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first time mask sucked

scare d cat
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2010

my first time using the mask was pretty tramatic for me. I could not finish. Going back on monday. If anybody had a hard time with the mask and was able to overcome please write me with your sucess story

pattyanny's picture
Posts: 544
Joined: Jul 2009

Yes, it does suck! I found going to a good place "in my mind" helped a lot. I prayed, sang songs, recited poems, hymns in my head, which coincided with the revolutions of the machine.
One thing I learned, being 10 months out of TX, do not be afraid to ask for help! I used anti-anxiety meds, which are non-addicting, and calms the mind and body, yet they do not make you stupid. Towards the middle of TX, I could lay there and count the revolutions by the sound of the machine, and know when it would soon be over. The techs also gave me a ring I could hold on tight to - that helped a lot. You can do this! I hope this helps, and I am sure "the experts" on this forum will have more info for you. They got me thru - God bless them! Please keep in touch, and know you CAN do this! I believe - now you have to!
God bless you! Patty

luv4lacrosse's picture
Posts: 1410
Joined: Jul 2010

I am start my 4th Radiation Monday. Day one for me was also miserable. I managed to make it through the scan portion and yelled out to the tech. I was hyperventillating. He came in and basically coached me back into breathing long slow deep breaths. In a minute or so I was able to start my radiation. I take .5 to 1MG of Atavan 40 min. prior to my treatment, this seems to help relax me. Practice at home by breathing through your nose 5-10 times and then swith to your mouth for the same. This might help you to feel like you are filling your lungs with air.
Have the techs play your favorite music, anything that will help to put you somewhere other than where you are.
The best piece of advice I received was to count the number of rotations the machine makes around your head until your treatment is finished. Mine for example is 29-30 rotations. It should stay consistent for the duration of your treatment. I know now that when I hit the 25 mark, it will be over quickly.This little technique will most likely get me off of the Ativan.




Posts: 363
Joined: Feb 2010

Dont be, mine was terrible at first, My eyes naturally closed because it was so tight. So I took that as a cue to go to sleep. They shimmed mine up about 5mm, I am a natural nose breather so that part didn't bother me. The techs had plenty of CDs to listen too so I just went off to dreamland. My gun moved so many times I couldn't even try to count it, when I heard the thud of the door, I knew I was finished.
As others have mentioned dont be afraid to ask for help,the techs know what you are going thru, at least mine did. I was lucky to overcome my fear with a positive mental attitude.
Best Wishes & Prayers, you too will make it thru just like the rest of us

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

You can do it, they are consistant...

Mine always started witht he machine directly overhead (before it started). Once they were ready, the machine would rotate to the bottom left position. Then you'd here it hum for a few seconds, shutting off and on. It would do this about 8 - 12 times depending on location.

Then it would rotate up about 1/8th the way and do it again. LOL, can't remember now, bt it was about five rotations on each side, not dirctly centered over me though (except Mondays). Mondays they started first in the middle for a few X-Rays, then started the rotation bottom left as normal.

I counted the rotations and new the position of the machine relative to the ceiling tiles, LOL. My main thing was the CD...It was a James Taylor, same one the entire time, but different starting points. Anyways, I knew the treatment was over somewhere around the fourth song.....


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

I had a lot of anxiety going in...

My chemo MD wrote me a prescription for Xanax. I'd take a Xanax before getting to the rads center. They'd play my CD I brought, lower the lights, give me a warm blanket, and I was good to go.

The Xanax just took the edge off, I could still drive myself and function fine.

I only needed it for about a week. After the first few days, I'd be pretty zapped in the evenings. So after those first few days, I'd pinch them in half. Then by the middle of the second week, I didn't need them any longer.


JUDYV5's picture
Posts: 392
Joined: Jun 2010

Focus on the outcome - Life. You are doing this for a reason.

RushFan's picture
Posts: 223
Joined: Aug 2010

Every day I would dred the mask. Three things really helped me. Make that four.
1. Prayer.
2. Early on, I viewed the mask as a positive that could help save my life.
3. I noticed several other masks in the treatment room. If they could do it, and I reasoned some were just as uncomfortable as I was....so could I.
4. Music. I always requested music...did care what kind, just wanted the distraction.

All the best to you and all here.

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

A 1/2-tab of Xanax about 1/2-hour before my scheduled rad did wonders for me. Would advise against the Morph.
Also, I found a position to hold my mouth in that really helped- overbite, with my top teeth in front of the lower, and breathing mostly thru the mouth.

Bottom-line: you gotta get real/tough. Nobody likes the mask, but it's something that just has to be. My sessions lasted over 20-minutes, and it's my experience that once you get a couple of sessions under your belt, then it'll become easier. Also, ask the Drs. about Xanax, or another med, to help you.


Irishgypsie's picture
Posts: 333
Joined: May 2010

Overall the above is excellent advice.

1. Ativan- 1mg
2. I made a bunch of music cds.
3. I sued a tomo machine so know counting rotations but they place some pictures of the ocean and sailboats up above me to help relax--any pictures are good that make u happy-loved ones, dogs, happy place, picture of krmaer, etc.
4. They cut the eyes and nose out for me so I didn't fell so claustrophic and I only ***** shorts and a wife beater, for clothes- I would get real warm and it helped with the claustraphobia.

Good Luck!!

Irishgypsie's picture
Posts: 333
Joined: May 2010

Overall the above is excellent advice.

1. Ativan- 1mg
2. I made a bunch of music cds.
3. I used a tomo machine so know counting rotations but they place some pictures of the ocean and sailboats up above me to help relax--any pictures are good that make u happy-loved ones, dogs, happy place, etc.
4. They cut the eyes and nose out for me so I didn't fell so claustrophobic and I only ***** shorts and a wife beater, for clothes- I would get real warm and it helped with the claustrophobia.

Good Luck!!

matthewcplourde's picture
Posts: 33
Joined: Sep 2010

Though I'm still agnostic after my experiences, his suggestions are great!

Drift away (or segment, whichever works) to another place and try to enjoy the music. Take strength in knowing that you are not alone - some of us have gones through it already, others are currently going through it and others have yet to start.

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

Lots of folks have a really rough time at first. I had music of my choice playing, and talked myself down when I got antsy. It helped me to think of the mask not trapping me to the table so the machine could zap me - I focused on the idea that the mask was helping me hold my head in place so the machine could do a better job of zapping only the cells that needed to go and not healthy ones. I couldn't open my eyes or mouth at all, so was very glad I am a nose breather. I tried several times to count my clicks and zaps, but was never able to make it the whole way through (there were a LOT). I could, however, track sets - a few clicks and zaps, then the machine would move to the next location and start again. Better luck Monday - you'll get through (still no fun, though). Do well.

Duggie88's picture
Posts: 703
Joined: Feb 2010

The mask truly SUCKED but you have to put that out and think about something else. I found thinking about my grandkids and future things in my life was very helpfull. The mask seemed to be less restricting if you can take control of your mind thinking about something else. I thought 30 days of treatment would be a lifetime but I got through it and so can you.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

I'm usually a big advocate of mind over matter....but for me drugs worked better at first... :)

CajunEagle's picture
Posts: 398
Joined: Oct 2009

Every day at the Center, when I would check in, they would give me one of those light flashing/buzzer devices that one gets when trying to get a table at a crowded resturant. My anxiety would sorta begin when that buzzer would go off. That meant that it was my time for TOMO Therapy. I handled the mask fairly easily (due to what Chuck said above). By looking at everybody else waiting for therapy, and seeing all the masks in the rad room, I knew I could do it without causing the techs a problem. My treatment was everyday for 36 straight days, which I think was a positive in that I didn't have "no treatment days" were I would have time to think about it. I've been post treatment 15 months, but will always remember the appointment time was 9:13am everyday and 33 rotations. The elderly lady before me had lots of problems, and that would usually set my appointment time back around 12-14 minutes. They were always glad to see me. To this day, I hate those reservation buzzers at resturants.


Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2010

I would close my eyes and graphically imagine the radiation as little bullets finding their target. When I heard the machine fire, I would comically visualize the cancer cells saying(in a cartoon helium voice), "Oh no! I got hit...I'm dying". I'd respond saying, "Good riddance, and we're coming after all your little friends too. I'd laugh inside. Of course I still could not get out of there fast enough, however, every session seemed shorter than the last.
Sometimes I would think about the young vets deployed over seas, and how what I was going through was much more of a blessing than what they were/are volunteering to go through. Gratitude is the very key to happiness. It is at the root of the "can do" spirit.
I grew close to my mask. It hangs in my closet still, except when I put a hat on it, belt it into the passenger seat of my car, and use it to drive in the carpool lane(kidding on the latter).
This is just another one of life's little challenges, everyday through treatment, is a little victory on which much pride and strength will be garnered. Don't be a cancer victim, be a cancer assassin. You'll be fine.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Welcome to the wacky world of our forum NavVet....

You've docked in a wonderful island of knowledge, experience and caring people... Some like myself have developed a little wacked humor, so just a small forewarning on that... ;)

Start a new member topic and tell us about yourself. There are always the best people on here willing to listen, vent, and share our experience, knowledge and un-professional opinions, LOL.


ekdennie's picture
Posts: 236
Joined: Aug 2010

I have only had my trial run so far with the mask...they kept having to take it off and put it back on (their fault, not mine). I was not clausterphobic before, but I may be before my treatments are over. Each time I got scared, I thought about my 12 year old cousin, who had to use a mask for radiation treatments too. If he could do it, and laugh afterwards, then I surely hope I can find some way as well. I don't think anyone who hasn't worn one of those masks has any clue what they feel like. good luck!

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2010

Very interesting reading comments of those who have had the mask shrunk over their face and locked to the table. When the tech first pulled it out of the water and placed it over my face, I thought, "this will be a piece of cake." Then, it began to cool and shrink. I got pretty paranoid. At the first trip back, I had to ask her to trim the throat opening because it was impinging on my "Adam's Apple". After that, the fit was good.

What consistently bothered me was the feeling of being locked down to the table. I didn't realize until half-way through the 30 sessions that the locking mechanisms were plastic and not steel. For some reason that gave me some mental relief.

I highly recommend taking your own music! Also, counting the clicks (as some have mentioned) seemed to make the time pass much easier.

Best of luck to all.

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Welcome here to our faimily on CSN, On my mask I had then cut it so I could see and breed out of it with no problems. If you just ask them they will tell you No they can’t do it, but if you complain to the doc you will find they can do a lot of things.

All the best to you

sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

First time mask sucked, second time mask sucked, third time mask sucked......thirtyith mask sucked. I do not miss the waffle marks on my face. They did have to cut out the eyeholes on mine because it bruised my eyes it was so tight.

I would do square breathing. Breathe in, one two three four, hold two three four, breathe out, two three four. Hold two three four..... They had a cd player in there so I made my own CDs to bring in and listen to. I brought in dance music and made them blast it. I would close my eyes and pretend I was with my friends dancin at the club having fun. I tried slower music, but it didn't distract me enough. I think I am too hyper. Lol. Sometimes with my dance tunes I would have trouble laying still. :) kept my spirits up and made me wanna get up and dance. I still love Rhianna's "Disturbia" but it does make me think of rads. Lol. I also made an 80's new wave mix. The techs asked to keep my CDs so I said sure. One time Jenny kept in her Mama Mia cd. No offense to anyone, I even like Abba, but it was like thirty minutes of torture!!! Lol.

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2009

Get the meds to chill out during the treatments. I freaked out the first time too. But it does get better with the valium. You will get thru it...Good Luck.Pam

Army_Guy's picture
Posts: 53
Joined: Oct 2010

I went through this recently (finished August 12th). I developed a "mantra" that I recited over and over during treatments. In retrospect the words were silly but meant a lot to me at the time. I suggest you do the same; a mantra combined with a litle prayer goes a long way! Stay strong and you will make it through.

hawk711's picture
Posts: 566
Joined: Jan 2010

I listened to the best of Luther Vandross every session....I new the session was over in 4-5 songs and I'd start the CD and sing along in my head to the tunes. Music made the time go so fast I couldn't believe it....the same music every day helped me, because I knew when it was over exactly......I am clostrophobic and know how hard this is but by god anything to kick cancers *** was what I was shooting for....Life, good old life.
Stay focused,

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