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Brachytherapy on the horizon

KammieM
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2020

Hello Ladies, I've been lurking here for about a month and have enjoyed the posts, although I don't always understand the terminology. I am a new member of the endometrial adenocarcinoma "club". I didn't have traditional symptoms (bleeding, etc.) and the issue came up during a routine Pap smear (abmormal cells) in April. I had a biopsy (not enough tissue) followed hysteroscopy and D&C (June 2), then total hysterectomy (July 2) with staging at 1B. 3 Brachytherapy treatments were recommended and are scheduled for next week.
     Emotionally, I  feel pretty solid. Like most all people, I was a bit taken aback with the diagnosis, especially since I am an otherwise healthy 65-year-old. I'm pretty pragmatic, take most things in stride, and have had good support. But, for some reason I'm feeling more anxious about the radiation then I did surgery. I had a traumatic experience with a transvaginal ultrasound with saline and dread having a device in my vagina. I read that it's much like a large tampon, but I never even liked wearing tampons! Maybe I have strange anatomy. I discussed my concerns with my doctor and he said I can have something for anxiety, if needed. I wonder if anyone has suggestions for reducing anxiety prior to or during radiation? I've been told to expect some fatigue but otherwise probably not many side effects.
     I've read about post radiation side effects (vaginal dryness, cystitis, painful sex, etc), which my doctor downplayed for the most part. Does anyone have suggestions about post-treatment needs? Or issues to discuss with the doctor?
    In the posts I've read, I have found many insightful and thoughtful responses. Thank you for any help you can give!

 

 

 

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2888
Joined: Mar 2013

Kammie, I understand your anxiety, and would say don't be afraid to take something for that.  It sounds like you have a great relationship with your doctor and that they are very understanding of your concerns. 

I would probably say:  everyone is different.  I think those of us who have had radiation, external and/or brachy, have a variety of stories.  I can say your doctor should be giving you dialators for use after radiation treatment is complete.  Vagina stenosis is obvious, but I would recommend you not give up and keep up the use.  I struggled with it at first and it was very difficult, but I kept at it.  They recommend about 3 times a week for 10 min (my doctor initially gave me a medium, and later a large).  One dear woman had suggested everyday for 10 min, and I truly think that has helped over the years.  Please don't let that scare you.  I know I had a hard time wrapping my head around radiation, and I am ok with my decision.  

I had external and brachy, one following the other, so the fatigue was very real.  I don't think I experienced anything like it in my life, but rest is restorative and I gave in to it.  I thought I had read that radiation continues to work for up to 6 weeks after treatment, but after it is over you do start to recover.  I am a fan of probiotics as well, and I am sure the other women will be along, but please don't hesitate to PM me if you like.  

Thanks for letting us formally meet you and I hope you know you are not alone. 

Donna Faye's picture
Donna Faye
Posts: 430
Joined: Jan 2017

Kammie, I think I am the record holder on this site for Brachys! I was diagnosed with UPSC so had chemo and 4 Brachys. Had a recurrence - so had 25 pelvic rads and 4 more Brackys. I had a great radiologist so none of the treatments were bad. I had upset tummy for a few weeks but Immodium solved that. I had another recurrence last Oct. but this time they cleaned out the vagina surgically. Currently am 9 mos. out, feeling good, doing water walking 5 days a week for one hour and I'm 80! So do not fear the B's as to me it was the easier of the treatments I've had. Good luck!

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
TeddyandBears_Mom
Posts: 1774
Joined: Jun 2015

Kammie,

Welcome! Glad you found us. I had brachy and chemo. For me, the brachy was the easiest part of my treatments. I had a great radiologist and he used lidocaine prior to inserting the vial for the radiation. I never had any pain. I am almost 5 years out from treatment. I used the dialators 2 Xs per week for the first 3 years. I stopped using them after that and have not had any issues. Just had my pelvic checkup on Tuesday and all is still functioning normally.

There is a thread that you may find helpful. 'Let's Talk About Radiation'. 

Please come back with any questions. We are here for you!

Love and Hugs,

Cindi

 

BluebirdOne's picture
BluebirdOne
Posts: 395
Joined: Jul 2018

I had three sessions. The worst part was the embarrassement of having them insert a large cylinder into your vagina, with many people observing. They were, of course, very professional, but it was the three technicians, the doctor, and the radiation specialists who observed plus two very red faced interns! The first appointment for fitting was the longest with a CT scan, but the last two were very quick. On a scale of 1=10, my experience was a 1, no pain, a lot of embarrassment (if you have had children it is similiar to childrbirth where everyone is looking at your private parts), and very mild diarhhea for a week following. Chemo was much, much worse. I was scared and had terrible anxiety which turned out to be nothing. I was so afraid for nothing.

Denise

KammieM
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2020

A BIG thank you to ALL who responded. I feel more comfortable with the procedure now that I know a little more about your experiences.I suspect my anticipation of how it will be is as geat if not worse than the procedure itself.

I read the thread you suggested, Cindi. I'll ask about lidocaine as an option. That makes sense. I'll also discuss dilators with the radiologist. 

Thank you for your insight, thoughts, and well wishes!

Kammie

     

Molly110
Posts: 190
Joined: Oct 2019

Kammie, I had 5 brachy sessions, and they were over before I knew it. The longest was a little over 5 minutes, and I listened to an Audible book. I had a wonderful radiologist and team, with the exception of one women involved in the fitting. I think she was part of the physics team rather than the medical team, and I disliked her snarky attitude. None of it was painful or even uncimfortable for me, and I haven't had side effects. I'm not as regular about using the dialators as I should be, but so far have not had any problems.

Like you, I was uncomfortable about having radiation inside me, but it is so different than it was even a decade agp. They know more about how much to give you, how to space it. and how to mimimize potential damage. Like Bluebird, I breezed through it, and I hope you will, too. I hated the loss of privacy and control over my body that resulted from my diagnosis, and it helped me to tell myself that I was choosing radiation as an ally in the effort to get rid of the cancer.

If you are anxious about any of this, I agree that you should take whatever your doctor advises for adnxiety. A therapist friend of mine reminded me that crisis situations like these are what anti-anxiety drugs are best for.

Warm best wishes.

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