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Post Radiation Depression

alessia's picture
Posts: 40
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi Ladies, Finally, finished with 25 rads treatments but feeling depressed and upset.
Shouldn't I be celebrating? Also taking Femara (letrozole). Maybe that's what's causing the depression, down mood, fatigue, etc. Please let me know if anyone has experienced
these symptoms and how you resolved. Thanks so much and God Bless, Alessia

pinkkari09's picture
Posts: 878
Joined: Sep 2009

Good morning Alessia, I start radiation shortly (35 treatments), so I don't know the connection between radiation and depression, but I do know that on this cancer roller coaster ride my modes have been up and down. I cry at the drop of a hat (maybe because I had my ovaries removed during bilateral mastectomy) I try really hard to be upbeat because I know our mood effects our healing. I have no post radiation advice for you but I do have prayers going up for you!!
Big Hugs and Mountains of Love,

TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009


It's VERY common and completely normal to feel sad after completing active treatment. You've spent so many months actively fighting, fighting, FIGHTING cancer, and now...what?

I finished rads two months ago, and have definitely felt adrift, like now what do I do? And friends' and co-workers' expectations that I'm now "back to normal" -- NOT! And of course, all the nagging worries about, what if they didn't get it all?

What's helped me is to take charge of my health and my recovery as much as I possibly can -- I exercise, even if just a little, every day, and plan my meals for the week carefully to eat as much fruits and vegetables as I can, get a little protein at every meal, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

I can't recommend highly enough the book After Breast Cancer: A Common-Sense Guide to Life After Treatment, by Hester Hill Schnipper. The author is an oncology social worker and 2-time breast cancer survivor, and she GETS IT like no one else. I literally carried that book around with me for weeks after I finished treatment -- if I could, I would buy it for every single woman finishing treatment. It's available on Amazon.

For now, Alessia, just now that what you're feeling is normal, and try to start to take some small steps to take back some control of your body and your recovery.


alessia's picture
Posts: 40
Joined: Oct 2009

Thank you so much for your good advice. I know that most women go thru similar emotions and that it's not easy at all but it's good to know that there are smart women on this site who are willing to share and express their compassion. God Bless all of you, Alessia
p.s. I am watching my diet, exercising, etc. Need to be more optimistic. One step at a time and will get there. To a new place, stronger, tranquil and confident.

pitt's picture
Posts: 388
Joined: Aug 2009

The fatigue was the main culprit in my case. Two weeks post radiation and I am starting to feel a little better. I am an introvert by nature, so I created events where I was forced to spend time with others (lunch with friends, errands at my kids' school, etc.) Just getting dressed each day and seeing people, walking, light exercise, has been helping me. But there were also days where I did nothing but sit on the couch and watch reruns on tv. Just remember to be kind to yourself and take baby steps. You'll get there in time. Pitt

Posts: 20
Joined: Oct 2009

My radiation just ended on 2/22 and I have been depressed, fearful, lost, and grieving! Like you, I thought I would be glad that treatment was over...more time to do things, no appointments, life returning to normal. But that didn't happen. I liked going to radiation every day...I felt like I was doing something. I loved my radiation techs and I miss them terribly. We had a great time!! When it ended, I felt like I fell off a cliff...no one to care for me anymore. (which is totally untrue!)

I too am trying to take control of my life...eating better, trying to start an exercise program, rest, etc. It does help. I'm also going to allow myself to cry when I feel like it. Things are not back to normal...I don't even know what normal is anymore, but I'm going to figure it out. It's just going to take a little time even though I want to feel better NOW!


alessia's picture
Posts: 40
Joined: Oct 2009

I know, isn't that the weirdest thing? Missing the techs and doctors who were taking care of me - geez, very strange. But very true, felt protected and now am out on my own once again. You'd think that out on my own is the right place to be wouldn't you? Surely, the radiation group is not a club I want to join!
Good luck Penny. Sounds like you have stuff figured out and by the way me too, I WANT TO FEEL BETTER NOW!
Hugs, Alessia
p.s. returning to normal is what i was thinking but that normal no longer exists. It's a newer stronger place we want to find. take very good care.

Posts: 1521
Joined: Jan 2010

I don't know if I'm depressed - maybe. I do know that I am so tired that I can barely function. I have negative energy level. Okay appetite but absolutely no desire to get off my butt (or out of bed) to even make a pbj. Good grief! And I only had rads (no chemo) following lumpectomy.


Posts: 285
Joined: Nov 2009

I was the same way w/my rads...also no chemo and lumpectomy. Though you may have some depression, it's likely the radiation. If you're concerned though, you should definitely talk to your rad onc doc. They can presribe antidepressants if you need them.

Hang in there...both of you! I think we feel very empowered when in active treatment (chemo/rads/surgery) and then when it's done, you almost feel like you aren't doing anything. That's that new "normal" everyone talks about...i don't think we are the same people we were before we got our diagnosis. I found i regained my strength pretty quickly after rads was over, though not 100% yet and i'm a month out from completion.

Blessings to both of you....

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