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Dazey
Posts: 86
Joined: Sep 2009

Any feedback on driving yourself to treatment each day? Is it possible at all or for the entire 6 weeks? What about working while in treatment? From all that people have shared, I expect "post" treatment to be a good time to not be working, but at what point is it still possible? Any feedback on the day to day expectations of treatment will be helpful. I start tomorrow. Thanks all, Dazey

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

I am sorry about your cancer. Its hard to answer specific questions on some subjects as each individual reacts different to treatments. I had B-Cell Lymphoma in my face and used drivers during my chemo treatments. Mostly because of the sea sick feeling right after chemo. During my 25 radiation treatments I walked to my treatments that were only a couple blocks away. But I also drove daily as I needed to eat. I also had no problem driving 180 miles on the weekends so I could be home. On the emotional side of things you might want someone around for the first few appointments. Its nice to have someone to talk too after a stressful situation. If your thinking too much about what you have just been through then your proubly not paying attention to your driving. Play it safe. Best of luck Slickwilly

pk's picture
pk
Posts: 192
Joined: Aug 2009

My husband is has just finished week 5 of 7 weeks. You will not be able to go to work during your treatment once it gets going. Maybe the first week. You will be exhausted and will need to pay attention to your eating schedule especially if you have a g tube which most folks need to have as eating becomes extremely difficult. You will also probably be taking pain medication that you should not be driving while on. My husband is taking less pain meds. now than he was at the beginning of his treatmnet so he does drive a little bit but not very far. He is very very tired. Once your treatment ends you will continue with the side effects for quite a long time. The g tube doesn't come out until you can eat enough to maintain your weight and for most people eating that much again takes a long time. You will also continue with being quite tired. This is a time to focus only on you as this treatmnet is very hard. PK

carolinagirl67's picture
carolinagirl67
Posts: 153
Joined: Jul 2009

Dazey,

Everyone is different and it really depends on how your body responds. My husband is in his last week of radiation and has driven himself to every appointment. We live 30 miles from the hospital one way. I have taken him on all his chemo appointments because it is a long day and I wanted to be there with him for support. But really he could have gone by himself if he needed to. He worked up until the 4th week. He is okay now, just really tired. I am sure that is from the chemo. He has a PEG feeding tube but is still eating and drinking some by mouth. We use the PEG as a backup because food taste so bad but he does drink his ensures in the morning and then water, gaterade and gingerale. Stay positive, I think that is what has helped the most. You will be fine and you will get your life back. We are so close to the end and you will be here soon too. God Bless!

Donna

Dazey
Posts: 86
Joined: Sep 2009

Thanks for the response. I just got home from my first treatment. The doctor asked me if I had any questions before it started, so I asked him if I could drive. Of course he asked me if I could drive now, very funny, but he did say yes. I am glad to read your response because those were the questions I had. I live about 35 miles from the treatment center and I also work. I was hoping to work through week 3 - you have given me that hope. Thank you! I am scheduled for 30 treatments (six weeks) and no chemo. The treatment is IMRT, so I will just try to be positive. Your information has reinforced that; it is so important to focus on what you can do and not what you can't. I wish your husband a speedy journey. I have also walked in your shoes as the caregiver- keep the positive thoughts flowing and the angels will follow. Dazey

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1254
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm in my seventh week of chemo and Radiation.I would encourage you to fully focus on your treatment if possible, barring that you own your own business with no one to take the reins for a while. This gets complicated after a while and little things creep up and become problematic. This is the biggest fight of your Life, don't give it half your effort.
Yes you can drive. But please consider not working if possible.
Things that will creep up:

If they place a feeding tube driving will be impaired if the tube is placed high on the right side. You won't be able to stand the seat belt rubbing on it. In this case the other side of the car and some else driving won't bother you. Radiation burns on the neck will decrease mobility side to side and back in the later weeks.

Pain medications will play havoc with your digestion system in either direction, both unpleasant and better dealt with at home.

It takes much longer to get ready to go anywhere with a feeding tube. Showers take longer becasue you have to tape it up to keep it from dangling and possible dislodging it or just causing yourself pain.

Oral hygiene takes an enormouse amount of time, Brushing after every thing you eat, gargling, mixing the solutions. Mouth sores will make eating difficult and you will spend much time over a sink keeping the oral cavity clean.

You will get fatigue and lose some ability to concentrate on things. If possible Cancer is a good time to be SELFISH.

Care of the feeding tube takes much time in cleaning, disinfecting, flushing, taping up and that dosen't even include the feeding time.

Lastly there will be days you won't want to go anymore. If you have someone driving you you will be more apt to be ready and waiting not wanting to disappoint them. It's all doable but don't trivilize it because it is not a walk in the park.

Dazey
Posts: 86
Joined: Sep 2009

Thanks for your thoughts. I definitely know that this is one of the most difficult journeys and the park is filled with many obstacles. I was the caregiver for my late husband who lost a hard battle with a similar cancer 12 years ago. He experienced radiation first, then a laryngectomy and then a combo of radiation/chemo. He also had lung cancer and underwent a lobectomy. I am not trivializing any of this. I experienced these struggles as his caregiver. Knowing that I look at this through the lens of experience, I need to hear the positives. I have been told that the treatment he had back then is considered "stone age" compared to today. I need to be reassured about that. I need to have the distraction of normalcy( work) right now. I am hearing from some people that it is after the treatments stop that you need to have more time to just heal. I am planning to take time off when I need to. I am just hoping that I can work the first 3 weeks of treatment and then look at time off. I also have family members and friends lined up to do any needed driving.

Your points about the PEG tube are good points - not to mention the dental care. Very important - Please keep writing about your progress and know how much I appreciate your sharing of your experience. Dazey

carolinagirl67's picture
carolinagirl67
Posts: 153
Joined: Jul 2009

Dazey,

Since you don't have to do chemo then maybe yours won't be as bad. The chemo really has taken its toll on my husband. He has done well with the radiation. He is scheduled for 35 and has completed 30. So we are close to the end. In our case, he has had no mouth sores and no real pain, he is not even taking any pain medicine and we are near the end. The only time he took pain med regularly was when they put in the PEG. That was sore for a while. I know a lot of people say just take the time off and focus on your treatment but I think that in my husbands case, it helped him to keep things as "normal" as possible for as long as he could. He worked until his fourth week of radiation and that kept his mind off of the cancer. The last three weeks have been long, and he has rested a lot. I wish you all the best! Keep us posted on your progress.

Donna

Dazey
Posts: 86
Joined: Sep 2009

Thanks for your response. I am only scheduled for radiation - IMRT for 30 treatments - 2 done and 28 to go. I agree with the importance of normalcy in life - whether it is real or perceived - we all want to have some control over what is happening to us. I am very happy for your husband's attitude and progress - I hope I can have a similar experience. Since I was also a caregiver, as you, I can also relate to what you may be going through. There are no books to prepare you for any of this - I know it helps to be open and resilient. Did your husband have any problems with accepting the mask and confinement in the treatment machine? I was fine for the first treatment last night, but today, I started to have a panic attack right after the CAT scan part - they had to pull me out - take a tranquilizer and then do it over again 30 minutes later. So much for toughing it out. Dazey

BeenThereDoneThat
Posts: 29
Joined: Jul 2009

I agree with others that everyone is different. I too did 30 rad treatments. Also had chemo.

I was able to drive to most treatments. It felt good to 'control' something. Later in the treatments I needed my wife to drive me 'cause I felt crummy (more mind than body).

I stopped working after a few weeks. Some work to take their mind off things.....didn't work for me. I concentrated on getting thru the treatment, so I stayed away from work. Did keep up with everyone thru email.

You'll be fine. Take it as it goes....the good days and bad days. Don't get frustrated when things don't go as planned. My worst thing was when they were backed up a the treatment place. I was not a very patient patient!! I wanted to get it done and out as fast as possible. The caregivers were great, though.

I had no issues with the mask. Still have it 5+ years later.......waiting for a time to burn it!

Remember, one day at a time. It's a roller coaster ride, but you will come out the other end great.

George

pk's picture
pk
Posts: 192
Joined: Aug 2009

You will make it through. My husband is entering his last week of radiation and his onco has told him also that the treatment for cancer in the throat is very different than it used to be. More advances have been made in this type of treatment than any other form of cancer. So that is good news. Be prepared to take care of YOU. Ratface is right on when he describes the amount of time and energy it takes to deal with this treatment. I think a goal of working for a while is realistic, but when the fatigue sets in you will be amazed at the toll it takes on your body. Also using the feeding tube requires a schedule. And then there is the dental and oral care - lots of horrible mucus to deal with after the first couple of weeks. I think my hub has done very well with this - better than some-he's tough, but I have to tell you that he is certainly feeling the effects of this treatment. For him ( and he's a real go getter) the fatigue and weakness is very disheartening. Again - this is a time to focus on YOU. Do it!!! Keep us posted on your journey.
Phyllis

pattynonews's picture
pattynonews
Posts: 176
Joined: Aug 2009

Well as for driving , it has to be your call, if you are feeling sick and nausea it is not a good ideal. I know we did not have a car at first and the cancer center provides transportation back and forth to the clinic also you can call the American Cancer Society and they will provide vouchers for you, Plus your on pain meds and with Jack and where is tumor is he can not turn his neck I know you feel like you are loosing your own independence I know Jack did, when we got the car he wanted to drive, but I drive him everywhere. As for working Jack had 33 weeks of radiation and chemo at the same time, ( he is a drummer and he did do all his gigs but it took a toll on him ,You can apply for SSI that will help financial or if you have Short Term ot Long Term , becasue I see Jack I know he is tried after chemo and the radiation was so bad, that he just stop playing after all the gigs were done last year and now has taken time off,

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1254
Joined: Aug 2009

I think driving for the first three weeks is probably going to be fine. I am so sorry that your late husband also suffered from this horrible beast. Yes some advances have been made in treatment but don't kid yourself, things haven't changed that much. The radiation IMRT machine is probably the biggest change which makes targeting more efficient and less prone to injuring the salivary glands. You can deal with the mask. I closed my eys for several weeks, put my hands in my pockets and found a better place to be. Now I have started to open them and follow the machine around the room counting the exposures, I count sixteen. Some places allow music to be brought in or have that capability. Consider anti-anxiety meds if not already on them, makes a big difference. They will also cut the eyes out of the mask if you ask, seems to help some. If you take someone with you ask them to observe the procedure from the control room. It will give you a very different perspective in the amount of control exercised by the technicians and help to alleviate some fears. getting ready to leave for mine. Keep posting.

diamond-n-the-rough
Posts: 14
Joined: Jul 2009

Dazey : Sure , I drove myself the whole time, twice a day in fact & 26 miles away. This was the determination, that help me beat the hell out of "cancer ! Find the desire to live again!

Dazey
Posts: 86
Joined: Sep 2009

Thanks for that positive vote! I just finished my 13th out of 30 treatments and continue to drive myself - I also continue to work full time - I leave my office at about 3 for my 4:30 treatment So far, I am doing good and will continue to do this unless I can't. My daily mileage, including work is 90 miles. What kind of treatment did you have 2x day?
Keep those positive thoughts flowing - Thank you!

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5887
Joined: Apr 2009

I was able to drive myself on days I did just radiation all the way through to the last one, but on days I did Chemo & radiation, my wife had to do the driving.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8100
Joined: Sep 2009

Like Hondo, I drove to all of my radiation treatments, and also a few when I was doing both concurrent chemo and radiation on the same day.

The first few days of radiation my wife drove me as I wasn't comfortable at all having to wear the mask and was prescribed Xanax. That only lasted a few days until I became used to the routine and stopped taking the Xanax, it made me feel drugged out later in the day.

For me I just hated going, but knew it was necessary to kill the cancer. I took a few CD's with me and they played them everytime I had treatment...LOL, I still have not played those CD's since then.

As for working, I was very fortunate that I mainly do computer related work and my employer set me up with a token and I could connect to my work computers and work at my liesure. This was great, I could work when I felt like it and rest when needed. I really miss that now that I'm back working full time again in the office....

Good Luck and God Bless,
John

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