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Radiation oncologist consult has left me confused.

I had my radiation consult today and I am thoroughly confused......The radiation oncologist was describing the treatment, which will be 25 external treatments in 5 weeks, nothing surprising there.....He asks if I have any questions. I ask him about side effects and fatigue. He proceeds to explain to me that typically nobody has any "real" side effects. I asked if he thought I should modify my work schedule ( I work as a paramedic and my schedule is for a 24 hour shift and then off for 48 hours so I am concerned regarding the fatigue factor). He proceeded to tell me that if an 80 year old woman can take treatments and not have fatigue then surely I shouldn't have a problem. I realize that everyone handles treatment differently. However he is totally blowing off any and all side effects....Whats the real skinny here?




  • funbeadgirl
    funbeadgirl Member Posts: 181
    side effects of radiation
    Hi Deb,

    Sorry that your onco is making light of your treatments..a man I suppose? I had 28 treatments last year from Feb-April for vulvar adenocarcinoma. While I do agree that each patient is unique, there will be some side effects. I remember telling everyone I was fine and felt pretty good, but I was tired, not extremely so, but I did get tired and had to rest a little each afternoon. I lost my job when I received my diagnosis, so I did not have to face work at all, you may find that your job will be a little taxing on you, especially toward the end of the RT, as it is accumulative. I did not have any issues with my bladder, but a few with my bowels, very minor, and that cleared up once treatment stopped.
    My best advise to you is to listen to your body, if you feel tired, then take a rest, whether it be a nap or just sitting in a chair for a while.I had great support from the nurses at the clinic, they were very compassionate (women:))),and helped me with some issues. I was most afraid of the radiation treatment and actually my rad/onco turned out to be my favorite doctor of them all, I wish you could have same experience I had.
    Don't compare yourself to any one else,someone will always handle it better than you and then there will be those who don't handle it as well as you, in either case what you are going through is unique to you...and don't be afraid to let the nurse and doc know if you are having trouble. I physically was doing o.k., but emotionally it hit me harder than I expected. In retrospect I realize I was experiencing side effects but tried to put on a 'brave' face for everyone else, but I did get through it. You don't mention how old you are, really not that important I don't think,.. but a positive attitude will carry you far...I truly wish you well, hang in there and speak up if you need to for yourself! I will be thinking of you.
  • Kar1
    Kar1 Member Posts: 4
    the real skinny
    I'm sorry you are going through this. I had chemo once a week along with radiation. My gyn oncologist led me to believe that I would be able to work through the whole treatment. I set up my treatments at the hospital near my office to make it easy to run back and forth. That lasted for the first week. Some people don't have many side effects and others do. I think the doctors play down the side effects initially, so that patients don't get side effects just because they expect to have them. The best you can probably do is to let your supervisor be aware that you are planning to have treatment. If you are able to work then you can work. If you have side effects they may come on suddenly and you may be off work for an extended period of time. You and your supervisor need to have a plan B, if you suddenly can't work. The doctors see a young and otherwise healthy woman, so they believe you are strong enough to fight the side effects. However, if you are one of the people who find that you have trouble eating or your food goes through your system so fast you can't benefit from it, you can get weak rather quickly. I ended up with a PICC line and TPN, staying with my retired parents during treatment. Another woman was having similar treatment and was able to eat fried chicken fingers with no problem. She was making plans to go boating on the weekend. Everyone reacts differently. Hopefully, you won't have side effects, but have a plan in case you do.

  • gjeans37
    gjeans37 Member Posts: 2
    radiation side effects
    Hi I finished my radiation treatment in May of this year I had 25 days of radiation. I had my
    treatment before work at 6am. I was not fatigue at all. The only problem i had was with
    diarrhea in the last week of treatment and problems with my bladder towards the end of
    treatment. My doctor explain the side effects to me in great detail. good luck with your treatment.

  • SheaBear3335
    SheaBear3335 Member Posts: 6
    Side effects
    Hi Deb,

    Well, I had 30 sessions of the external radiation and 3 weeks of the Brachytherapy for Uterine Cancer. I was miserable and am still having some side effects. I was consistantly tired. I decided to take STD/FMLA. I also had a lot of problems with my bowels, so much that I was taking 4 imodiums 3 times a day per my Oncologist and they also gave me Rx to go under my tongue to help control the symptoms. I was also put on a NO FIBER diet..ugh there is so many things that have fiber lol...but, I did it because there was time I had no control over my bowels and at times had to wear depends it was embarrassing...I couldn't go anywhere or eat anything. I also ended up with skin rashes on my lower abdomen and vaginal areas where the radiation was hitting. They gave me oinments to put on it and was also told to us Domborro soaks. And queasy I was never so queasy in my life...they gave me more meds for that...gotta say they all worked though..but time..was just a lot of time. I'm certainly not trying to scare you because each person reacts differently to the sessions!!! The only thing I can tell you is how I felt and what the reactions were for me. My docs were great though they monitored everything and told me up front of all side effects but told me it was only possibilities and to prepare for them. I am so glad that I took the time off from work..the first week was a breeze and then down hill from there for me. Make sure you stay on top of your docs and don't forget if you don't feel comfortable YOU CAN get another oncologist there...you are not alone! Good luck to you!! Let us know how you are doing.