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Radiation and swimming

rjjj's picture
Posts: 1826
Joined: Jan 2009

I was wondering..my daughter wants us to go swimming when i am in Billings doing radiation. I don't know if the chlorine in the water will hurt my skin? also any suggestions on bathing suits and prosthesis? Thanks
love you all

Moopy23's picture
Posts: 1753
Joined: Jan 2009

Hi, Jackie, I am sure you'll be hearing from folks, but I remember there is a thread from awhile back. I think the title is Swimming and Prosthesis. Lots of good info there. Maybe Re was one of the posters? Not sure. Anyway, you might check it out along with new posts.

So glad you and your daughter are planning fun things while you are in Billings. Hope that chlorine is ok and you two can swim like dolphins!

mimivac's picture
Posts: 2147
Joined: Dec 2008

I asked my doctor just this question and I will tell you what she said. She loves swimming as exercise, especially to expand range of motion and reduce tightness on the radiated side. However, she is concerned about (1) the chlorine irritating the radiated skin and, more importantly, (2) The risk of infection due to others in the pool. So, the solutions are to either have your own pool, or swim in a pool right after it's been cleaned, alone. My gym has one person "endless" pools and she recommends that I sign up to be the first one to use the pool after it's been cleaned. She's very laid back with her restrictions, so I took this one seriously. Any chance you'll have access to a private pool?


Jeanne D's picture
Jeanne D
Posts: 1867
Joined: Mar 2009

I am sure that all radiation oncologist's differ somewhat, but, mine told me no swimming in chlorinated pools. He said it would irritate the skin and I could get a possible infection. And trust me, with radiation, you don't want anything else irritating your skin. It may take a few weeks for you to see the changes in your skin to the radiated area, but, don't be fooled...your skin will get damage from the radiation. So, please take care of it. And Jackie, just call your radiation oncologist..see what they say. But, they will probably say the same thing. Just take care of yourself!

p.s. And, don't be lured into a false sense of security. Your skin will be affected by the radiation and not in a good way. I don't want to scare you, but, I don't want anyone who is taking radiation treatments or will be, to possibly do things they shouldn't, just because they see nothing happening to the radiated area for weeks of treatment. I was at least in my 4th week of treatment before I even saw a little pink. Just be careful with your skin. Ask your own radiation oncologist or call them before you do something that you don't know if you should or not. Ok..that is the end of my lecture. lol

Christmas Girl's picture
Christmas Girl
Posts: 3691
Joined: Apr 2009

Swimming? As others have already stated, check with your own rad onc. My instinct tells me probably not - because chlorine is very drying to the skin (and hair). And as someone else warned - the side effects of rads are cumulative, just as they are with chemo. You may be going along for weeks, no problem. Then, it's as if the skin says: "Enough! Can't take it anymore!" So, just check with your doctor...

I believe the TLC portion of this ACS site (or, www.tlcdirect.org) offers both prosthesis specifically for swimming, and the appropriate bathing suits. I've also heard that landsend.com (not their catalog) also has a good selection of bathing suits for mastectomy patients.

Even if you cannot swim during rads, you can still accompany your daughter. You can wear a suit, sit on the edge of the pool, and let your feet dangle in the water. Or, just stand in the shallow end. Or even just stretch out in a lounge chair poolside - maybe catch a little cap nap while she's swimming!

I'll be hoping it all goes well for you, Jackie!

Kind regards, Susan

Posts: 494
Joined: Nov 2007

You may want to consider a "swim top" which is a light weight shirt that is SPF 50 or 60 to help prevent further exposure to harmful UV rays. I spent the winter in Florida and I love the pool. Every time I went, I wore my shirt over my bathing suit. I felt comfortable and safe. Just google SPF garments and they'll give you several web sites. I'm sorry that I can't remember the name of the place where I ordered mine. I also know that Bass Pro Shops carry a line of SPF wear. Go - have fun. Enjoy. Hugs, Marilynn

Alexis F's picture
Alexis F
Posts: 3602
Joined: May 2009

I haven't started radiation treatments yet, but, I have met with my radiation onocologist and one of the things that he said not to do was go swimming in a chlorinated pool. It won't be good for your radiated skin and there would be a good chance of getting an infection and you don't want that. It just wouldn't be worth it. But, I am sure, your own radiation oncologist will tell you what you can and can't do.

Christmas Girl's picture
Christmas Girl
Posts: 3691
Joined: Apr 2009

Yes, always best to follow one's own doctor's instructions. Radiation equipment varies, too - a fact most of us never even consider. Chlorine is very, very drying to the skin. Which is why most rad oncs advise against it.

Kind regards, Susan

Alexis F's picture
Alexis F
Posts: 3602
Joined: May 2009

I never thought about the radiation equipment varying that much. But, I guess there could be "old" machines and "new ones. The one at the cancer center I will be having radiation at is less than a year old. So, I hope that means it is a good one. They said it cost millions of dollars.

Posts: 826
Joined: Jun 2007

I agree with all these posts: Chlorine is drying to the skin, dangers of infection when swimming in public pools, dangers of sun exposure...

I wonder if a pool that uses "salt water" instead of chlorine would be safer?

Definitely ask your Dr. and follow his/her advice. You can still go and have fun, even if you are not swimming.

Take care of yourself. seof

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

keep area covered and sun screen. The dr saw I was wearing tank top one day said that I whould be shirt to make sure to cover all area...I think I wore t shirt while swimming! I did not have chapping, rash or burn....That may be why it didnt' bother me..

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