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My First Radiation Appointment for Breast Cancer

July 11, 2014

Journal Dump #040

It's official.  I've been radiated.  My first 2 appointments are under my belt...only 28 to go.

I was sent to a different radiology center for treatment because my doctor's office will soon be moving into the new multi-million dollar cancer center that was just built and they didn't want to interrupt my treatments during their transition.  So not only was this a new experience at a new office, it was also filled with unfamiliar faces, which made for a very anxiety ridden first day of treatment.  I took this photo on day 2. It shows the bed that I lay in, over a mold that was casted of my body so I am in the same position each time.

The process of radiation is simple compared to my previous chemotherapy treatments but I refuse to minimize it.  Many kind people have been offering support as I continue onto this next round of ass-kicking, by saying "the hard part is over" or "this will be nothing compared to chemo".  I totally get that they are just trying to be supportive but we are talking radiation here, and I don't mean 'standing in front of the microwave type of radiation'.  Yes, it will be much less physically invasive than chemo but seriously people...I am being burned on the inside to kill my cells - the bad cancer cells along with the good ones.  

With anxiety comes an upset stomach so I didn't think much about it on day one when I felt dizzy, light headed and nauseous all day.  But after my second treatment, when I was putting my clothes back on after radiation, I was light headed and again felt dizzy like I did the day before.  Since day 2 was much less stressful, I asked the technician why I felt this way... he said it is just anxiety.  My gutt says otherwise.

If you know me, you know I research... alot.  So, of course I found some things to substantiate the way I feel:

Nausea is a common and expected result of radiation therapy. I recommend discussing your concerns with your oncologist or radiation oncologist as they most certainly have experience with this and can treat it. Nausea is an expected result of radiation therapy. Of note, chemotherapy also causes nausea. To understand this, lets discuss what radiation therapy does. The radiation works by delivering high energy rays to the tissue. These high energy rays damage the DNA--which is the blueprint for the cells that lets them divide. By damaging the way the cells divide, the cells that divide most are the cells most effected. This is good, because cancer cells divide a lot--therefore the radiation will "burn" the cancer more than the normal tissue (as the normal tissue doesn't divide as much). The problem is that there are a few normal cells that divide a lot. The most rapidly dividing normal cells are the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract (Stomach, colon, esophagus, intestine etc). Because of this--those cells are damaged and result in nausea. Chemotherapy also targets rapidly dividing cells and therefore causes nausea by a similar mechanism. Keep in mind, depending on where your cancer is, this could be causing nausea as well. As this is a common problem, there are many medications developed to decrease nausea. There are also medicines specifically to increase appetite. Talk to your doctor as maintaining your strength is important during your therapy.

From a survivor:

I completed radiation 2 months ago and complained during the entire time that i felt dizzy and lightheaded.  I too was told stress, anxiety and the nurse told me it could be vertigo and when i got up off the table i should go slowly.  I realize now that i actually feel better...that i really was lightheaded and in a fog during the entire treatment process.  I feel so much better now and only wish that the rad onc acknowledgede what i was feeling as real and not imagined!!   Also i felt my worst after the treatments were over. I was most exhausted and dragging for a week or two after..Another woman i met in the hospital told me what to expect and it was very helpful. The Dr never mentioned it.



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My mission is to support and inspire you through your breast cancer journey, offering guidance and encouragement every step of the way.

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