Radiation

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Cindy Ann
Cindy Ann Member Posts: 101
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
When does radiation start after lumpectomy? I plan the 33 treatment plan. No chemo as of now. Haven't had surgery yet. The doctor told my husband and I it starts in 2-3 weeks. But her nurse just told me 4-6 weeks. I have a appt next week with the surgeon then possible surgery right away after that the same week.. But now am going insane trying to figure out how to go 5 days a week for 6 1/2 weeks and then get a plan in motion. Only to find out it maybe 4-6 weeks. The nurse said I heard wrong. But my husband said he heard it too. The nurse said they can't start radiation until my breast is healed from lumpectomy. Scary!! Cause what if cancer cells leak fron the duct elsewhere??

Thanks everyone for you helpful answers. It does help.

Cindy Ann

Comments

  • pattimc
    pattimc Member Posts: 431
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    I'm like you....
    Need to have some definite answers so I can get a PLAN!!!

    Let's see, I had a lumpectomy, then chemo, then 33 rads so I was different in that I needed chemo first. But I think the nurse is right....it will be 4-6 weeks after your lumpectomy. It needs to be completely healed before they will radiate.

    Now that I think about it, I had my last surgery (axcillary dissection)June 23 (2009) and didn't start chemo until August 4 so that was about 6 weeks too.

    Another suggestion is to make sure you take good notes when you see your doc. I always had questions written down and wrote down his answers. It's overwhelming and stressful and we don't "hear" everything we should. My husband heard much better than I did because I was so upset.

    Take care!
  • cindycflynn
    cindycflynn Member Posts: 1,132 Member
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    Cindy Ann
    I had chemo after my lumpectomy, so the radiation didn't start until after that for me, but if I hadn't had the chemo, the radiation would have started about a month after surgery.

    I was diagnosed on September 2, 2009, my surgery was on October 14th, I started chemo on December 16th and finished chemo February 17th, and started radiation on March 17th. When I was first diagnosed I was expecting everything to move along much more quickly than that, but as I learned more, I relaxed a bit and realized that the doctors know what they're doing (almost all of the time).

    Between all of the dates there were usually tests and appointments, but I remember feeling that everything was just taking and excruciatingly long time to progress. Once you're diagnosed, you just want to get your plan in place and get started on your treatment so that you can put this all behind you. Unfortunately, it usually takes longer than we'd like to get it done, but other that our frustration, there really isn't a medical downside to waiting, unless of course you have a very aggressive form of cancer. From what I've read here, they usually do move things along more quickly in that case.

    I think that it is a good idea to heal up from your surgery before starting the rads. Your skin will be very sensitive with the rads, and you don't want to create any open sores you don't have to.

    Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor so that they can reassure you about the time frames.

    You might also ask about the Oncotype DX if your doctor hasn't already discussed it with you. It can give you more information about whether chemo would actually benefit you. I was diagnosed at Stage 1 with clear lymph nodes, but ended up doing chemo based on my score on the Oncotype DX.

    Take care,
    Cindy
  • susie09
    susie09 Member Posts: 2,930
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    Cindy Ann
    I had chemo after my lumpectomy, so the radiation didn't start until after that for me, but if I hadn't had the chemo, the radiation would have started about a month after surgery.

    I was diagnosed on September 2, 2009, my surgery was on October 14th, I started chemo on December 16th and finished chemo February 17th, and started radiation on March 17th. When I was first diagnosed I was expecting everything to move along much more quickly than that, but as I learned more, I relaxed a bit and realized that the doctors know what they're doing (almost all of the time).

    Between all of the dates there were usually tests and appointments, but I remember feeling that everything was just taking and excruciatingly long time to progress. Once you're diagnosed, you just want to get your plan in place and get started on your treatment so that you can put this all behind you. Unfortunately, it usually takes longer than we'd like to get it done, but other that our frustration, there really isn't a medical downside to waiting, unless of course you have a very aggressive form of cancer. From what I've read here, they usually do move things along more quickly in that case.

    I think that it is a good idea to heal up from your surgery before starting the rads. Your skin will be very sensitive with the rads, and you don't want to create any open sores you don't have to.

    Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor so that they can reassure you about the time frames.

    You might also ask about the Oncotype DX if your doctor hasn't already discussed it with you. It can give you more information about whether chemo would actually benefit you. I was diagnosed at Stage 1 with clear lymph nodes, but ended up doing chemo based on my score on the Oncotype DX.

    Take care,
    Cindy

    I had rads about 6 weeks
    I had rads about 6 weeks after my lumpectomy. The rads oncologist wants to be sure that you are healed from the surgery before giving you radiation to that area. I was kind of glad to have that time, just to heal, and, to get things in order at home, as I knew that going 5 days a week for 7 weeks was going to zap a lot of my energy, and, it did. Try to be patient and take your treatment one step at a time. I know that is hard to do, but, it will make the waiting a lot easier for you. Just know that you are ridding yourself of the cancer and that soon you will be dancing with NED! ( no evidence of disease )

    Good luck!

    ♠♣ Susie ♠♣
  • aisling8
    aisling8 Member Posts: 1,627 Member
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    susie09 said:

    I had rads about 6 weeks
    I had rads about 6 weeks after my lumpectomy. The rads oncologist wants to be sure that you are healed from the surgery before giving you radiation to that area. I was kind of glad to have that time, just to heal, and, to get things in order at home, as I knew that going 5 days a week for 7 weeks was going to zap a lot of my energy, and, it did. Try to be patient and take your treatment one step at a time. I know that is hard to do, but, it will make the waiting a lot easier for you. Just know that you are ridding yourself of the cancer and that soon you will be dancing with NED! ( no evidence of disease )

    Good luck!

    ♠♣ Susie ♠♣

    Month
    Hi there,

    Starting rads was the ONLY thing that didn't take forever... It would have begun earlier, but we waited for the results of the OncotypeDx test to decide if I was going to have chemo or not.

    I chose a late afternoon appointment so I work till 3:00 then go off to rads. It's not so bad. I'm kinda getting red and it's tiring, but I haven't slept so well at night in years. And since the rads onc said no Arimidex till I'm done, it's a legitimate reason to postpone beginning:)

    Good Luck,
    Victoria
  • DianeBC
    DianeBC Member Posts: 3,881 Member
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    aisling8 said:

    Month
    Hi there,

    Starting rads was the ONLY thing that didn't take forever... It would have begun earlier, but we waited for the results of the OncotypeDx test to decide if I was going to have chemo or not.

    I chose a late afternoon appointment so I work till 3:00 then go off to rads. It's not so bad. I'm kinda getting red and it's tiring, but I haven't slept so well at night in years. And since the rads onc said no Arimidex till I'm done, it's a legitimate reason to postpone beginning:)

    Good Luck,
    Victoria

    Usually, you can more or
    Usually, you can more or less pick a time that is best for you with rads. Some like early in the morning, and, some like later in the day, like I did. Once you get started, it takes longer to dress and undress than the treatment. I was also told to not take tamox while I was taking rads. I still haven't taken it. Not sure I will. Good luck!
  • ckmcclelland
    ckmcclelland Member Posts: 47
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    my radiation started
    My radiation started not quite 4 weeks after my lumpectomy. Would have been better to wait a little longer for my healing but they didn't. Things that I wondered about but didn't know until they started, they scheduled me at the same time every day, you strip to your waist and are given a gown & have to lay flat on your back, wish I'd known I would have to stretch my arm above my head ahead of time because I have shoulder trouble and needed to stretch muscles ahead of time but no one told me. I had 33 treatments which doesn't sound like much but it gets long & dominates your day. I got tired & burned. I got depressed & didn't know it, especially since my oncologist took me off my antidepressant. I had my last radiation treatment over 2 months ago and still can't wear a bra or use a seat belt comfortably. It was more than I expected partly because no one told me what to expect. I thought it was a breeze compared to chemo which I was spared, but it was harder than I thought. Of course, everyone reacts differently. Be sure to use Aquaphor or whatever under your arm as that is part of the treatment area. I didn't know that and no one told me. That's where my worst burning was. You'll make it through OK. If the oncologist tells you to take tamoxifen afterwards, I think you should. You don't want to risk breast cancer returning though tamoxifen is no picnic either with the hot flashes.
  • GrandmaJ
    GrandmaJ Member Posts: 209
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    my radiation started
    My radiation started not quite 4 weeks after my lumpectomy. Would have been better to wait a little longer for my healing but they didn't. Things that I wondered about but didn't know until they started, they scheduled me at the same time every day, you strip to your waist and are given a gown & have to lay flat on your back, wish I'd known I would have to stretch my arm above my head ahead of time because I have shoulder trouble and needed to stretch muscles ahead of time but no one told me. I had 33 treatments which doesn't sound like much but it gets long & dominates your day. I got tired & burned. I got depressed & didn't know it, especially since my oncologist took me off my antidepressant. I had my last radiation treatment over 2 months ago and still can't wear a bra or use a seat belt comfortably. It was more than I expected partly because no one told me what to expect. I thought it was a breeze compared to chemo which I was spared, but it was harder than I thought. Of course, everyone reacts differently. Be sure to use Aquaphor or whatever under your arm as that is part of the treatment area. I didn't know that and no one told me. That's where my worst burning was. You'll make it through OK. If the oncologist tells you to take tamoxifen afterwards, I think you should. You don't want to risk breast cancer returning though tamoxifen is no picnic either with the hot flashes.

    My radiation
    Started 7 weeks after my chemotherapy / lumpectomy, 33 treatments. I only had slight redenning of the skin and no serious burns. I used aquaphor religiously. I continued to wear a bra the entire time of radiation. I did buy a bra extender so the bra was looser. I did have a little fatigue about three weeks after starting, but continued to work. My surgeon must be pretty good, because I never had arm pain or scar pain and I did have lymph nodes removed.

    Judy
  • Cindy Ann
    Cindy Ann Member Posts: 101
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    Radiation
    Thank each and everyone of you for your replies. For me knowledge is power. I feel better about radiation now. I also know more what to expect. You all are my angels. It really has helped me so much just having other women who understand my questions and fears...I now realize not all of us react physcially the same to radiation. So I am now prepared for anything.

    LOve and Hugs, Cindy Ann
  • SunnieC
    SunnieC Member Posts: 37
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    Cindy Ann said:

    Radiation
    Thank each and everyone of you for your replies. For me knowledge is power. I feel better about radiation now. I also know more what to expect. You all are my angels. It really has helped me so much just having other women who understand my questions and fears...I now realize not all of us react physcially the same to radiation. So I am now prepared for anything.

    LOve and Hugs, Cindy Ann

    Thank you everyone who replied here...
    I am scheduled for a lumpectomy next Monday and didn't really know what to expect out of rads either - I was told 4-6 weeks after surgery also but really had no date/time concept till I sat down with my calendar - I just keep telling myself it's one day closer to being free of this temporary setback :)

    Good luck to you Cindy Ann...

    Health and Happieness...
    Sunnie
  • Megan M
    Megan M Member Posts: 3,000
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    Cindy Ann said:

    Radiation
    Thank each and everyone of you for your replies. For me knowledge is power. I feel better about radiation now. I also know more what to expect. You all are my angels. It really has helped me so much just having other women who understand my questions and fears...I now realize not all of us react physcially the same to radiation. So I am now prepared for anything.

    LOve and Hugs, Cindy Ann

    Everyone does react
    Everyone does react differently to rads, noone is the same. The machines vary, the amount of treatments vary, everything. Just try to be patient and not worry about it. You will do fine.
  • survivorbc09
    survivorbc09 Member Posts: 4,374 Member
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    GrandmaJ said:

    My radiation
    Started 7 weeks after my chemotherapy / lumpectomy, 33 treatments. I only had slight redenning of the skin and no serious burns. I used aquaphor religiously. I continued to wear a bra the entire time of radiation. I did buy a bra extender so the bra was looser. I did have a little fatigue about three weeks after starting, but continued to work. My surgeon must be pretty good, because I never had arm pain or scar pain and I did have lymph nodes removed.

    Judy

    Always best to talk to your
    Always best to talk to your oncologist and rads oncologist about these types of questions. They can help ease your mind of anything concerning you. I had rads about 6 weeks after my lumpectomy. It does seem a long time to go, but, it is saving your life, so, it is worth it. Good luck!
  • KayNYC
    KayNYC Member Posts: 495 Member
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    Starting rads
    Hi Cindy Ann,
    I had my lumpectomy with 6 nodes removed on March 17th. My cancer was stage I without node involvement. I start my Rads on May 13. My doctors explained that the surgery needed to heal completely before I could be cleared for Rads. I have had good healing although I did have to deal with a painful seroma for a few weeks.Once I complete rads, I will start the hormone receptor blocker, Armidex. Although I wanted to just "get the rads over with" and "get on with my life" back in March, I am glad that I have had these weeks to heal and regain my strength, as well as, process all that has happened since my diagnosis. I look forward to completing rads and getting on with the business of life and living.
    I returned to work two weeks after the surgery and I am preparing to get my office "in order" before the rad treatments begin at the end of this week. Taking one day at a time and "accepting" that the situation is what it is, meaning that everything will not be within my control or perhaps, the way I would like it to be.
    Good luck with your treatment and keep us posted.
    Hugs, K
  • sbmly53
    sbmly53 Member Posts: 1,522
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    My experience was.....
    Routine mammo 10/28, biopsy 11/12, lumpectomy 12/7. Onco Dx test was very low & I opted out of chemo. Set up for rads (33) on 1/13 and started 1/19, finished 3/5. Burned pretty good, but was able to wear my regular bra a week and a half later. I would have started rads soone - at about 4 weeks, but chemo was still in question.

    We are all different. I also was concerned (terrified, actually) that it could be 'leaking out' and travelling while I was waiting for treatment to start. I just had my 1st mammo and got the all clear. Our fears are not unfounded but if you have undue anxiety, talk to your Drs.

    This wonderful place, with all these amzing women (& men) helped me to cope, to breathe easier, to express my angst and made me laugh when I really needed to.

    Take care - gentle hugs

    Sue
  • susie09
    susie09 Member Posts: 2,930
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    Cindy Ann said:

    Radiation
    Thank each and everyone of you for your replies. For me knowledge is power. I feel better about radiation now. I also know more what to expect. You all are my angels. It really has helped me so much just having other women who understand my questions and fears...I now realize not all of us react physcially the same to radiation. So I am now prepared for anything.

    LOve and Hugs, Cindy Ann

    Glad you feel better now
    Glad you feel better now Cindy Ann about rads! And, you are so right, none of us react the same to the treatment!

    Good luck!
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
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    sbmly53 said:

    My experience was.....
    Routine mammo 10/28, biopsy 11/12, lumpectomy 12/7. Onco Dx test was very low & I opted out of chemo. Set up for rads (33) on 1/13 and started 1/19, finished 3/5. Burned pretty good, but was able to wear my regular bra a week and a half later. I would have started rads soone - at about 4 weeks, but chemo was still in question.

    We are all different. I also was concerned (terrified, actually) that it could be 'leaking out' and travelling while I was waiting for treatment to start. I just had my 1st mammo and got the all clear. Our fears are not unfounded but if you have undue anxiety, talk to your Drs.

    This wonderful place, with all these amzing women (& men) helped me to cope, to breathe easier, to express my angst and made me laugh when I really needed to.

    Take care - gentle hugs

    Sue

    ♥ Cindy Ann ♥
    My radiation treatments, both times, started approximately 6 weeks after each of my lumpectomy's. I had 25 rads in 85 and then 25 regular rads with 12 boosters the 2nd time in 09. Your doctors just want to be sure that you have healed from your surgery, and, that is a good thing. It also gives you time to get some strength back after your surgery. Be sure and use whatever creams that your rads oncologist suggests from the very beginning of your treatment. Get lots of rest and be very gentle with your skin. I wish you the best of luck with your surgery and with your radiation treatments. Post if you have any questions and keep us updated on how you are doing.

    Love, Jeanne ♥
  • jnl
    jnl Member Posts: 3,869 Member
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    Cindy Ann said:

    Radiation
    Thank each and everyone of you for your replies. For me knowledge is power. I feel better about radiation now. I also know more what to expect. You all are my angels. It really has helped me so much just having other women who understand my questions and fears...I now realize not all of us react physcially the same to radiation. So I am now prepared for anything.

    LOve and Hugs, Cindy Ann

    Glad that everyone helped
    Glad that everyone helped you Cindy Ann. Don't be afraid of rads, they kill the stray cancer cells that are left after surgery. Ask all you want.
  • crselby
    crselby Member Posts: 441 Member
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    alternative to external radiation
    Hi Cindy Ann,
    I know you are new to all this, and I sure don't want to drop a fly into the pudding, but since you are still in the planning stage, I want to encourage you to look into brachytherapy radiation. I started my multicatheter brachytherapy a little more than 6 weeks after surgery. (That gave my husband and me time for a shortened version of our full summer vacation to Oregon.) I had a huge cavity from the lumpectomy for DCIS and I tend to swell a lot where my body has been traumatized. So all that had time to heal somewhat.
    Anyway, my heart bleeds for the women who post here about their troubles with skin burning (that's the mild result!) and the daily treks to the office for irradiation. With brachytherapy, you are done in 5 days! And it is just as "potent" as external beam radiation. The kind of brachytherapy I had has been around for over 100 years. Now they have ways to individualize the dosage and to customize it to treat only the tissue needing treatment, not your skin, ribs,heart and lungs! Please ask your docs about it. It is far less traumatic than external beam, if you are lucky enough to be a candidate for it!
    My best wishes to you on your breast cancer journey.
    ~~Connie~~