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Radiation

minnesotaslim's picture
minnesotaslim
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2011

Hello, I wonder if someone can tell me what radiation treatment is like. I have stage 4 lung cancer and am just finishing up my fourth session of chemo involving cisplatin, avastin and gemzar. Results have been stable with just a slight shrinkage of the effected lymph nodes.
If this holds stable they will give me radiation which will involve 15 minutes of radiation for six weeks. I have been pretty sick on the cisplatin and other drugs. Does radiation make you really sick like that and do you think it is crippling. If someone who has been through something similar to this I would so appreciate hearing from you. I am sixty four and otherwise pretty healthy but just don't want to be zombie for the rest of my life.

Thanks

Dave Nance
Los Gatos, CA

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

Hi Dave, first I'd like to welcome you to CSN. I'm sorry you had to come here but it's a wonderful place filled with knowledgeable, caring people who will help you in any way they can.

I went through chemo and radiation 2 years ago and found the chemo was the worst because of the nausea. My worst side effect from the radiation was the fatigue but I learned to deal with it by not pushing myself. If I was tired I would rest, when I had energy I would get out and go for a walk or do something I enjoyed.

The radiation nurse told me to make sure I got some exercise daily, she said walking was a wonderful exercise and it got me outside. I was lucky in the beginning if I could walk for 10 minutes a day but gradually built my strength back up and walked for longer each day. Another thing she recommended was to get outside in the sun each day, not for prolonged periods and definitely not enough to burn your skin (wear sun blocker) but for at least 15 minutes each day. She said the fresh air and sunshine would help me feel better.

My only other advice is make sure you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, more if you can. This not only flushes the chemo out of your system it also keeps you hydrated. It is so easy to dehydrate when going through treatment. Also try to eat as much as you can when you can to help keep your strength up and your body nourished.

We all react to treatment differently but I personally found the radiation much less problematic than the chemo.

Please keep posting, Dave, so we can help you through this. Whether it be advice, encouragement or just so you can vent.

We are all here for you,
Glenna

minnesotaslim's picture
minnesotaslim
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2011

Thanks so much Glenna. You're a survivor and that all by itself is encouraging. I have
lung cancer. I that what you had? It's stage four but the chemo seems to be keeping any
significant growth in check. I have one more chemo session starting Monday and then after
that a PET Scan and then if it's contained they will radiate which consists of 15 minutes
of radiation per day for six weeks.

I am single and live alone. Although I have part of my family around, a daughter her husband and three really cute grand kids, the battle feels so lonely at times and admittedly I do get
discouraged and just want to give up on all the sickness and discomfort. Am I going to be sick the rest of my life and then die or is there light at the end of the tunnel? I know you can't answer these questions so I suppose I am actually venting here if it's okay.

I am 64, have two successful businesses still going and I get to them a few days a week to hit the high spots. I am so grateful I have good people working for me so I don't have to worry
about them going to hell in a hand basket while I am dealing with all this.

At this point I am just hoping to find a few more good years of living...maybe I'll get more
who knows.

I do keep hydrated. I keep a small ice chest full of ice and water in my car so that when I go out I always have a good source of chilled water. I eat. I have kept almost all my weight and am holding steady with that. And I do push myself to hard sometimes and I am beginning to learn my limits there and it does make things better.

Gog bless you for writing back to me. It's unbelievably good to talk with some one who has walked this walk before.

Dave

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

I had lung and laryngeal cancer at the same time, two completely separate cancers, not mets. I had cisplatin and 35 rad treatments to my head and neck area for the laryngeal cancer and then 4 Stereotactic Radiosurgery treaments for my lung.

My side effects from the radiation would be different from yours because the 35 treatments I received were for the larynx which caused severe dry mouth and loss of taste. With the SR treatments I received for my lung the only side effect was fatigue. It wasn't "bone crushing" fatigue, I could do many things but tired much easier.

Yes, Dave, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to learn to be patient (easier said than done) and not push yourself. Each week you will feel yourself getting a little stronger.

Praying for a good PET scan.
Glenna

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

From your last sentence it sounds as if you are thinking of whole brain radiation - not the same thing at all. Radiation won't zombify you =) May make you bald (if you aren't already from the chemo)!
Be well, stay well!
stayingcalm

minnesotaslim's picture
minnesotaslim
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2011

Hi staying calm,

It's radiation in the area of the lungs. I have stage four cancer there but chemo has kept
it contained thus far. I have my last chemo session on Monday and if they think the situation
warrants it then I will have 15 minutes of radiation each day for six weeks. Thanks for your response. It feels very good to hear from someone who has been down this path. And, on the hair, I didn't want to lose it and it has been thinning I've noticed. But if radiaiton will
somehow make me cancer free it would be well worth it to lose what little hair I do have.

What type of cancer did you have?

All the best

Dave

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

I have Lung cancer too, but I also developed what seems to be recurring brain tumors - I've had 2 surgical removals so far, and I'm currently (still!) taking Tarceva to keep control of the lung cancer.

I originally did have radiation to the lungs, it wasn't a fun thing to do, but I've had way worse! I had a fairly sore throat, but I couldn't stand the "magic mouthwash" mix the doc gave me, so I never used it. I had a little "sunburn" on my back, which wore off pretty quickly. All in all, I came through it okay!

Take care,
stayingcalm

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

We missed you Deb. I do hope things are going well for you!

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

I'd rather not hijack someone else's post, so I'll send you a message :)

*or maybe not, since you
don't accept messages

sleepless in jersey
Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2011

I dont know if you have seen my post re:poss. cushingoid for Mom?
I remember chatting with you awhile ago re: facial swelling etc, just didn't know if you came across this?
She's going to the Dermotologist on Wed.
Continued positive energy your way...

deltafun's picture
deltafun
Posts: 50
Joined: Apr 2011

HI Dave, I have stage 3b lung cancer and just finished six weeks of Chemo and seven weeks of radiation. I was lucky and had no side effects from the chemo and very little side effects from the radiation. The last two weeks of the radiation I did have a little burning in my chest at night and did feel tired at times.

Other then that and the fact I had to get the radiation treatments every day it was not that bad.

Frank

medi_2's picture
medi_2
Posts: 510
Joined: Aug 2009

You will not be a zombie; Do the radiation, it is worth it. Some side effects can be aggravating, but you will get through it. I had sclc and my Doc told me the other day he didn't want to see me again.;) My treatment was cisplatin, epitisode and 33 morning visits for radiation. A month after treatment I had PCI. It has been 2.5 years and I haven't turned Zombie yet. I can't tell you what to do, but Do It! :)
Cheers
Medi

Dan620
Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Dave, 3B NSCLC NON-Operable .... I had chemo (carbo & taxol) and 35 radiation treatments, chemo in the morning (once every 3 wks) and rads in the afternoon, last treatments ended in Aug. 2008. The worse of my side-effects was the burnt esphagus after about 4 weeks of rads. I really went through it all very well and you can do it too. Just had 69th birthday 6/20 and still going strong. ... Best wishes ... Dan ( boy i wish i could write like so many on this site, I should have stayed in school .. lol)

Ex_Rock_n_Roller's picture
Ex_Rock_n_Roller
Posts: 281
Joined: Mar 2011

Pretty much what Dan said: starting last May at the age of 58.5, two course of Cisplatin and Etoposide along with in the neighborhood of (I lost count) eight weeks of radiation to the chest. Only side effect was a burnt esophagus for the last 1/4 of the course, and pretty heavy fatigue for about the same amount of time. If your esophagus is not being overlapped by the path of the radiation, you may do even better.

I bounced back feeling like at least $600K (if not a million bucks) within less than a month, and have had a great year since.

Go for it. You ain't gettin' zombiefied.

lynntaylor
Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Dave,
My dad is 68, diagnosed with stage 3a NSCLC in Feb '11. He had/has a huge tumor in his medistinum. He just completed 35+ radiation treatments (concurrent with chemo) and has had huge success. His tumor has shrunk 80%!! Going into this I did not understand just how beneficial radiation can be. His side effects were fatigue, and some sore throat. Since he was taking chemo at the same time it's hard to determine which was more cause of the fatigue... but regardless it is well worth it.
Good thoughts to you... wish you all the best.
LT

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