Do you think a Dr. would let me do one less week of Rads than supposed to?

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JillyB
JillyB Member Posts: 50
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hi,
I just finished w/ chemo on March 31 (YAY!), it was rough, and am told to wait a month, then have 6 weeks of Radiation. Well, I am planning to go away for the whole month of June. (I am 36, living with my parents for the past 2 years thru this and a back operation before it, that is how the cancer was found), but anyway, I am reanting a Condo at a Ski Place where it's like a self contained Village ,so I won't have to drive anywhere, I can bring my kitten, and just get away and absorb all that has happened and start to come back to life, but if I do the 6 weeks, I will lost the first whole week of June. Now June, is still the "Off Season" here in New England, as the kids dont' get out of school until the end of JUne. I don't have any, but it affects the prices greatly. I can't afford July, even the 1st week. And I really have it all planned out. Knowing me and the way it has gone, I'll spend the 1st week sleeping mostly, or watching TV, then I have 3 weeks to paint, write songs, walk the flat paths, use the indoor pools and STEAM ROOMS. Can't wait to gett his poison Steameds out of me! I know it may sound odd, immature, ridiculous, whatever, but I meet wihthim next week to finalize everything, and I need to ask him to either push it up a week, to get six in, or I[ll just do five. My nurses said the reason for waiting a month is to let the cells repair enough for the Rads, so I doubt pushing it up a week will be an option. Just need some advice. To me, getting away Spiritually is so much more important to me than losing 5 days of radiation, or it might just be 3. Any opinions? I can handle it!!! Thank you....
Jilly
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  • JillyB
    JillyB Member Posts: 50
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    Me again....
    To add on to what I just wrote, I would have been done chemo over a month ago, had I not had so many complications..so it's not like I planned on this to interfere. And when else does anyone get this much time that is just so necesary? I know I am lucky to be able to take the time, but I don't have the money past June. And 3 weeks, possibly less (depending on my physical shape) of being able to make full use of the beautiful place, isn't enough. Seems like a waste of money. OK that's it, just wanted to say, I really was "supposed" to be finished with it all by the end of April. Thanks again for listening. I don't know what to do. At this point, I am so obsessed wtih it, I feel like I should just cancel!
  • TraciInLA
    TraciInLA Member Posts: 1,994 Member
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    Okay, you asked for opinions...
    Hi, Jilly -

    I spent the last year doing surgery, chemo, and rads, and finished active treatment 3 months ago. I have 2 opinions of my own to offer about your decision:

    1. I think that, during treatment, our physical recovery has to come first. Emotionally and spiritually, treatment is hell, no doubt about it, but I think those needs have to temporarily take a back seat to those of our bodies while we're focused on getting rid of the cancer.

    2. As far as I know, rads is a 1-Time-Only-Offer. In most cases, you can't have rads to the same body part more than once. So, just to get hypothetical for a moment -- if doing 5 weeks of rads instead of 6 weeks somehow resulted in the cancer not being completely gone, you can't just go back sometime in the future and do it again.

    Jilly, I so understand how much you long to start healing spiritually and "come back to life." I would just suggest to you that this decision isn't about the month of June -- it's about the rest of your life.

    Just my thoughts, respectfully offered.

    Traci
  • RE
    RE Member Posts: 4,591 Member
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    Interesting Question
    Jilly this is something you need to be very honest with your onco and rad doc to aid in your decision. It all kind of depends on the type of cancer, how aggressive it is and so forth and so on. Lay all your cards on the table and tell them what you have told us and see what the response is. If they feel you need that additional week then you will have to make that decision for yourself. Keep in mind rads burn and you may not really enjoy those steam room as they may intensifies the burns. You are quite young to me (I am 52) and perhaps will be able to go on this trip next year, just a thought. In addition even thought they say 6 weeks of rads it can end up taking 7 weeks to complete should you happen to burn and need a break from the rads. I myself have had a total of 16 weeks of rads in an 20 month period. Be careful to stay out of the sun during and for quite awhile after rads as you can get bad sun burns. Please chat with your doctor and go from there, these are life changing choices you are contemplating.

    Sincerely,

    RE
  • Q088suzie
    Q088suzie Member Posts: 27
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    Last week of Radiation
    Just a suggestion, but is it possible that a radiation treatment center is located near your vacation destination....Look into that option,,,you might be able to schedule the last week there.....?? Hoping for the best for you!!
  • Youcandothis
    Youcandothis Member Posts: 79
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    JillyB said:

    Me again....
    To add on to what I just wrote, I would have been done chemo over a month ago, had I not had so many complications..so it's not like I planned on this to interfere. And when else does anyone get this much time that is just so necesary? I know I am lucky to be able to take the time, but I don't have the money past June. And 3 weeks, possibly less (depending on my physical shape) of being able to make full use of the beautiful place, isn't enough. Seems like a waste of money. OK that's it, just wanted to say, I really was "supposed" to be finished with it all by the end of April. Thanks again for listening. I don't know what to do. At this point, I am so obsessed wtih it, I feel like I should just cancel!

    OK here goes
    You said be honest: you're balancing a week against the rest of your life. I did lumpectomy, chemo, radiation last year, and I'm here to tell you the worst you will feel during rads is the last week of treatment and the two weeks following the end of treatment. The fatigue was overwhelming, like having your insides scraped out and nothing left. I'm not saying you can't travel, I did myself during chemo, but I am saying those three weeks will be a lot of resting. You are unlikely to feel like doing any sustained activities. I completely understand your desire not to change your life. Right now life is full of appts needles and medication. Even for me, a year later, I'm hitting amilestone tomorrow--bloodwork mammo and bone density, and if all goes well I get to wait a whole 6 months before I do it all again. We do these things because they're much better than the possible alternative. Maybe this is the year you look at an alternative and go two weeks in august instead of a month in July. Rad treatment is no joke, recuperation at home may make more sense than holding on to your original plans.
    Good luck!
  • tgf
    tgf Member Posts: 950 Member
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    Q088suzie said:

    Last week of Radiation
    Just a suggestion, but is it possible that a radiation treatment center is located near your vacation destination....Look into that option,,,you might be able to schedule the last week there.....?? Hoping for the best for you!!

    cutting rads short
    I was in a similar situation with my radiation treatements. I was planning a trip to visit my grandsons at the very end of my treatments. Since the last few radiation treatments are the boosters my radiation oncologist worked out a schedule so I could finish a couple of days early. It's been awhile ... but I think he might have increased the boosters so that I got the same ... but just in fewer days. I was very tired ... but I didn't have to change my plans to see my grandsons. You just have to talk to the doctor and see if something could be worked out...

    good luck.

    hugs.
    teena
  • MyTurnNow
    MyTurnNow Member Posts: 2,686 Member
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    Jilly, welcome to the
    Jilly, welcome to the family. One thing you can check out is whether your radiation onc would let you double up on your daily treatments. Then, you can finish in half the time. There was someone one this site a while back that actually did this. I wasn't aware it was even a possibility, or I may have asked my onco. Also, I'm not sure how your skin would be affected but it's worth a try. Let us know what you decide and good luck!!
  • DebbyM
    DebbyM Member Posts: 3,289 Member
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    TraciInLA said:

    Okay, you asked for opinions...
    Hi, Jilly -

    I spent the last year doing surgery, chemo, and rads, and finished active treatment 3 months ago. I have 2 opinions of my own to offer about your decision:

    1. I think that, during treatment, our physical recovery has to come first. Emotionally and spiritually, treatment is hell, no doubt about it, but I think those needs have to temporarily take a back seat to those of our bodies while we're focused on getting rid of the cancer.

    2. As far as I know, rads is a 1-Time-Only-Offer. In most cases, you can't have rads to the same body part more than once. So, just to get hypothetical for a moment -- if doing 5 weeks of rads instead of 6 weeks somehow resulted in the cancer not being completely gone, you can't just go back sometime in the future and do it again.

    Jilly, I so understand how much you long to start healing spiritually and "come back to life." I would just suggest to you that this decision isn't about the month of June -- it's about the rest of your life.

    Just my thoughts, respectfully offered.

    Traci

    I agree with Traci. Rads is
    I agree with Traci. Rads is a one time deal and I would rather take that extra week that my rads oncologist thought I needed to kill the cancer cells than worry if that one week might have saved my life later.

    Good luck with what you decide
  • cindycflynn
    cindycflynn Member Posts: 1,132 Member
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    Jilly
    I agree with the others that you do want to keep your long term health in mind when making any decisions about fighting this beast.

    The suggestion to talk to your doc about the possibility of accelerating your rads is an excellent one. That way you can have both! If I was in a position to HAVE to choose between much needed time to restore and refresh and finishing my treatments, I'd have to go with the treatments and just find a way to postpone my rest and relaxation. Personally I don't think I could really relax if I didn't feel like I'd done everything I can to ensure I only have to go through this once!

    Best wishes to you, whatever you decide.

    Peace,
    Cindy
  • sunny_girl
    sunny_girl Member Posts: 33
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    shorter course of radiation therapy with a lower dose...
    Hi Jilly,

    Your radiation oncologist will be able to give you a better answer, but my understanding is the typical protocol is 50 Gy divided into 25 treatments of 2 gy each, plus 5 boosts to only the scar area the last week. There have been recent studies that show higher doses for fewer treatments are just as effective:

    Several clinical studies have shown low rates of local recurrence and limited radiation-induced morbidity with a cumulative dose of 40 to 44 Gy in 15 to 16 fractions over three weeks, rather than daily fractions of 2.5 to 2.7 Gy. Whelan and colleagues performed one such study, comparing 42.5 Gy administered in 16 fractions over 22 days versus a total radiation dose of 50 Gy given in 25 fractions over 35 days. Their five-year results showed a local recurrence rate of 3% in both groups and similar cosmetic outcomes (J Natl Cancer Inst 2002; 94: 1143-50).

    http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation/new_research/20080922b.jsp

    Your radiation oncologist may or may not be willing to follow the shorter protocol. You may wish to try another facility also.

    Good luck!
  • jk1952
    jk1952 Member Posts: 613
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    shorter course of radiation therapy with a lower dose...
    Hi Jilly,

    Your radiation oncologist will be able to give you a better answer, but my understanding is the typical protocol is 50 Gy divided into 25 treatments of 2 gy each, plus 5 boosts to only the scar area the last week. There have been recent studies that show higher doses for fewer treatments are just as effective:

    Several clinical studies have shown low rates of local recurrence and limited radiation-induced morbidity with a cumulative dose of 40 to 44 Gy in 15 to 16 fractions over three weeks, rather than daily fractions of 2.5 to 2.7 Gy. Whelan and colleagues performed one such study, comparing 42.5 Gy administered in 16 fractions over 22 days versus a total radiation dose of 50 Gy given in 25 fractions over 35 days. Their five-year results showed a local recurrence rate of 3% in both groups and similar cosmetic outcomes (J Natl Cancer Inst 2002; 94: 1143-50).

    http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation/new_research/20080922b.jsp

    Your radiation oncologist may or may not be willing to follow the shorter protocol. You may wish to try another facility also.

    Good luck!

    I would definitely talk to
    I would definitely talk to my doctors about this, and ask what they might be able to do. When I had radiation, I worked 6 hours a day, and I chose to delay my planned vacation so I would have some time to recover from the radiation so I could better enjoy the time away. I was very glad that I did, because I would have been too tired right after the treatments. Any chance that you could rent the same unit in September, which I would also assume is the off-season, and see if you could arrange for time-off then?

    Joyce
  • Sharon40
    Sharon40 Member Posts: 93
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    I so understand
    I had planned and paid for a cruise 8 months early. My doc said it should be plenty of time . . . NOT!! I ended up with 3 surgeries that really pushed back when rads could start. I did chemo, surg, then rads. My radiologist cut me back to 30 days instead of 33, but she was reluctant to do that. I was lucky and able to get my cruise postponed by 2 weeks with a very small fee. I am on my last 2 (Tues and Wed) and then I am done! I would be leaving on Friday had we not changed our plans and I am so happy we did change them! I am burnt pretty bad, but I would still be going if we had too!! I can't tell you what to do, but I can certainly understand your situation! Talk immediatly with your radiologist! Good luck with what ever you decide.
  • eileenmorales
    eileenmorales Member Posts: 3
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    shorter course of radiation therapy with a lower dose...
    Hi Jilly,

    Your radiation oncologist will be able to give you a better answer, but my understanding is the typical protocol is 50 Gy divided into 25 treatments of 2 gy each, plus 5 boosts to only the scar area the last week. There have been recent studies that show higher doses for fewer treatments are just as effective:

    Several clinical studies have shown low rates of local recurrence and limited radiation-induced morbidity with a cumulative dose of 40 to 44 Gy in 15 to 16 fractions over three weeks, rather than daily fractions of 2.5 to 2.7 Gy. Whelan and colleagues performed one such study, comparing 42.5 Gy administered in 16 fractions over 22 days versus a total radiation dose of 50 Gy given in 25 fractions over 35 days. Their five-year results showed a local recurrence rate of 3% in both groups and similar cosmetic outcomes (J Natl Cancer Inst 2002; 94: 1143-50).

    http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation/new_research/20080922b.jsp

    Your radiation oncologist may or may not be willing to follow the shorter protocol. You may wish to try another facility also.

    Good luck!

    radiation
    Hi,
    I think you will need to take this to your doctors. I finished radiation 3 weeks ago and had an incredible doctor and I felt I totally trusted her. She really stressed the importance of going through the entire treatment. Some people have brought up doubling up on dosage which may be an alternative. Your skin will probably not be in shape for a sauna so you might want to check with the doctor about the things you will and won't be able to do. My skin was in terrible shape for about 2 weeks after I finished treatment. It does heal fast. In the end you have to do what feels right for you but this is a one time thing.
    Many good wishes to you!!
  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950
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    Sharon40 said:

    I so understand
    I had planned and paid for a cruise 8 months early. My doc said it should be plenty of time . . . NOT!! I ended up with 3 surgeries that really pushed back when rads could start. I did chemo, surg, then rads. My radiologist cut me back to 30 days instead of 33, but she was reluctant to do that. I was lucky and able to get my cruise postponed by 2 weeks with a very small fee. I am on my last 2 (Tues and Wed) and then I am done! I would be leaving on Friday had we not changed our plans and I am so happy we did change them! I am burnt pretty bad, but I would still be going if we had too!! I can't tell you what to do, but I can certainly understand your situation! Talk immediatly with your radiologist! Good luck with what ever you decide.

    I know that during my rads.
    I know that during my rads. there were some people there doing two tretments a day. I don't know why, but it does seem to be a possibility for some to double up...so ask the Onc.
  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    all treatment
    Your treatment is solely up to you. We make the choices on whether on not to have treatment, so if 5 weeks is all you want to do. Discuss it with you rad oncologist so your treatment plan can be done accordingly.

    I was 36 when i went through treatment last summer. I had 7 weeks of radiation and I started radiation 3 weeks after completing 8 rounds of dose dense chemo.

    I would discuss all this with your radiation oncologist and have them reflect your treatment plan accordingly...

    One thing We all learn while going through this is to find our voices... I personally found that the Doctors and techs get complacent with what they are doing and forget we are people.. I would not allow them to put the tattoos on me for radiation.. Just my personal choice. I didn't want little blue dots on me the rest of my life.. I would only allow them to mark me with a permanent marker and use tegaderm which would be change at the office when i was coming off..

    I remember telling the tech that they were not tattooing me and her giving me a attitude and me asking me if she had little blue tattoos on her.. and her response was NO, and I asked her how can you than sit here and tell me what I should have on my body.

    My point.. we to a point dictate what is going to happen to us... we make choices and they need to accommodate us.. when it can be...
  • ppurdin
    ppurdin Member Posts: 1,181 Member
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    vacation
    I know how you feel.I also had a vacation planned with my husband when going through my treatments.Like you I was determined not to cancel.But i did becauce I knew how imporant my treatments were to me fighting Cancer.I would not cancel a week of treatments.maybe they will move it up a week.And again I do know how hard it would be to cancel.Maybe you won,t have to.Good luck.
  • mimivac
    mimivac Member Posts: 2,143 Member
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    Hi Jilly,
    Your vacation sounds great and I understand your desire to take the whole month of June. It sounds so relaxing. As far as fatigue, you may or may not experience fatigue during radiation. I didn't, but many do. You never know how exactly how you'll react. I took a week of vacation in the four weeks between chemo and rads. Could you maybe do it that way?

    As for your larger question of shaving a week off of rads, I would think very carefully about this. That's forgoing about 17% of your treatment. That last week is usually when they do the boosters to the local tumor bed to really eradicate any lingering cancer cells in that area. Unforutnately, because of our age (I was 34 during treatment), our cancer might be more aggressive. Even if you have to cut your trip to 3 weeks (that's still a long vacation!), you would be going knowing that you've done all you can to prevent recurrence. My suggestion: finish your treatment then relax. Good luck.

    Mimi
  • MAJW
    MAJW Member Posts: 2,510 Member
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    Rads.......
    Jilly,

    Personally I would ask your oncologist and radiologist about starting your rads one week EARLIER......I only had to wait 2 1/2 weeks from finishing chemo to starting radiation.....I was an eager beaver in wanting ALL treatment over with.....no problem......as others have stated the fatigue factor set in about week 4, but I found that fatigue less debilating than the chemo fatigue......I was very fortunate, I did not burn badly at all......turned really pink, then the last 7 boosters turned the tumor area VERY RED......I was ever so faithful during radiation to use the creams that I was given.........I put it on 4 times a day, starting immediately after each treatment, before I got redressed......I NEVER failed to do this....A lot also depends on your skin tone......I tan easily....You probably will be advised to SKIP the sauna and steam baths...You don't want ANYTHING that warm on the radiated breast..it is very tender and sensitive...Fair people have a much harder time, I
    believe...EVERYONE is different and reacts differently.....But again, I would ask about starting a week earlier rather than skipping the last week.......I don't think your radiation oncologist would recommend that at all.....but it is your decision.....I think MIMIVAC gave some really sound advice, especially being as young as you are......You don't want any regrets down the road.......

    I wish you the best in making your decision.......and when EVER you go on your vacation, I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, restorative time!
    Nancy
  • Rague
    Rague Member Posts: 3,653 Member
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    Have you talked about
    Have you talked about starting earlier? You said that you were done with chemo - i know we are all different but I started rads one week to the day after my last Taxol - so it's a thought to ask about. Or ask about putting it off til you're back from vacation?

    Someone mentioned asking about doubling up - that would scare me BIG time - potential of BAD burns that could prevent you from going on the vacation all together. 5 weeks ago I finished 25 rads (no boosters) and the last 3 really burned me BAD - I still have sores though most of the area is basically healed finally. I wouldn't have been able to have enjoyed anything that you want to - the pools/etc. as for the first 3 weeks the entire radiation area was an open burn.

    I had no problems with fatigue while doing rads - no i wasn't up to what I was before all this started last Aug but every day got better. If I did too much and got tired a nice little snooze took care of it.

    Talk to your Drs - they are the ones that know YOUR case/situtation!

    Enjoy getting away.
  • survivorbc09
    survivorbc09 Member Posts: 4,374 Member
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    mimivac said:

    Hi Jilly,
    Your vacation sounds great and I understand your desire to take the whole month of June. It sounds so relaxing. As far as fatigue, you may or may not experience fatigue during radiation. I didn't, but many do. You never know how exactly how you'll react. I took a week of vacation in the four weeks between chemo and rads. Could you maybe do it that way?

    As for your larger question of shaving a week off of rads, I would think very carefully about this. That's forgoing about 17% of your treatment. That last week is usually when they do the boosters to the local tumor bed to really eradicate any lingering cancer cells in that area. Unforutnately, because of our age (I was 34 during treatment), our cancer might be more aggressive. Even if you have to cut your trip to 3 weeks (that's still a long vacation!), you would be going knowing that you've done all you can to prevent recurrence. My suggestion: finish your treatment then relax. Good luck.

    Mimi

    If you can't start early, if
    If you can't start early, if I were you, I would do all of the rads and miss one week of vacation. Like everyone said, radiation treatments are to kill any stray cancer cells that might be lurking, and, I wouldn't want to cut the treatment short and take any chance that by cutting them short, it wouldn't work. Good luck with your decision.