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Good News-Vag Brachytherapy advice/tips

mcarp0117
Posts: 13
Joined: Jul 2019

Received call from Dr. this evening. Lymph nodes negative for cancer!! Praise GOD!  So now I see him for followup on 9/3. I'm one week out from lymphendectomy.  He will at that time schedule my vaginal brachytherapy radiation treatments. Any ideas as I prepare for these treatments?  Continued prayers for you all.

cmb's picture
cmb
Posts: 354
Joined: Jan 2018

So happy to hear that that your lymph nodes were negative! I had external radiation, not brachytherapy, so I can't offer any advice on that treatment. But I'm sure that others can offer some tips.

Forherself's picture
Forherself
Posts: 173
Joined: Jan 2019

Thanks for sharing your good news.  You've got this!    

MAbound
Posts: 854
Joined: Jun 2016

Like cmb, I did not have brachy, but many others here did and I'm sure they'll be along shortly. I just had to say I'm so happy that you got this positve news. Enjoy your weekend!

jan9wils's picture
jan9wils
Posts: 56
Joined: Mar 2017

Excellent news. I am so happy for you!

I had both external beam and brachy.  For the brachy the vist takes over an hour but the actual amount of time you receive radiation is about 15 minutes. You have to lay still. They try to make you as comfortable as they can.  They gave me a small dose of valium, I think, or maybe it was xanax. This was to relax me and make it easier for me to be still. They explained each step as they were preparing for the treatment and during the treatment. Slightly uncomfortable position but not unbearable. They asked me if I wanted some music playing and I did so they played it softly for me. No soreness afterward, no burning. I already had the external beam radiation and had intestinal issues from that so I can't tell you if brachy alone will affect you in this way. I also had already experienced a UTI so I can't say if that might happen with brachy. I had 3 treatments. My doctor suggested a dialator but I asked if I could use an alternative and that was okay. It really wasn't as difficult as I had thought it would be. All of the techs, nurses and my doctors were women. There was one intern doing his rotation and they asked if it was okay if he was present. After having had surgery, radiation, exams, etc. I honestly didn't care who was in the room as long as they were going to try and kill any cancer cells. I worked all throughout my treatments teaching first grade but I did go to bed each night by 9:30!

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

That's great news!!! :-)

We all be thinking of u on 9/3

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
TeddyandBears_Mom
Posts: 1523
Joined: Jun 2015

Great news! Brachy was the easiest part of my treatments. I had 5 treatments and they lasted about 5 minutes. I used my dialator 2 Xs a week for the first 2 years and a bit less in the beginning of the 3rd year. I stopped using it entirely about 6 months ago. So far, no issues. Had a check up in July and all is well. I can't think of anything to suggest to prepare for it other than getting some AZO in case you have any burning when you urinate.  

There is an older thread 'Lets talk about radiation' that you may find helpful. 

Love and Hugs,

Cindi

candy546
Posts: 10
Joined: Feb 2019

 Brachytherapy was difficult for me.  I had 25 external radiation treatments first which went smoothly except for the bowel and urinary issues associated with it.  Then I had 3 brachytherapy treatments.    I told one of the technicians it was the equivalent of medically necessary rape with a device.  i know that sounds really overdramatic, but that's how I felt. I'm thinking my problem is that i have been a widow for 7 years and never got back into dating or sexual activity which I see was probably a terrible mistake.  I'm using the dilator that they gave me which was mildly uncomfortable at first, but is easier with time.  Here's wishing you a more peaceful experience than mine. 

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
TeddyandBears_Mom
Posts: 1523
Joined: Jun 2015

Candy, sorry your experience was so hard. They should have put lidocaine in your vagina if you had any pain. There is no reason to hurt during the process. While the actual procedure is embarrassing, the staff (all men) were so kind and caring that it made it easier. I went in with a mindset that it was no big deal to them. (Taking Lorazapam before hand helped too!) I'm not one to take pills but there are times that it is necessary. 

Love and Hugs,

Cindi

mcarp0117
Posts: 13
Joined: Jul 2019

Thanks fit the tips gals! I’m gonna ask about lidocaine, dialator and meds to calm me at my appt on 9/3. I had my hysterectomy June 13 and after 6 weeks we attempted sex again. It was so uncomfortable for me so I’m hoping the dialator will help after the radiation. 

BluebirdOne's picture
BluebirdOne
Posts: 194
Joined: Jul 2018

I had three treatments. The first was longer as they had to ensure you were in exact correct position. The actual radiation was less than 5 minutes, IIRC. It was no more embarrassing than having a baby as everyone was extremely respectful and aware of your very undignified position. I had two medical students observing (both females) who seemed so mortified to observe the procedure that I almost giggled. I was offered and used lidocaine, and Lorazepam as I am not one to want to stoicly suffer if I don't have to.  The insertion was mildly uncomfortable which totally subsided within a few seconds. I just had an extremely full feeling. As far as rating the procedure among everything I had, it was very low. The stress for me was worrying about the outcome, latent side effects, etc. I never had pelvic radiation so I cannot compare the two, but as far as I know I have had no side effects. 

 

Good luck. 

 

Denise 

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 519
Joined: Oct 2009

So glad you didn’t have any cancer in lymph nodes! I had brachytherapy 3 treatments. During the first visit they wanted me to have a full bladder. They ”fitted“ me with some type of panty as I recall that would keep the dilator type device inside my vagina. The goal seemed to be that the device needed to make contact with the tissues in my vagina. This was 10 years ago and back then I was not offered Valium or any anti anxiety meds nor did they offer any lidocaine topical gel and thus I would describe the fitting process as like having a blow torch in my vagina. Candy, I can relate to your experience. It was awful! I had just finished my 25 external pelvic radiation. The 2nd and 3rd brachytherapy treatments took only about 5 minutes in a small dark room. They offered me music via headphones. That helped. were uneventful and not painful.  Since then the providers/practitioners have improved the experience by offering lidocaine topical and medication for anxiety. Your experience won’t be like mine was 10 years ago so please know that! Using a dilator for awhile after therapy is important so your vagina doesn’t atrophy or get so tight from scar tissue. Ask for whatever they can give you to relax and prevent pain. 

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2572
Joined: Mar 2013

Got the brachy t-shirt too.  I never wrapped my head around radiation - I think part of it was the doctor I had.  One week my radiologist was on vacation and I met the doctor who did the radiation on my friend's breast cancer.  He was great and I am pretty sure it would have been different from the get-go if I had had him.  They should give you a dialator after you complete brachy, but if they don't definitely ask.  (I think this site ensures you know what you need to do or ask as it seems the care seems to vary greatly.)  I clearly remember the difficulties I had in the beginning, but keep at it and it all pays off.  I remember dear, sweet Jazzy Jan saying to do it everyday for 10 minutes and I held to that practice for years.  Now, I don't use it as much but still have to do it.  I hated it, but know that it is part of the journey.

Candy, I am sorry to hear how about your experience.  It must have been very difficult for you.  

Primavera's picture
Primavera
Posts: 72
Joined: Mar 2019

I have to thank all of you who adviced me to ask for a dilator. Brachitherapy doctor almost refused to give one to me. Every time I asked he said I would not need it. I forced him to give me a prescription (or just permission, because I had to pay for it). Out of sizes 1-8 he told me to get #2 only because I told him that #1 was the size of my pinky and I would be very worried if that's what he thought I needed. I really wanted a set and I didn't listen to his instructions and went a number higher and bought a set #3 through #6.

Then I got to my gyn-oncologist follow-up and first thing I get asked is "did he tell you to buy a set of dilators? you are going to need them." I said I forced a prescription out of him and he gave me #2, but I ordered a set and went a number higher. Nurse rolled her eyes, shook her head and told gyn-oncol that I did buy a set when she entered the room and asked me the same thing.

If I hadn't read abut dilators here, I would have never known. I've read some bad stories here and I was determined to not be one of those cases.

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2572
Joined: Mar 2013

crazy to me that you had to pay!  They only had S, M, L.  I was given a M to start and my gyn onc said to get a L.  That was difficult for a while too but I kept at it and it is no big deal now.  Keep at it, even if it is a little every day.  

Primavera's picture
Primavera
Posts: 72
Joined: Mar 2019

I meant to come over here to ask about sizes because my list didn't have a S, M, L, but all I did was take a measuring tape and kind of measure a circumference to see how wide they were. I only got a glimpse of them at the doctor's office. I was sent to www.soulsource.com/collections/silicone-vaginal-dilators to get the #2. They were more than a hundred dollars for the set, but I knew I might need more than one and a bigger than he "prescribed."

I haven't started on it yet because my oncologist said she had to see me again because an internal stitch hasn't healed. She told me not to use them yet. I get worried every day about this. Radiation ended in June. Gyn-oncol said "you won't close up that fast!" when I told her I was afraid to keep on waiting.

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