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Breast Cancer Radiotherapy - How to Survive Radiotherapy

Breast cancer radiotherapy is at best an ordeal and at worst a living nightmare for many women.

The worst moment after being told you really do have cancer is being told you will need chemotherapy and radiotherapy as treatment to fight the disease. Having been there I know itís shocking and I felt I just simply would never cope with it all. I'm writing this article and describing my experiences in the hope that it will make it easier for others to cope. If that applies to you then my thoughts are with you - good luck on your journey. Be strong and you'll see it through.

My own breast cancer treatment regime was to consist of four treatments of FEC chemo, four weeks of radiotherapy treatment then four treatments of Taxotere chemo. This would all take the best part of ten months.

Having survived the first part of the chemo ( just! ) I went into my radiotherapy a bit bruised and battered. The first thing that needed done was going to a simulator to have the very complicated process of marking out where your treatment would be. This is done with lasers and details of where your tumour or tumours were. Small tattoos are then done to mark out the treatment area. This enables the machine to be set up very quickly every day during treatment.

I mentally decided that for the four weeks of radiotherapy I would treat it like a job. It took 45 minutes or so to drive to the hospital and back every day. The Western General in Edinburgh where I had all my treatments has a fantastic set up for radiotherapy patients. There is a dedicated car park next to the unit and you are guaranteed a space or they will valet park your car. This was amazing and a big weight off my mind as your appointment only lasts five minutes and you have to be there in time as the machines are in use constantly.

The actual radiotherapy lasts a few minutes and is painless-quite relaxing really. Some people find the treatment very tiring. I didnít, but I think if youíve had chemo first then your perception of tiredness changes! The going to the hospital every day is a bit of a bind but use any mental trick to over come this.

After a few weeks of treatment the skin over the treated area can become very red and fragile. No soap or creams should be used as these can make your skin even more sensitive. This does clear up but it did cause discomfort for a few weeks. The skin on this area will always be more sensitive and sun should be avoided. Itís also worth mentioning not to forget the exit area Ė mine was on my back Ė where the radiotherapy exists your body during treatments.

Radiotherapy treatment, for me, was the least unpleasant of the treatments I went through. At the outset it seems daunting but really itís not Ė honestly!

Submitted by:

Marjory Ramsay

Marjory Ramsay is a nurse and mother in Edinburgh. She has blogged about her breast cancer treatment experiences in the hope that others might find help or comfort. You can read her breast cancer survivor story and about the symptoms of breast cancer by following these links.




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