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All radiation is not the same

Cheyenne's picture
Posts: 77
Joined: Apr 2012

I am at the end of my treatment. I started on May 7th with the usual chemo/radiation followed by 3 weeks of radiation alone followed by one week of chemo/radiation. While the chemo is standard for everyone, radiation is not. It is very much individualized. I had 22 imrt treatments and 3 "boosts". I still have one boost remaining on Monday since we skipped the Monday of Memorial Day. In the 22 regular treatmensts I was getting 19 "beams". There were 9 positions with 2 beams from each of the 8 and 3 beams from the location directly above my pelvis.

I did look at the list of beams and noticed that the strongest seemed to be 30gy. I believe that gy number corresponds with the strength of the beam so not all 19 beams were the same.

I want to give that background information because I don't want to make it seem like I'm some "super human". I've not had most of the severe side effects that others have experienced. I have a little bit of irritation in the folds where my legs meet my groin but it is minor. It really does feel a bit like a mild sunburn. I have had normal bowel movements with almost no pain. A little discomfort maybe but not pain. I was taking pain medicine at night before bed but only to help me go to sleep.

For skin treatment I used the aquaphor on the anal area. I got some of those cotton squares that you get in the cosmetic section of the drugstore to apply. Those felt better than tissue. For the vaginal area I used a personal lubricating gel and that was soothing. It took care of itching and some buring pain. I have a lazy boy chair and sat with my legs up and sort of in the treatment position most of the time that I was awake at home.

I can't think of anything else that I did that might have helped. I can't say that this will help anyone else because all radiation treatments are not the same.

I was originally diagnosed with very early stage I. It was found during a routine colonoscopy. The surgeon removed what they were referring to as a "lesion" on April 10th. She said that she got 99% of the cells and that just a small amount had invaded the tissue just below the surface. No muscle involvement or nodes or anything else.

Hopefully this wll be a help to someone else who may be in the very early stage of diagnosis and treatment.

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

Hi Cheyenne,
Congratuations on finishing your treatment, we started on the same day and if I hadn't had that little detour to the hospital I would be done also but I only have 2 more weeks of radiation to get through. I'm happy for you that you didn't get too many of the bad side effects and hopefuuly the radiation will not be so bad for me. So far my biggest problem is with constipation. I am taking Miralax and a stool softener every day and eating all the fruit and salad and drinking lots of water but to no avail. I also feel nauseous a lot of the time don't know why? Did you get the fatigue that many others felt?
Take care

Cheyenne's picture
Posts: 77
Joined: Apr 2012

I have had very little fatigue. I have had some brief dizzy spells when I stand up after sitting for awhile. I have had to take a few naps during the treatment weeks but not every day. I would say maybe five days out of the entire 5 weeks that I napped in the middle of the day. The worst was Monday of last week when they put the picc line back in. I was sick before they ever hooked up any medicine, just from the insertion of the picc line. I came home and took a nap for about an hour and a half. I sure hope your last 2 weeks go smoothly and you get back to 100% in no time!

mp327's picture
Posts: 4148
Joined: Jan 2010

Congrats on being very close to the finish line! It sounds like you have done quite well--that's great! Thanks for sharing with us what you did--hopefully, your tips will help someone else. I wish you speedy healing and recovery!

Missgrace's picture
Posts: 41
Joined: Apr 2012

Wow, Cheyenne!
How did you find out so much about your radiation? All I know is that I get blasted 9 times for 40 seconds a time. The machine hits me from eight positions and repeats one position (directly under me). I'm not doing quite as well as you are but I've not had nearly as much trouble as Louise. I started chemo May 14 and radiation on May 15, which puts me about a week behind you two. I find both of your posts helpful as far as what to expect.

Cheyenne's picture
Posts: 77
Joined: Apr 2012

I had researched radiation on the internet and saw reference to the "gy". When I went into the radiation room for my treatment there was a computer monitor with a list of the different "beams". I knew that's what it was because I counted 19 on the list and that's the exact number of zaps I was getting. As I looked down the list, 30 gy was the largest that I saw with one being only 1gy.

Some of the burning has made an appearance the last two days. It's not really pain but discomfort. I have two bags of ice that I'm putting on the creases where the irritation seems to be the most prominent and THAT helps a LOT!

Posts: 113
Joined: Dec 2011


Almost there!!! Before you know it you will be able to look back and for me that was surreal. It all seemed to go so fast when I look back but in the middle of it all that was not the case. Be good to you, rest as needed and get extra protien in to aid in healing (gatorade protien drinks and instant breakfast worked for me). Isnt it amazing what we can get through when you have to! You are truly a warrior!

Keeping you in my prayers,


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