CSN Login
Members Online: 15

You are here

mask for radiation...?

Posts: 61
Joined: Feb 2011

Ive read many people referring to a mask used for radiation. Is that used for all types of Cancers diagnoses or only specific ones? Certain types of radiation also?

Mom has unknown primary, to my understanding they most likely are going to radiate " all over" in common head and neck locations.

thanks, just wondering

trying to get all info i can

Scambuster's picture
Posts: 973
Joined: Nov 2009

Search this board for a thread 'surviving the mask'.


honeybelle22's picture
Posts: 70
Joined: Feb 2011

Hi Bpell, Follow the advice Scambuster and HAL have said and read the threads. of info there.
For me in the beginning I was scared...fear of the unknown. But now I look back on it and think it wasn't that bad. From what I underestand , yes, they use mask with head and neck radiation. Radiation is very precise so they don't want the patient moving their neck and looking around. First, they custom make it for you...takes about an hour. After that when you go for treatments you're in and out in about 15-20- mins. My appointments where very early so I would be still sleepy (my choice) and I also took a mild sedative before going. The staff was wounderful and we all made friends so in time I looked forward to seeing them.They played smooth jazz for me..my favorite. Also...I developed a trick in my head while radiation going on. I shopped...picked out something I wanted and thought about getting it etc. The staff would laugh when they caught on and ask what I had bought and how much I had spent. LOL
Remember the staff are very aware of the fears we all have and will work with your mom with meds and support. So, relax and educate yourself. Best wishs and prayers Rose

LilTexLady's picture
Posts: 16
Joined: Mar 2011

Many people are get a bit anxious with the fitting of the mask, to using it every day. I personally would alter my way of thinking. For the fitting, I closed my eyes and pretended I was at a spa getting a warm facial. During the radiation process, I used that time for relaxation from my day. Thinking I was at a beach, etc. It really is all in the mind.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Yes, in reality it may very well be in your mind. But physically, it can also be very much in your body...

I am a very big opponenet to Mind Over Matter. But under those conditions an circumstances, I had enough other things going on, that the anxiety of dealing with the Mask was more than I wanted to try and out think.

I opted for Xanax...whether it satisfied my thought process or physically helped I'm not sure (and didn't really care), it worked.

Xanax took the edge off of the anxiety, and allowed me to drive to and from treatment. I only need it for a few days, after that my mind knew the drill and I could deal with it for the remaining seven plus weeks of the daily grind.


sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

I was pretty close to needing a Xanax or something to get thru that mask. I can understand why some people couldn't do it with out meds. First of all, it hurt. Especially my first time. I had bruises under my eye brows and broken capilaries on my eye lids because the mask was so tight. Also waffle prints on my face every day. They did cut my eye holes out for me that first day. I had a migraine when I went home that first day. My head was pounding. The eye holes made it slightly more bearable. I brought in my favorite dance/club music to make the 30 minutes go faster. I tried slow, calm music, but it didn't relax me. It just made it drag.

I tried to project myself out of me- having fun dancing to my favorite tunes. All my years of meditation, biofeedback and prayer were put into play pretty heavily with that.

Honestly, I feel like that could be a form of torture, being bolted down to a table for a half hour. It sucked.

Posts: 97
Joined: Feb 2010

Fitting that thing was excuse the expression was a booger for me. I had to go twice before it was fitted as I freaked out the first time. I am claustrophobic anyway and being clamped down with that thing was so bad. My brain surgeons or better yet idiot radialogist did not even offer any drugs to help me get through this. I would have liked to have seen some of them have to experience this. Not wishing anyone to have this cancer, just wishing that I would have had more compassionate people handling my treatment. Well I did make it through thirty five treatments and this way just a little over four years ago. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are facing this horrible experience. I still have that mask somewhere as I kept it to remind me to never go through this again, no matter what.

fisrpotpe's picture
Posts: 1349
Joined: Aug 2010

I was told recently that they have two different material shapes. One is just the sheet and the other has the eye's precut out. Apparently many of the treat centers only carry one and do not offer the option. I know several people who has asked/fought to have the eye's cut out and finally they cut them out. The material with the eye's precut out makes it harder to fit in the right place and it may take a few times to get it right so they do not want to spend the moneys on those that do not work.

Having the eye's open would be a huge benefit, I suggest you ask for the eye's to be open in the mesh.

Mine was unknown and they did the all over plan with added at the actual tumor.


soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Here is what I had to say about the mask, at the time, more or less:

Later, after release from the hospital and confirmation that all of my mad dreams were not true, I enjoyed chemotherapy: day-long lounges in easy chairs with needles in my arm and balloon-sized, well, balloons, filled with chemical wonders infiltrating my immune system. During all of this, I was receiving radiation treatments, daily, for seven weeks. As a claustrophobe, I was not enamored of the idea of having my face pinned down to a table in a fiberglass mask for 30 to 45 minutes. In fact, I advised the medical folks I would rather die than go through this for seven weeks, but they opted to ignore me. From this, I can tell you two things: I had never taken valium before but suddenly realized it was one of the greatest inventions since the wheel, and, two, music is the greatest clock in the world. I calculated that every song was three minutes long, and used this to help me get through the dragging, dragging minutes to the end of each session.

As time passed, I made the effort to reduce my valium dose, but never went without the music, and never really got used to being bolted down to a table. Of all of the experiences I had, this, the radiation, the mask, is the part I would least wish on anyone. And yet, if I can do it, anyone can. I'm not saying I did it with grace and courage, but I did it. (You should know: after the trial episode, I DID say I was going to have to die, because I was not going to go through this, and they finally offered me to stay in the hospital like the children, so that I could get drugs and so forth, and I actually said YES!!! That sounds good to me!!! And they shook their heads as if to tell me I was a wimp and then the doc said, "You are a wimp." Ultimately, I was not allowed that option.)

I wish your mom and her family the best.

Take care,


Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2011

The answer to your question is YES. The main reason for the mask is so you don't move your head. The reason is that her doctor will map out the area's that need treatment. I did it for two weeks and it was kind of scary, you have to close your eyes and think of good things. Hope this helped/

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

For me, 1/2-tab of Xanax less than 30-minutes before my rad session helped a lot. The physical problem of saliva build-up and the inability to swallow, with the pharynx being like a bowl as one lays on one's back, was the physical problem I had. They cut an area away on the mask below the chin to help with being able to swallow; however, I found that holding my mouth in a position of "overbite" with the backs of my top teeth held down on the front of my bottom teeth reduced the saliva thing. Trial and error. My sessions usually lasted some 25-minutes with getting zapped in 20 different places, which is probably typical. Wish I could have found the perspective of the Texas lady, but I never did.


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Like you mentioned....

If you aren't intimate with the machine and routine in the beginning you definitely will be by the end of treatment.

I knew every position, click, buzz, zap and timing for each of those 15 - 20 minutes.

Three - five songs on the CD and I was finsihed and waiting to be unstrapped for the day....

It was a lot like the movie Ground Hogs Day during that time....same thing day, after day, after day, after day.....


D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1576
Joined: Jan 2010

Yes, it was very much like the move "Groundhog Day" now that you mention it.

I told the technicians I would lie down gracefully, if they cut out the eye holes for me. Otherwise, it was going to be me sniveling, whimpering and choking on my own snot. The Techs chose to cut the eye holes. The rest is history.


Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2011

I had radiation to the jaw and I know I had a hard time putting that mask on and getting strapped to that table everyday...my best advice is to try to find something that is relaxing to you..maybe a great memory or something you need to do for that day to keep your thoughts busy and not thinking about that moment...if anxiety is too great talk to your doctor they are sure to understand. Good luck to you and your family.

ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! The mask was not a big deal for me. I'm not making light of the experiences of my fellow cancer survivors. I only want to post that there is a wide range of experiences. If I needed medication, I certainly would have asked for it.

I ended up by asking the techs to hold the mask over me and allowing me some 30 seconds to position myself. Then when I gave them the sign they secured the mask. Very small differences in head position can affect the comfort?? of the mask. Comfort is a strange word is this context. But I did notice that the mask seemed extremely tight on some days; while on others, it was more or less well fitted. So I started to make sure I lined my head up.

This advice will only be good for those than have a minimum of anxiety.

One should also add, that the treatment is only a couple of minutes. Sometimes, a pre-treatment scan is taken which also takes a couple of minutes.

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Normally if they are going to do radiation anywhere to the head or neck they will make a Mask to keep the head from moving during treatment; one little mistake can cause a lot of problems. But I find it is not a big deal, in fact I kept both of my Masks as a reminder that life has its many ups and downs. I just look back at those times and thanks God for pulling me through the tuffes times in my life and for extending my life so I can be with my wife and grandkids.

All the best to you

Subscribe to Comments for "mask for radiation...?"