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Questions anout pain in rib cage area after radiation plus feeling worse now than when in treatment

Posts: 191
Joined: Nov 2011

The last week Bill has been experiencing some pain on both sides of his rib cage. Almost like a muscle pain as if he pulled something, but he hasn't been doing anything physical. I'm wondering if it could be related to radiation as it is in more or less the same spot on the right and left side of his ribs. Anyone have any experience of anything like this?

He is almost 4 weeks out from the last radiation and chemo and we will be heading back in a little under 2 weeks for the full battery of retests. We were warned that the radiation can continue to keep working in the body and that he might feel worse before he felt better. That has definitely proved true. He never once threw up during treatment but has done do several times since. Usually in the morning - we wonder if it is taking the painkilling medicine on an empty tummy, but he has to take it to be able to eat as his esophagus is still so painful. A real catch 22 situation.

He is also noticeably shorter of breath. He is always a bit short of breath because of damage from a blood clot, and is on blood thinners. Anyone else have issues with shortness of breath after radiation?

Posts: 24
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi Freida

My Dad had 5 weeks of chemo and radiation after surgery. They radiated the entire stomach area. He had shortness of breath but it was more the result of his heart acting up then from the radiation. Towards the end of the radiation and for at least a couple of months after it was pretty rough. I just wanted to say to hang in there. It is really hard after completion of the course of treatment. We all so want to see our loved ones conditions quickly improve but it takes time.

Posts: 191
Joined: Nov 2011

Thanks Pam. I think the doctors tend to understate the after effects a bit. It was more the nurses and PAs that warned us he would probably feel worse before he felt better. So we were sort of expecting it, but hoping not. I think we were lulled into a false sense of security because he did so well during chemo and radiation. Despite going through this for almost 6 months now, I think we are still not quite accepting that our old "normal" is gone, keep waiting for it to return.

Radiation and chemo after surgery. That sounds very tough.

JReed's picture
Posts: 463
Joined: Nov 2011

At Don's lab test appt last week, the onc told us that the radiation and/or chemo is still at work - he could tell by the bloodwork results. Don is 4 weeks post op. So it does continue to work for some time afterward - how long I don't know.

We were cautioned also that he could feel worse after the treatments than during. I can't remember how long after treatment that Jerry began to feel better but he had some issues also.

Crazy what this stuff does to a person.

FEC and Hugs,

P.S. We still have not heard from anyone as to whether or Don will get any additional radiation. The waiting game starts again. grrrrrrh

Posts: 191
Joined: Nov 2011

Wow, even now?! His chemo/radiation finished about 5 weeks before that, right? I wonder if that is why Bill's magnesium is still too low. They had him on magnesium pills at M D Anderson, then one time he had to have it by drip before they would do chemo, then they doubled it, then last week the family doc increased it again. I'm thinking maybe we should get the numbers and send them to his doc at MDA.

Well, that makes me feel a little better in a weird kind of way.

The waiting must be frustrating. Have they given you a timeline about when you might hear?

FEC and hugs to you too

jgwright's picture
Posts: 252
Joined: Oct 2011

It took, IIRC, almost a month before I started feeling decent. I didn't have any ribcage pain, but my left shoulder felt like I had rheumatoid arthritis. Feels fine now.


Posts: 33
Joined: Jul 2010

Hi Freida - I don't post often - I lost my father to this beast over a year ago. I stop in now and then because this beast will always be a part of my life. Anyway - please call the doctor about the rib pain - it could be pneumonia – I actually had symptoms exactly as you describe and also thought it was a muscle issue – in fact it was pneumonia. I recommend getting a chest x-ray as quickly as possible to rule it out if it is not.
Take care,

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