Hi my name is Victoria and August 11th i had surgery (lumpectomy) in my left breast. It was discovered from a lung X-ray for a cough. I had a lung biopsy and then went for a mammogram which turned into 2 which turned into 2 ultrasounds which turned into a biopsy which turned into surgery on my left breast. That all happened. Now on Monday I start 3 weeks of radiation. I’m really nervous and I’m practicing holding my breath for 40 seconds plus I had the simulation and I started Anastrozole a week ago. I’m still nervous about this whole thing….
@Euroquillo @Lianne_Moderator @supersu @Cupcakes Hello Victoria, I'm so sorry you have the need to to find our little Family but so glad you did. Simply because we care about you.I've tagged a couple other awesome ladies that may help you much better than I can. Anyway consider yourself part of this Family as well. This is your safe space to rant, chat, scream or ask ANY question you feel the need the answer to.
It kinda sounds like you may have already gotten your tattoos. If so welcome to the 3 dot club. If not, no worries it's a no stress procedure where they make very small dot tattoos on you to mark exactly where the laser will be placed. These will be used each time you have treatment.
The procedure it's self is easy, peasy. You'll change into a gown and lay on the table. The staff will make a fuss getting you all lined up with those dots. When they are certain of the placement they start the process. The process takes about as long as getting you lined up in the beginning. It's not loud, the machine will slowly rotate around you then back. Your done. I hope this helps !
thanks @Dave58 for the tag - yep yep yep — sounds familiar!
I was, where you are, about 1.5 years ago!
I started my radiation treatments to my Left, (apparently Lt sided is much more common that Rt sided breast cancer!!), breast in July 2020.
it's a lot to take in, isn't it!
as Dave mentions, the radiation itself is mostly easy and pleasant. make sure you address any skin irritation ASAP. the technologists can help you with things as you go along, but if you see any blisters---let them know.
lots of folks here used lotions – I had some that I stuck in the fridge and made sure to moisturize the area when I got home…the cool was a dream!
I was quite concerned also that I might not be able to do the breath holds as I have asthma…but I was A-OK. I think you'll do fine if you just relax and listen to the instructions and don't think too hard about it all. I found when I sort of zoned out, it all seemed to go so much faster! ha ha
do you have support? I did it pretty much solo, as it was in the middle of the 2nd COVID wave here in Alberta….but that's the great thing about this community. there are a ton of people as close as your keyboard!
let me know if there are any specifics I can help you with.
Thanks Su. I did have he practice run where they got all their coordinates and that’s funny I’m afraid I won’t be able to hold my breath long enough and they’ll zap my heart or lungs I’m sure this will all go well and I’ll live forever. That’s another thing I’m worried about. The cancer coming back. How are you programming your head about reaccurance?
Thanks for the welcome to the 3 dot club except I have 5 dots lol. I hope. Don’t get any burns. I’ll have to research creams.
@Euroquillo Ok…so play connect the dots 😁 I was told to make sure that the cream did not have any oils or additives. I talked with my pharmacist and he suggested “ Base Glaxal ” This is the base cream they use to make other creams with. I used it starting about a week prior a couple times a day and continued until about ten days after. Worked like a charm ! As I have lung cancer I was radiated on my chest and that's where I used the cream. They never told me about using it on my back as well as now I have a radiation burn there. DO NOT GET FREAKED OUT ! I talked with the radiation techs and they were so embarrassed that I wasn't told to do the back as well. So what ever cream you use, use it on both front and back and you'll be fine !
I used the no-name glaxal cream….got it at shoppers I think…even with cancer I am a penny pincher! the pot I got is still going strong… ha ha ha
as for ‘do I worry it will come back’? simple answer: absolutely yes.
what to do about that? answer: no idea.
I think it is now just part of who I am. I try not to dwell on it all, but I have very regular CT scans and mammo's to this day, (in fact I even had another biopsy a couple months ago). I have some ‘spots’ they are following, so ‘scanxiety’ is real over here!
I just have to put it out of my head as much as I can, and hope to heck that everything was removed in my 2 surgeries and the radiation took care of the rest.
I am pretty realistic type of person…..I work in health care and see LOTS of folks who ‘had’ cancer many years ago, coming in for scans for completely different stuff….I hope I am one of those stories! if not - nothing I can do about now. just live my life as much as I can.
ps: if you are responding to a post, tag the person you are responding to or they may miss it! all you have to do is type a ‘@’ symbol first, then start entering the user name….once you see them pop up, choose the box and their name should appear in blue in your post, (see above where your name is!).
if you have any coping strategies to share - I am all ears.
@Euroquillo I finished five rounds of radiation on Friday. Was supposed to be 16 rounds but my radiation oncologist offered me the accelerated version due mainly to my being four hours away from Regina. So far no burns but I have been using the Glaxal religiously. Fair warning: that stuff STINKS! Like a bandaid on a dead skunk. But it is supposedly the best, so I persevere. My best advice is to make sure you do the exercises they (hopefully) gave you at your CT scan. I scoffed and thought I am (relatively) young and fairly flexible, I don't need to do these. But that was the hardest part: holding my hands in the above your head position for the whole time. And it's only five minutes or ten at the very most but my arms were killing me! Hang in there you got this 😊
Hello from another member of the 3 dot club - your club must be fancier if you got 5 dots 😉
I had my radiation 10 years ago for left side breast cancer. I had had heart surgery at age 2 so there was concern about my heart by myself and the oncologists. I had tests on the heart before, during and after and then much later and there was no change at all.
It is definitely daunting the first time you lie down on that table and hear the machines and watch them move around you. But after that it became pretty normal for me. You are generally in and out quite quickly. I was able to drive myself to every appointment. I will say I didn't expect the amount of fatigue that I had. ( I had 5 ½ weeks of radiation ) The fatigue seemed to be cummulative so it continued to get worse for me even after I was done, before it started to get better. Just a heads up as I didn't expect that at all.
As far as creams, I used Aveeno I think but only the one particular one that had no perfumes, alcohol etc - anything that can irritate. And as @supersu says, let the radiation team aware of anything that doesn't look or feel right.
I wish you well . Please come back and let us know how you are making out.
Thanks for the tag @Dave58
I too am in the dot club. Mine was the pelvic area thou. No burns. Had bit of dry skin. I used a prescription cream. It’s covered under insurance. (I’m cheap). I also used a barrier spray. But I have an ostomy and already had the spray. Techs said was safe to try. Not sure if it all did anything but I made it out of 30 treatments without any skin issue.
sending u best wishes as you undergo treatment. hugs
Welcome!! Your post brings back memories for me. I felt the same - not only was i worried I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath,I am also a little claustrophobic 😐
The good news is that the technicians are awesome! If you let them know your worries - they will be really attentive to be as helpful as they can. In fact, a few times, I was nervous and didn’t hold my breath long enough - so they just call in through the intercom and ask you to try again. They don’t zap if you don’t hold for long enough - in fact the radiation machine alerts them if your breath hold is “on” .
Another positive aspect is that since it was everyday - Monday to Friday - you get the feel of how long to hold your breath, as you do it everyday. You also get to know the staff well.
I am sending you healing oxygen for Monday! Let us know how it goes. Take good care. Kim
@Euroquillo welcome. I too was terrified I wouldn’t be able to do the breath hold but it turned out to be fairly easy, and my tech team told me I had great clearance of my heart. The techs are awesome as @Kims1961 says - they talk you through it and if there are any problems they stop and adjust. I had problems with my hands. I was unable to hold the bar because of neuropathy but they propped my arms up to keep everything in the right position and it worked.
Its a well-oiled machine and they usually run to time and after the first time it should be quick for you. It’s tiring going every day but just count them off.
@Euroquillo I too had 16 rounds of radiation for left sided breast cancer. I did my radiation treatments on my stomach so I did not have to hold my breath. Glaxal Base was the cream recommended by my radiation oncologist. I started using it three times a day at a week before I started treatment. I then used it at least three times a day for the duration of treatment and several weeks following. If I had some discomfort I would use more of it. It worked well. I didn’t find that it smelled bad. I fared well with minor burns (bad sunburn) and fatigue.
Each treatment is very quick. They will be over before you know it.
I have 4 dots - we are all a little different. I went through 25 rounds of radiation to my left breast in Jan and Feb this year. I, too, was worried about my breathing and faithfully practiced the 40 seconds. However, I breezed through it all with no breath-hold problems. I had to hold it longer for the simulation than I did for the actual radiation. The technicians assured me that the machine would stop if you couldn’t hold a breath. The whole process is very precise. Like supersu I had to go through my treatment alone, but I found the technicians were a great support. Don’t hesitate to ask them if you have any questions.
Good luck on Monday!