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radiation side effects ?? radiation side effects ??

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  #1  
Unread 01-18-2004, 03:09 PM
radiation side effects ??

I just found out I need 28 external treatments. (TAH/BS Dec. 3, 2003) for uterine cancer grade 3 cells that were one third way into the uterine wall. (that's all I know so far)

I'm reading all these posts about side effects and getting scared.
A friend told me yesterday I won't feel good again til July (actual treatments will probably get started in Feb !!) I'd like to hear any experiences anyone has had with their recovery and radiation treatments... good or bad.

Also, I don't know what you mean when referring to "Cancerhead" ??

I haven't gotten a second opinion on the radiation ... think I should? Doc says it is the usual recommended treatment for my situation.

EllieBoo
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  #2  
Unread 01-18-2004, 03:40 PM
radiation side effects ??

Hi Ellie,

I want to start by telling you that everyone's experience is different. I can only tell you my experience, but you should not necessarily expect yours to be like mine. You want to know the good and the bad so I will be very honest. Ok?

I became nauseated the very first day and by the end of the week I was throwing up. I had to take anti-nausea meds the whole time. By the end of the second week, I had the beginnings of diarhea (sp?). By the end of the 3rd week I was very sick. I had to eat a low-residue diet the whole time. But once the treatments ended I started to feel better pretty quickly. I did have to stay on the low-residue diet for some time while things healed. Slight burning - my skin turned black but that peeled off fairly soon after the end of treatment.

I finished radiation the end of June 2003. I am still dealing with very stiff hips. I am also having pain in my back that my Gyn/Onc thinks is from radiation damage to the bones and muscles. I should know more about that after my next appointment in Feb.

I have to tell you though, that I have never met a nicer group of people than the Radiation folks. The Doc, nurses, radiation techs, physicists everyone was great. I was sad to finish treatment and follow-ups because I miss them. I think about them all the time. They were there for me through everything.

I don't know about the second opinion. I had a different cancer. Who is recommedning the radiation? Is it a Gynecological Oncologist? I trusted mine very much and did what he thought was best. Do some research and then do what feels right to you.

Take Care and Good Luck!
Sharon
  #3  
Unread 01-18-2004, 04:04 PM
radiation side effects ??

Hi Ellie,
My situation was the same as yours and I finished my radiation treatments the 13th of November. Twenty-eight external and three internal.
First I have to say it was very doable. Concidering the things the medical profession can come up with to torture you this was faar from the worst. I did not have any skin problems and experienced bowel problems very late in the treatment. I did develop bladder irration late also and have had to contine a medication to calm the bladder since. Whenever I try to stop after feeling that things are back to almost normal the irration flares up after the stopping. Each time is less severe so I am confident that it will get better.
I still am having problem with gas and bloating which I hope will reverse soon.
As sharon said the people I met could not have been nicer or more caring. I also recommend you maintain a sense of humor. Some of the things you go through are far from diginfied, but I was never made to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
I too did not seek a second opinion about this. It seems to be pretty standard.
Good luck,
Jean
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  #4  
Unread 01-18-2004, 06:34 PM
radiation side effects ??

Hi, Ellie--

I had 25 external treatments and one 36-hour internal inplant (in isolation) for endometrial cancer in July and August 1999. I had minimal side effects from the radiation. Some bladder irritation and diarrhea starting around the middle of the 25 treatments. My radiation-oncologist recommened Immodium to control the diarrhea, and it worked pretty well.

I also found out I had hemorrhoids during radiation, but they were a relatively minor inconvenience for which I used Preparation H and cornstarch. I had my treatment 8:10 a.m every morning and then went to work right afterwards. I did experience some tiredness in the evenings beginning about the fourth week.

Frankly, for me, the worst part of my cancer treatment was not the radical hysterectomy or the internal or external radiation, but the psychological aspects of a cancer diagnosis (a/k/a Cancerhead or as I used to call it, the Cancer Crazies). I pretty much breezed through my actual treatment. I would say most of the side effects of radiation were gone within a month. I remember this specifically, because I finished radiation on August 3, 1999, and took a week's vacation to Vermont around Labor Day and was fine and able to eat everything and do everything I wanted.

By all means, get a second opinion on the need for radiation based on the particular facts of your case. I was told that the radiation would increase my chances of not having a recurrence by approximately 15%. I would assume you were given some statistical information that demonstrated the benefits to the radiation treatments? I also sought a second opinion from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore before undergoing treatment closer to home.

Best of luck to you,

MoeKay
  #5  
Unread 01-18-2004, 07:39 PM
radiation side effects ??

Ellie --

I'm kind of in the same situation as you, except that I actually start the radiation treatments tomorrow (I also start back to work tomorrow). The thought of side effects for possibly months terrifies me, but I guess not as much as the cancer coming back does. Are you going to have internal radiation also? I have to have 3 treatments of that starting a month after the external ends.

I guess I'm lucky that my office is right next to the bathroom -- and to think that I thought it was a horrible location when I got it a few months ago.

Everybody from doctors to techs at the radiation center have been super nice but walking in there the first time was when the cancer diagnosis really hit. I think I know now what cancerhead is.

Good luck to you. Of course get a second opinion if you are not sure that radiation is right for you.
  #6  
Unread 01-18-2004, 08:11 PM
radiation side effects ??

EllieBoo,

I had a radical hysterectomy October 27th. Tumor was contained within the uterine lining, but one pelvic lymph node showed cancer cells. I was staged at Stage IIIC, Grade 3.

I had 28 external treatments that started the week of Thanksgiving, 2003. My last treatment was January 5, two weeks ago tomorrow.

My radiation field also included the abdomen as they wanted to radiate the lymph nodes around the aorta also. they told me that the next likely spread from pelvic nodes would be to those.

My first treatment I was sick to my stomach immediately afterwards and for about two hours. I did not vomit, but sure felt yucky. they gave me anti nausea pills to take one hour before each treatment and they worked perfectly.

I stuck to a very very low fiber, low residue bland diet throughout the entire treatment time. I did experience diarrhea, but was always able to control it with Imodium AD.
My blood counts went down, which is common when treating that large of an area of the body. And my platelets also were very low. This was about the beginning of the third week. After that, they began to adjust and climb back.

I was very tired, but we also had to travel 200 miles round trip each day. I blame alot of that tiredness on the traveling.

I am now beginning to reintroduce 'normal' foods into my diet and so far am having no big problems.......

Please let me know if I can help you in the future.

Nancy J.
  #7  
Unread 01-18-2004, 08:12 PM
Radiation

Ellie, I had 33 radiation treatments for very early breast cancer. Was advised by rad/oncs to apply 100% aloe vera gel to skin three - four times per day during treatment and for as long as necessary after. Also to use very mild soap -- Ivory or Basis. I did both and believe because of that I had quite mild skin reaction to the radiation. My skin was back to normal about two or three weeks after treatment ended.

And like the others have said, everyone in the Radiation Oncology Dept. was so nice. I miss them too. Have gone back to visit a couple of times since treatment ended last February.

"Cancerhead" is, well, a cancer diagnosis can really mess with your mind BIG TIME! We all experience it. It can be as bad as the physical aspects of cancer. Just have to control it. With time it seems to subside, but will mostly likely be occasional flare-ups.

You're not in this alone. Take care.

Mary D.
  #8  
Unread 01-18-2004, 08:24 PM
radiation side effects ??

My experience was a bit different. First, I had NO nausea, ever. I no skin problems, none, ever. My skin looked exactly the same throughout treatment, there was nothing, other than the 4 little tatooes.

I had bladder irritation for a couple of weeks at the end of my 25 external rads. For me that was the worst part because it woke me up so frequently at night that I never felt rested. But it was over by the time I finished my internal rads.

I got diahhrea the middle of treatment and was prescribed Lomotil which worked very well. The diahhrea seemed to always hit late at night, or when I was sleeping. I did have to make some mad dashes to the bathroom, but that didn't last more than a few weeks after treatment ended.

I finished treatment on July 3rd, had sex two weeks later and that was fine. Sex is just like it always was. On August 1st I flew to St. John for vacation. I ate everything, sailed, swam, and snorkled. I rest and read books, but did everything I wanted to do. A couple of days that week I did need to take Immodium and I still do need to take it a couple of times a month. But that's IT, that's the only lasting effect I have had from radiation.

I had no bone pain, ever.

However, I do suffer from Cancerhead and worry that every little ache and pain is cancer. I had some spotting and was totally convinced that the cancer had returned. My doctor said it is a spot of scar tissue, high up in my vagina, that is bleeding, and he has me using premarin vaginal cream. But what does he know? Cancerhead is so bad, I can convince myself that I know more than the best gyn/onc in my area!

Radiation really isn't bad. Get a calendar and mark off the days. It will help you to see how soon it will end and help you to see the progress that you are making. We celebrated every milestone, In the teens day, Half way point, single digits day, etc. It helped.

One positive thing, the word Cancer no longer scares me, nor does oncology. Been there, done that, got the tattoos to prove it!

You'll be fine. You'll feel better once you start. This is doable.
Hugs,
Janie
  #9  
Unread 01-23-2004, 12:29 AM
it's not so bad

I haven't had time to read all the replies carefully, so I hope I won't be repeating too much!

I had radiation (26 treatments) between March-May 2003. I had stage III grade 3 endometrial cancer.

First off, the radiation was really nothing to be scared of!!
It doesn't hurt when they do it, and the side effects aren't that
awful. I went back to work 10 hours a week during the treatment, and 2 weeks after finishing was back to full time.

I didn't have any of the aches and pains others have commented on. The only effects were: painful urination (they gave me pills for that which I took every day from about the 12th treatment) and diarhia (took Immodium as needed). The last two weeks I had quite a lot of pain "down under" I think it was hemorhoids, and once I started using cream for that, it was okay. The worst part was the tiredness, but if you let yourself rest enough it will be okay!!!

It is really helpful to find someone to talk to who's done same, and can tell you the small bits of info that really help and can only be gained by experience

All in all, it was not a great time, but it all seems like a blur now, and by about 1 month later I was totally fine and felt better than ever!!

Good luck and hang in there!

Esther
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