Starting Radiation Treatments

simmonsg Member Posts: 33
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I am in need of advice and guidance such as I have received from this site in the past. I am to begin 33 radiation treatments beginning this Thursday. I completed my chemo on July 29th (3 rounds of A/C and 3 rounds of taxol). The radiation oncologist reviewed the possible side effects, but I wanted to check with people who have experienced it first hand. What should I expect - any side effects - and any advice on things to help side effects.

Thanks in advance.


  • jamjar62
    jamjar62 Member Posts: 135
    I completed my radiation on July 30 so congrats to both of us for reaching a milestone!

    I didn't see any skin changes until about 10 days to 2 weeks into radiation. The skin over my collarbone got bright red and hurt like a sunburn. Then later into radiation, the skin under my arm (especially around my lymph node dissection scar) was itchy and tender and very brown. The underside of my breast was also tender and itchy and a few dark freckles sprung up! I applied Aquaphor healing ointment to the burned spots and this seemed to help the skin not to split or get oozy. I put cortisone ointment under my breast at the suggestion of my radiation onc since it tends to stay moist under there and that makes it more itchy. I actually used the cortisone cream that my regular onc prescribed for me when I had horrible hemorrhoids from chemo. At first it kinda grossed me out to think of that but it was stronger cortisone than I could buy over the counter and I had lots left. So I guess I used it from top to bottom....

    I started putting Aquaphor on my skin even before I saw any reaction. I think it helped my skin to heal more quickly. The spot on my collarbone is undetectable and it was really angry looking. I just kept slathering it on. Use a mild soap and don't scrub, of course.

    I had no noticable fatigue. The worst part is being tied down to a daily appointment. It made for a pretty boring summer for my kids.

    Once a week, they will retake films to make sure they are still hitting the right spots and that takes a bit more time but for the most part, I was only on the table about 10 minutes and then for the last week, when I had my boost, about 3 minutes.

    It's starting to thunder and lightning so I'd better get off the computer!

  • rizzo15
    rizzo15 Member Posts: 153 Member
    I've finished 18 of 28 radiation treatments so far. The first appointment, simulation, was easy. That is where they make your little custom foam back & arm rest, and put the little tattoos on you. The only painful part was the second appointment, verification, where I couldn't move my arm and body for 50 minutes straight while they reverify the measurements they took the first time. Even though I was doing my post-mastectomy exercises for close to 45 minutes per day, it was still difficult. They said that everyone finds that verification appointment difficult. I thought my rib cage and back were paralyzed and needed to have both radiation assistants pull me into a sitting position afterwards.

    The regular appointments have been a "piece of cake". No pain whatsoever. It's hard to believe they are doing anything to me. Now I find I want to take a little nap on Saturday afternoons, but since I'm still working full time and bicycle a couple times during the work week, I don't think that's extremely unusual. I had a break of 5 weeks between the last IV of Taxol (4 rounds total) and starting radiation. And it had also been 5 months since my mastectomy. So, my skin is holding up really well. KNOCK ON WOOD! Hardly even a trace of dryness. The radiology assistant had asked me to purchase a couple of big bottles of as close to 100% Aloe as I could get. I smear it all over the radiation site 3 hours before my radiation appointment. Then I apply it again in the evening before I go to bed. So far, so good. I'm a naturally light brown skinned person and don't normally ever get sun burned. So this may also be a reason my skin has not gotten awfully red and cracked so far--other than the relatively long period between chemo/surgery and radiation.

    My chemo therapy oncologist and my radiation oncologist claimed they wanted all the chemicals from chemotherapy to wash out of my body before starting radiation. I guess I didn't worry about the break in treatment because I know that if you are a really, really bad case they make you do chemo and radiation at the same time. And that is supposed to be really hard on the body.

    My radiologist has been wonderful about keeping my appointments on time. She knows I use my lunch hour every day to make my appointment.
  • SCmom
    SCmom Member Posts: 46
    I didn't have the type of radiation you did, but wanted to give you some words of encouragement. Keep coming to this site, they give great advice. Be strong and take one day at a time. laura