Hi Lucy77 i found radiation to be fairy easy after chemo, although it was fairly exhausting attending every day...
I was advised to use a water based moisturizer - the one I used was CeraVe, but Glaxol base was also recommended. I started using the cream before my sessions started and I moisturizer that morning and when I got home from treatment. My skin held up fairly well. I had some itchiness and needed to use a hydrocortisone cream for a bit. I wore a cotton bra as anything else was too scratchy.
The sessions themselves were well run. They were ready for me each time based on the prep session and things they had needed to tweak last time. I had some trouble with my arms thanks to neuropathy so I was unable to hold the rail above my head. Instead they propped my arms in the right position using foam blocks. One in position you can’t move. If something needs a scratch you have to ask the staff to stop and do it for you! Coughing or sneezing is allowed but they’ll stop and restart for you.
Be kind to yourself - it is tiring...
best wishes, Essjay
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018
I was told by my oncology nurse that it is extremely important to remain active and spend time outside as much as you can because radiation depletes oxygen from your cells and the only way to ensure the oxygen circulates in your body is to be active and spend time in the fresh air. Combining both is an excellent idea.
You will also feel very tired ALSO because of oxygen depletion. Stay active! Hydrate yourself!
Lucy77 Great question! As we know, each of us may experience radiation a little differently, but over all, i think most have found it much easier than chemo. Essjay gave some great tips which i echo. Lots of moisturizer, try to stay hydrated, rest when you are tired and enjoy some fresh air when you can. I found the technicians wonderful as they see you everyday, so are always checking in to see how your skin is doing and how you're making out.
Lucy77 I started using Glaxal - cream ( you can get it at Costco in a big tub) about a month before as I figured it couldn't hurt.
My radiation oncologist said there was no point to applying it early - just start as soon as I started radiation - but the cream was cheap, my scars were still tender, so I used it .
What side is your breast cancer? Mine was on the left so i used a technique with radiation called - ABC - Active Breathing Coordinator. You hold your breath while they "zap" you , in hopes of reducing damage to my heart. They only use this technique, of course, if your breast cancer was on the left side.
Good luck at your appt. Let us know how it goes. Kim
Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation.
Mack and Hannah's mom
Lucy77 Best wishes for an easy course of radiation. Everyone responds differently. I had 16 sessions plus 4 boosts after a lumpectomy (May 2019). Tips for self care include maintaining a healthy diet, good protein intake for cell repair, and exercise - even walking for 30 minutes a day will boost your energy. Radiation may make you tired at the end of each week so do rest when needed.
My radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto recommended using Lubriderm for sensitive skin (you want to avoid products containing lanolin). I also purchased sterile saline solution to do saline soaks once my skin began to break open and peel. Those are heaven for the damaged skin! If your skin becomes very sore (mine did in patches, but especially under my arm), try PROSHIELD PLUS dimethicone ointment. I was given some at the hospital but was also able to buy more in the hospital pharmacy. A really effective skin protector. Of course, a comfortable bra and clothing that doesn't rub the affected area will help.
The effects of radiation can get worse for about a month after treatment ends but use the tools in your self-care toolbox and you should do well. Your skin may take in a tanned look, mine did, and that hasn't gone away. Make sure to protect your affected skin from the sun so there is no exposure.
Lucy77 Hello and great you’re asking this...I completed 20 sessions end of august..got lucky and had minimal fatigue. Definitely the saline soaked facecloth was soothing and I just used Aveeno unscented several applications per day...I actually put the lotion bottle in the fridge, a nurse recommended. The cold lotion was very soothing. I also found the ibuprofen was super helpful when skin became itchy near the end. Best to you, you’ll do well!😊
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I will be getting a supply in before I start!!!
My lumpectomy On my right breast and my breast reduction on the other side are still very sore. Is this normal?
Is it ok to put cream on my breasts and under where all the stickers are. I have found that more info and suggestions need to be passed on to people who go through this. There are always these missing pieces. I’m sure it’s the same in other cancers too.
I, too, had radiation after 6 months of chemo. I did not have any negative symptoms other than more tired than usual. I would listen to my body. If I was tired I would rest and not push myself. It might depend on how many radiation sessions you will have. I didn’t have any skin breakdown. My husband, who was diagnosed with cancer a year after me had more than 30 sessions, going every day and did have skin breakdown. The oncologist and radiation therapist told us what products to use to ease and help recover the tissue. Be kind and pamper yourself.
Although radiation seems scary, it really is pretty easy. I liked to think of it as the cleanup crew getting rid of all those errant cancer cells. My radiation oncologist said it would take more time to park my car and walk into the building then the time it takes to do the radiation. I don’t think it would hurt to start moisturizing now. I used Glaxal Base as well. It was available at Costco and the nice thing was is that you got a large tub and a small one as well. I took the small one with me to radiation and applied it right after I got dressed. I applied three times a day and more if my skin was feeling itchy or irritated. This is a good question to ask at your consult - what to use and when to use it.
Your first radiation appointment will be the CT setup appointment. This appointment is used to get your specific position settings. Positioning tattoos will be applied (small dots that you likely won’t be able to see). These are not where the radiation goes, but ensure that you are positioned in the machine consistently. This appointment takes some time. This information is then sent to your rad onc to do the math for the radiation treatment. At our facility you will start treatments about 10 days to w weeks after this initial set up appointment.
The fatigue will build over the course of your treatments. My radiation oncologist suggested walking for 30 minutes a day and also resting for one hour every day. He said to rest on the bed, no tv, no reading, just rest. I did this and felt it helped. Some days I slept and some days I just rested.
Be sure to communicate any issues with your radiation technologists. I found them to be extremely helpful and compassionate.
Wishing you all the best on this part of your treatment.
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers
I had 16 rounds of radiation through July and August. I did have some burning about 10 days after the end of the treatment, which was cleared up by Polysporin in about about a week. I should of used more Glaxal before, during and after radiation.
I had a break of about three weeks, then started on Letrozole, an estrogen suppressing pill, which will be part of my daily routine for a few years. Fortunately I do not have any side effects from the Letrozole, other than the odd hot flash. I will also receive an IV infusion of Zolodronic acid every three months for two years; this is to preserve bone strength, and has shown to prevent recurrence in post-menopausal women (I am 66).