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Cervical Cancer and Radiation

MMM41
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi

I am 40 and was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer last Aug. I have had 3 rounds of chemo and a radical hyst. My doctor now suggests 6 weeks of external radiation. I have read a lot but was wanting to know what you have experienced with radiation. Some of the side effects are with your bladder and colon- how bad is it. Did they give you medication to help? Did you have to strech your vaginal area? Was intercourse painful after radiation was done. Did the radiaiton make you tired? How did you feel after the treatments? After all was done how long did it take to feel better or feel "yourself" again?

Please let me know as I have to make a decision in a week or so.
Thank you

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

MMM41,
Wow! So many questions...sorry that you've joined the ranks. You can read about a lot of different women's experience here. We are all different and have reacted differently. Too many physical and emotional things happening at one time and so quickly. I can read anxiety in your post.
I think that one thing we'd all agree on is the fatigue. The degree varies with the number of treatments you receive and your overall health prior to starting them. I got whammed hard, but I also endured many treatments. I'm not sure I can separate the effects of radiation and chemo. None of it was terribly enjoyable and during the last several weeks I was getting 4 external rad. treatments, 1 chem, and 1 brachytherapy per week. Bet I glow in the dark! My treatments ended 8/08 and I'm still dealing with GI issues. Lots of scar tissue, adhesions, and surgical clips is the reason they say...hmmm. Bladder took a while to come around, but it's functional. Not sure if you develop vaginal scar tissue with external radiation only. It's the internal rads that are known to cause havoc. Crap grows like wildfire! I'm sixteen months in remission at this time and can honestly say that I am starting to have more good days than bad. And because of that...I am setting up to go on vacation in April. Haven't dared do that before this.
MMM, the decisions you'll be making in the near future are not easy one's. You'll always find someone here who understands what your going through at that moment. Keep us updated!
((HUGS))

funbeadgirl
Posts: 159
Joined: Jan 2009

Hi MMM41,

I did have 5 1/2 weeks of external high dose radiation, and it does affect the vagina. It will cause scar tissue to form and narrowing of the vaginal canal. I saw a women's health specialist that dealt with womens cancer treatments and she started me on using a dilator with a compounded hormone gel that I used daily for 3 weeks, then every other day aftewards.I had vulvar adenocarcinoma, so I had a very extensive surgery also, in fact it was exactly one year ago today that I had my surgery...I am glad I got past it and you will get past yours too.
You may not feel like having intimate relations is important now, and reason that it's too much to deal with, but believe me, you want to keep the vagina open...you will have to go for regular internal exams and if you don't keep it open, it will be very painful.Intercourse was painful at first, but I was given lots of good advise and doc gave me a special lubricant to use that is wonderful(do not use KY jelly-it has alcohol in it and will dry tissues out further).
As far as the bladder goes, I always drank a 16 oz. bottle of water just before my treatments, so that my bladder was full...radiation oncologist recommened that and I never had any trouble with my bladder at all, I did experience a few issues with intestins, but I ate a low residue diet to help with that, drank lots of water, and the side effects did not last for long. Just as becky said everyone reacts differently, there are many variables with each individual.
Make a list of your questions and ask doc for answers, the more informed you are, the better you will feel when you have to face these decisions.Everyone on this site can offer you support, so keep posting, especially to let us all know how you are doing.
I wish you the best!
Sue

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