First Week of Radiation
Last Tuesday, I went for the first of my 33 radiation treatments. I thought that for my first treatment, I should wear something colorful-something fun, so I wore my tie-dyed bandanna that I purchased a while back for the whopping price of $1!!
|Am I looking especially RADIANT?|
I was a bit anxious when I went into the treatment room. The idea of laying very still while flat on my back with my arms up over my head for an undetermined amount of time made me nervous. As I was laying there, I started to feel pretty anxious. The machine, the lights and other various unfamiliar things (none of which actually caused me any pain) began to feel a bit overwhelming. I started to feel my heart race just a little bit. NOT GOOD, since I had to lie very still! WHAT TO DO??
I started telling myself that the lights and beams were not scary, that they were healing. I also tried to concentrate on my breathing. I don't usually have much success with things like breathing techniques, and imagery in calming myself down, but this worked!
After I managed to stop stressing so much, it really wasn't bad at all! The worst part was that the table was uncomfortable. I had to keep my head turned to the left for the set-up and treatment, and this was more than a little uncomfortable for my head and neck. Overall though-not bad!
I am hoping and praying that the side effects from radiation will be minimal. I was told that some of these side-effects may occur during treatment. Others may show up months or possibly YEARS after treatment ends.
Not surprisingly, skin problems are pretty common while undergoing radiation therapy. The skin in the treatment area can become red, irritated, and sometimes swollen, looking as if it is blistered or sunburned. Further into treatment, the skin can become flaky, dry, or itchy, and often starts to peel.
Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with the skin issues. Some suggestions are-
Wear loose clothing made from soft, smooth fabrics.
Never put heat or cold on the treated area. No heating pads or ice packs.
Always keep the treated area protected from the sun.
Be gentle. Never scratch, scrub or rub the treated area.
Always check with your cancer care team before using any creams, lotions, powders, ointments, etc. on the affected area.
Many people start to feel very fatigued a few weeks into their radiation treatments.
The fatigue caused by cancer and radiation is quite different from normal fatigue. This fatigue is much worse, and it may not go away with rest.
I have received a lot of advice on managing fatigue, such as-treating sleep problems, getting more exercise when possible, reducing stress (ha-ha!) and eating a well-balanced diet. I will get back to you on what works for me, when and if this nasty fatigue shows up!
Lymphedema is a condition in which fluid develops in the arm, hand, chest or even back, causing swelling.
Lymphedema is caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, part of the immune and circulatory systems. Women who have axillary nodes removed, and/or radiation to the lymph nodes area of the underarm may develop this condition.
Lymphedema can be treated, but not cured.
Lymphedema is more likely to occur in women who are overweight.
There are some other possible side-effects, but since they are much less likely to occur, I won't go into them right now.
Today when I went for my treatment (5 down-28 to go!), I wasn't stressed, and it seemed to be over very quickly! That fear of the unknown can be so unnecessarily stressful!
After talking to a lovely woman at the center who is almost done with her treatments and who seemed to feel very ENERGETIC-I am feeling VERY confident that I too can get through this with a smile on my face!