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Give me the skinny on radiation treatments!

lhodnet
Posts: 62
Joined: May 2004

I have to have 25 treatments to the chest and to one node in my throat. I went in for a nupegen shot and the nurse at the hospital totally went off on radiation and said it will be way worse than chemo and that I will experience really bad esopogus and throat pain and that I won't be able to do much during treatments -

Um, thanks for the downer nurse. But I didn't ask you.

Anyway - give me the skinny - is it really that bad?

TIA!
lisa

Ronnie10
Posts: 20
Joined: Jan 2004

Lisa, first of all, I hate that nurse. What an awful thing to say! Secondly, I am going to give you the REAL story of radiation. I had to basically have the same amount of radiation you are having and in the same exact area. (I had stage II B Hodgkin's). I also had 12 treatments of chemotherapy. Compared to the chemo, RADIATION WAS A BREEZE. I would go every morning, be there for like 10 minutes, leave and go to school and work. The MOST that I noticed was that I was a little more tired than usual. And really, compared to the fatigue from chemo, it was nothing. I asked for the cream that they give you to help your skin not get irritated. Usually they say if you get red, they will give it to you, but I asked for it from the beginning and put it on before anything happened. My skin just turned a little pink during the last week, and I didn't even feel it bother me. It faded quickly after my treatments. My throat never hurt. On the LAST DAY of my treatments, I noticed that I had a little trouble swallowing. It lasted for about 3 days, and then that was it. IT WAS NOTHING COMPARED TO CHEMO. You will be fine. Let me know how it goes. If you have anymore questions, feel free to ask!

Veronica

Heatherjb
Posts: 27
Joined: Feb 2004

I second that opinion. Radiation is soooo much better than chemo!!!! I had 30 radiation treatments for stage II A Hodgkins (mantle field radiation). I lost some hair on the back of my head (but it had already fallen out from chemo and was barely coming back in). I did get a sore throat and had a bit of trouble swallowing, but was not really tired. I did get a little bit sick in the middle of the treatments, but compared to chemo, it was not bad.
I am 18 months out now from radiation and my throid has stopped working and I have to take medication for it.
Seriously though, if I were you, I would go back and ask that nurse if she has ever had radiation. Because unless she has, how does she know anything about it?
The radiation techs were so nice, I still go visit them whenever I can and they helped a lot.
Good luck to you and don't listen to the nurse.
One tip, if you do get a sore throat, suck on cough drops, it helped me.

AuthorUnknown
Posts: 1564
Joined: May 2006

I had a rare malignant tumor in my cheekbone and cheek muscle. I had to go through 6 weeks of radiation to my face and right side of neck and head. The radiation just made me tired but not sick. The biggest problems were the sores in my mouth and loss of taste, that went away about 3-4 weeks after treatment. I also lost the hair on the right side of my head, parts of it are growing back slowly. Also, the radiation darkened my face really bad, that is healing as well. I finished treatments three months ago. Everyone is different, it just depends on where you're getting the treatment administered.

karieallen
Posts: 23
Joined: May 2002

wow, that nurse was a downer. but you're right in collecting other information. and keep in mind your experience will be unique and how you handle it entirely up to you...
and all I can tell you is my experience.. I had 18 radiation treatments on a large portion of my chest, 20 seconds from the front 20 seconds from the back. Only several three times during radiation I had a little trouble swallowing... I just took smaller bites and drank water with meals... the main side effect was fatigue, although I worked 6 hours per day (weekdays) all through radiation, and I took afternoon naps. I did have sunburn-like skin, but lotion handled that...
My recommendation is hope for the best, and prepare for other contingencies, and always be proactive in your health care.

tomar
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2004

Lisa, My partner had stage4b bulky hodgkins. About as bad as it gets. He had 7 months of intense chemo and 30 days of modified manta field radiation. Compared to chemo the radiation was indeed a breeze. His throat did get sore and he developed a sunburn like area on his chest and back. The best advice I could give you is to educate yourself as much as possible before you meet with doctor who is handling your radiation treatments so you will be better prepared to ask questions and understand. His doctor was fantastic and helped a great deal. He benifited from appling lotion (supplied by his doctor) regularly to all areas were he had radiation. Do not wait for (sunburn) to appear and he went through boxes of popsicles which seemed to help with his sore throat. Remember what works for one may not work for you so try all you can until you find what is right for you. Good luck and keep your positive attitude.

KyLibrarian
Posts: 10
Joined: Feb 2004

Like everyone here, I agree that radiation is easier than chemo. However, I did have some serious throat pain and trouble swallowing about two weeks in (I had 17 low-dose treatments in the mantle field). The good news is it can be managed by meds if you're one of those who it affects more. My doc gave me lidocaine to mix into a little soda and swallow before meals, and when that wasn't enough he prescribed a mild liquid form of a narcotic. I was worried about taking it until the pharmacist said it was the same stuff kids get when they have their tonsils out! That helped, and by two weeks after my last radiation I was fine. Just make sure you ask for something if the pain starts--I let it go a while thinking someone would magically know I was in pain.

sherra
Posts: 41
Joined: Oct 2002

Wow-whats that nurse's problem. Some people! I had 18 shots of radiation to my neck and chest after completing ABVD and it wasn't that bad. I experienced a sore throat, lost the hair on the back of my head (it's grown back since) and had to get these ugly little tatoos and all of this about sums up my radiation experience. The worst part of the whole thing was the daily reminder that I was sick and that I was probably the youngest patient the radiation techs had seen for a while (I was 22). I'd take radiation over chemo any day (not that I'd want either again)

stepet
Posts: 69
Joined: Dec 2003

The nurse was definately is a pip, but maybe she was trying to make sure you didn't have clouded vision like me. I thought radiation was going to be a breeze. For me it wasn't. Noone told me I would get sick(threw up on day one) and continued to feel awful throughout. I didn't have chemo, so I don't know about that, but just make sure you are prepared for some bad side effects, I wasn't.

suz64
Posts: 10
Joined: Feb 2004

It is unfortunate that the nurse wasn't very encouraging. It is true that each person will react differently to the same treatment. It probably would have been better if she took that track rather than tell you that radiation would be the worse part of your treatment.
For me, chemo wasn't a breeze, but I made it manageable. I had my down days, but I prepared myself and was able to look at it positively.
The staff at the facility where I had the radiation were horrible and that probably influenced my treatment and my reaction to it. I had 17 days of radiation and mine wasn't over the whole mantle field. (That was in comparison to 12 weeks of chemo.) I ended up having a sore throat and mouth for at least three months. I lost my voice for 3 1/2 weeks. It was very difficult for me to eat for the first month and I lived on milk shakes, yogurt and soup. I developed a very bad dry mouth which still effects me six months later and I have a coating in my mouth which is troublesome. I have not completely bounced back energy-wise and I blame it on the radiation. Within a week of stopping chemo I noticed a definite improvement in my energy levels.
And I am telling you this because I found out that my body and radiation did not agree. I was able to withstand the chemo much better, but the radiation knocked me on my ass. So, it just goes to show that everyone reacts differently and to be prepared to be gentle with yourself, because you do not know what you will have to face or overcome. It could be nothing at all or it could test your mental and physical limits.
Best of luck.

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