There are so many elements of breast cancer. I wanted to write and discuss the big chunks first. So, if you are in this stage, this may help you through radiation. All stages of breast cancer are hard (in my humble opinion) but some are better than others. Radiation for me was the easiest part of my journey. However, for my sister in law it was one of the worst parts of her journey. Here is what helped me through this radiation phase.
- Make sure that your Radiation Physician is talking with your Oncologist. This will help YOU so much because they will be in sync with your plan and that is very important.
Once they build your plan, know that it will change. Be flexible and open minded. You will need to be patient because the first time is about measuring, getting all the points in line and getting your small tattoos around your breast to target the area they are going to radiate.
- My Radiation Oncologist prescribed me a cream (or you can use Aquaphor too) to use every morning and every night, I used it past my radiation time. It was a life saver. Help yourself and follow their instructions. Call if you are having issues or having any side effects! Don’t be shy; it’s about your wellness.
- Be prepared to get burns on your breast (the cream helps) but it’s very uncomfortable to say the least. I purchased all-cotton bras (several of them) that don’t have underwire but are soft and comfortable. Believe me you will need it! I slept in one the entire time. If you need to go braless and that is what is most comfortable then own it and be free!
- As a female, I was surprised when I had male technicians that helped me and handled my breast. Don’t get me wrong, at this point in your journey you don’t care who sees you but I wasn’t prepared to have two male technicians but they were amazing! Professional and made me feel totally comfortable. If you have a gender preference you may want to request it up front. I tipped them with a gift card on my last treatment.
- You may start having a rash or itch from the radiation but the cream will help and if it’s not please call your doctor and get something stronger.
- Fatigue is the worse side effect (to me) of radiation. It zaps you of your energy. It tends to get worse as you go through your treatment. It usually lasts three to four weeks after your treatment stops. Don’t be hard on yourself, just know that your body is going through a lot right now and to be patient with yourself.
- Try and eat healthy during this time, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins. This is true through all of breast cancer, try and eat healthy. I have to say this was hard for me because I had thrush so bad that I ate only what I could taste which was buffalo chicken wings. But try is all I suggest.
- Take turmeric with curcumin, shows that it does have anticancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. I take it every day twice a day as preventive measure. But you decide what works for you.
Radiation can last up to six weeks and on the last two weeks they will do “boosters” which are stronger beams to be more affective or kill any microorganisms missed during surgery. These are painful but truly worth it. Be prepared because your breast are pretty red at this point and these boosters hurt but you can endure it. You’re strong!
Just to recap, plan your radiation path with your Radiation Oncologist and your Oncologist. It’s every day up to 6 weeks and you can do it! Planning is very important. I did mine first think in the morning before I went to work. When I got tired at work I would go home. Some days I would last all day some days I wouldn’t. But there is no right or wrong here, bottom line, do what is best for you. Good luck to all those warriors out there!