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Recovery from fatigue after radiation therapy

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2009

I completed radiation therapy for a skull cancer--the "mask business" with a Tomograph machine. I had NO chemo.

Therapy lasted 7 weeks, 5 days a week. I got the max dose.

I was told that the aftermath would be extreme fatigue. Yes, indeed. It was extreme. Also in the mix were hand cramps, coordination and thinking difficulties.

I know that recovery depends on a near-infinite array of factors, so there's no hard and fast schedule. I was going by an estimate that, after two months, I should notice some improvement.

Radiation therapy stopped 10 weeks ago and I still have massive fatigue attacks.

I'd like to get from you folks your own personal experiences with recovery from radiation therapy.

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2009

It's been seven weeks now since I ended a regimen with a linear acceleator very similar to the one rollomoss describes. I had 7 weeks of radiation, with once weekly chemo sessions to enhance the effectiveness of the radiation. Food is very difficult to consume, and I wonder whether the fatigue is from the therapy or borderline malnutrition. Today is September 30, 2009. My hair is still real thin. My moustache was blasted off during treatment. It was originally salt-and-pepper colored; now it's as white as snow.

I missed work today because of extreme fatigue, dizziness, and weakness. Drove about two miles, then went back home. I wish this misery was over with; too many people depend on me. I feel guilty when I let them down by not showing up.

I worry about losing my job because of bad attendance, although I shouldn't. It's a government job where everybody likes me and I do good, experienced work for in sometimes harsh conditions. My career is all that keeps my wife and I off the streets. Reading other people's accounts will help me in judging how long I can expect to endure this ordeal. Unfortunately, there's not enough submitted antecdotes.

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2009

Forgot to elaborate: I had no cancer, but a recurrent benign pleomorphic adenoma. The radiation perforated my right eardrum; I hope surgery will fix it. These stupid tumors kept growing back, so they had to fry the tendrils of the problem in my deep lobe parapharygeneal space.


I will turn 50 years old in November if I don't croak first or lose my bloody mind from stress.


My radiation oncologist wrote a report to excuse my wife from work wherein he described me as an "unfortunate man." I'm inclined to agree. All I ever wanted was to be a good grandfather to my wife's children's children, since I never got to be a parent myself. I want to be a good husband and a good employee. I want to be a good man. I want to be a better man than my father thought I was capable of being.

My aspirations are humble and small. What is life? A chance to become bitterly disappointed with the entire experience? Then why bother?

Grandchild wants to see Elmo on YouTube again. Bbl.

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2009

One more point. The peaks and valleys of energy levels are odious. Makes a man look bad in front of a boss. At least I trust he knows the severity of this situation. I might have to apply for SSI for awhile.

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2009

You sound like I feel. At this point I am saying "why bother?" too. I feel like I can't get on with my life, be a productive citizen, and feel like a lay-about. I wake up, feed myself with the PEG tube, and then go back to bed for 2-3 hours. I get up, eat again, and watch TV, eat, and go back to bed. I had just adopted a dog before all of this and feel so guilty for not playing with him or walking him as often as I should. I'm tired, depressed, and just wish this would go away. I had 6 weeks of radiation to my left cheek and jaw five days a week. I'm a month out of radiation and am sick of the rotten taste in my mouth and miss eating. I keep trying, but it always tastes foul. It's hard to keep up the faith. Hope you are doing better since your post. Good luck to you and God bless. Lisa

Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2010

I had a Grade II Ependymoma in my posterior fossa sitting atop the cerebellum - the control center for all higher functions. After emergency surgery, my life was saved or so I thought until I began radiation. I was advised of all the risks and strongly encouraged to have a course of 6 wks of radiation in the surgical margin as well as the 4th ventricle, deep within the brain near the bottom. I had severe nausea. My life was governed by a cocktail of pills that worked intermittently. If that were not frustrating enough, I am now a year out since the cessation of radiation and recently lost my job due to my inability to be at work full-time. My company was gracious enough to lay me off and not terminate me for cause. I worked through treatment, leaving early as needed. I am taking medicine to help with the stamina, but it also works marginally at best. I started an antidepressant to help with what they thought was depression but now believe enough serotonin producing neurons were affected to cause this. I have been struggling daily, have 3 small children and feel tremendous guilt about not being able to be as active of a mom with them as I once was. I only hope to garner info from this blog about someone else who is further out from the end of treatment to get a better idea of recovery time. I was advised by my oncologist that it varies. I at least recovered from the constant nausea. The remaining symptoms of chronic fatigue have not abated. I am consulting several disability attorneys and am going to seek long-term disability due to the fact that this condition is not improving and looking for work is impossible.

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