep your head still and in the correct position (head or neck cancers). It’s all about positioning and making sure everyday of treatment is exactly the same. Because I had breast cancer they gave me tiny tiny blue tattoos in 3 different places on my chest and bottom of my neck. They are really hard to find now, but if I look hard I can find them.

The whole appointment might take an hour because you will see the radiation oncologist or the nurse before your appointment and then it takes time to change into an examination gown and then change back into your street clothes. My actual treatment time or as I like to call it “nuking” was about 20 minutes long. Some people were much faster, some people were much longer it just depends on where your cancer is and how hard it is to position you. And all you have to do for radiation- is just be very very still and listen to the technicians and do what they tell you. Easy. Except I had to do it everyday, Monday -Friday for 35 treatments- and you get physically tired from radiation and emotionally tired of always going to cancer treatment. But the techs try to make it as pleasant as possible, they were warm carrying people just like the chemo nurses. A special group of people who you will get attached to and learn about their families and their goals. I was going through a tough transition at work and they were really great listeners. So after your “nuking”, you get dressed and then go about your day. It’s not like chemo where you may be extremely nausea and sick- Radiation does do a number on your energy level, but I will take that over chemo any day.

And the burning of the skin. I’s 4 years later and I can still see my “tan” lines. I am just a little darker and redder on that side. It’s all about moisturize, moisturize, moisturize when your undergoing radiation. I was lucky my hospital gave me radiation cremes to take home with me to use. (one less errand to run) But they can be purchased online or in medical supply stores. They are pretty readily available so that is why I don’t carry them here at CancerVictory. I wore my favorite old cotton t-shirts with no tags during that time. I couldn’t wear a bra it was just too much on my skin- but you do what’s comfortable. I thought I ruined those t-shirts but eventually the stains from the cremes came out of them. I had a “special” treatment that I got from my acupuncturist at the time to help put off the actual burning. I will fill you in on what that treatment was on a later post.

So there you have it- that is what going to radiation is like. Tiring but do-able.