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Had radiation?  how was it? Had radiation? how was it?

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Unread 02-28-2004, 01:16 PM
Had radiation? how was it?

Radiation--internal and external-- is one of my three treatment choices, and I'd like to find out how it went for you. Side effects? Restrictions during treatment? I am especially nervous about the idea of internal radiation. I have heard some scary things about it.

So please, if you've been through radiation, give me a report!
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Unread 02-28-2004, 01:41 PM
Had radiation? how was it?

Hi Stella Blue,

I am sorry you are having to worry about cancer and treatment. I had 25 external and 3 internal radiation treatments. For the external, you go everyday and lay on a table for about 10 minutes. The Techs were great! I miss them a lot.

I did have a lot of the acute side effects with the external rads. From the very first day, I was nauseous and had to take meds for it. I also suffered a lot of cramping and loose stools starting in about the 3rd week. They tell you to take Imodiom for the loose stools. For some reason that made me have worse cramps so I lived with the runs. I had to eat a very strict low-residue diet. Which means nothing with fiber like fresh veggies, friut, whole grains, etc. I lived mostly on white rice and canned green beans. But once treament was over the side effects began to go away. I still occasionally have a few symptoms but nothing too bad. (I finished treatment June 25, 2003)

There are different types of internal radiation. I had High Dose Brachytherapy. I went once a week for three weeks. They placed a cylinder in my vagina and hooked me up to a machine. While alone in the room, the radioactive agent travels from the maching to the cylinder in your vagina. It stays there for a few minutes. Then everyone comes back into the room and takes the cylinder out. They run a geiger counter over you to make sure that none of the radioactive agent remained in your body. The first appointment takes a while for them to set everything up. You have to hold really still the whole time. My Radiation Onc. gave me anti-anxiety meds to deal with it.

Other than some burning in my vagina, the acute side effects were much less with the internal radiation.

I hope I did not give you too much information. I honestly was miserable during the external radiation. Would I do it again? Absolutely!!!!! On Feb 17, 2004 - my Gyn/Onc used the words COMPLETE REMISSION for the very first time. Radiation treatment is doable and worth it if your Doc thinks it is best for you. Good luck!

Unread 02-28-2004, 05:42 PM
Had radiation? how was it?

I had both, external and internal radiation. External radiation (five weeks, M-F) for me went very well -- five minutes a day just laying on a table, no big deal. Diarrhea was my worst symptom, and it was pretty controllable with Imodium. I didn't get any of the sunburn effects on my skin, and I felt hardly any fatigue.

Internal radiation was another thing all together. I’m still not 100% clear on what they do exactly, but I can tell you it is painful, even after taking two Vicodin, an Ativan, and a shot of Toredol. I had two treatments, and the first one took two hours. The first hour was like a painful pelvic exam. The doctor shoots (“implants,” but it feels like shooting!) little “seeds” into the tumor, or as close to it as possible (mine's on my cervix). There are other instruments inserted, I can’t remember what or why. Catheters are inserted (they run dye through the catheters so they don’t radiate the wrong organs), and x-rays are taken to see where everything is. A physicist takes measurements based on the x-rays to determine how much radiation is required.

The second hour is basically just waiting for the x-rays to be developed, read, and the physicist to do his calculations. Then the doctor, the nurses, the physicist – everyone except me -- leaves the room while the radiation travels from a machine next to me, through a tube, to the seeds implanted in/near the tumor. That took about 15 minutes. Then the physicist came in first with – get this – a Geiger counter!! He showed me it was at zero, and assured me it’s always at zero, but they just have to make sure.

When it was all finished I was fine, but that first hour was just on and off very painful, sharp cramping. My second session was only 45 minutes and MUCH better. They didn't have to do any of that "shooting," no catheters, etc., and I didn't even have the Toredol. Maybe I was just more relaxed because I knew what to expect? I don't know, but that second one was much more tolerable.
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Unread 02-29-2004, 08:28 AM
Had radiation? how was it?

Hi Stella,
I am curious what your other treatment options were. You said that this was one of 3.
Unread 02-29-2004, 08:51 AM
Had radiation? how was it?

Hi, Denise--

My other two were surgery (pretty much clean out my pelvis, excise the top of my vagina--not an attractive option)and do nothing. The doc said that I could do nothing but have a PET scan to see if there was cancer. He figured that with my weird pathology there was a 15% chance I had cancer not taken out with my uterus. I don't know how he arrived at that figure. I told him I'd had a cat scan, he said it was useless. Sigh. I'm going to see the awesome doctor at Mt. Sinai soon, but have in the interim found out that the doc I saw Friday seems to be considered equally awesome by the readers of NY Magazine...
Unread 02-29-2004, 10:23 AM
Had radiation? how was it?

I think the second opinion will be helpful at this point. Your prognosis is excellent either way. At one point one doctor I went to told me that I needed further treatment and I had the same 2 options as you do. I was leaning towards surgery at the time. It's a tough decision.
Unread 02-29-2004, 11:20 AM
Had radiation? how was it?

What did you decide? And why lean toward surgery?
Unread 02-29-2004, 12:09 PM
Had radiation? how was it?

Internal vs External. Hmmmmm.

I had 25 external and 5 internal. Of the five internal 3 were done under general anesthia and the other 2 were done in a private room and only took ten minutes max. The five internal I cried through...........why? Not because I had cancer. Not because it hurt. I cried because, to me, it was another humiliating experience I had to go through.

This is not to say you will experience ANY of this. That was me.

Any of the radiation treatments themselves to not hurt. Its generally the side effects that are annoying. And everyone's side effects are different.

I do agree with the low residue diet, ask you doc to make sure, but I used it and sometimes still have to follow it. No, its not as fun as eating a great big plate of nachos, but in the end I was grateful I stayed on the diet.

Its the not knowing that is scary. Once you get through this you will laugh at yourself and you might even feel silly for being so concerned. That's okay! We've all done it. So thank God you are on a site where you can share this information and not get those sideways looks from people. Know what I mean?

Good luck Stella blue!! Let us know how its goes.
Unread 02-29-2004, 06:14 PM
Had radiation? how was it?

Hi Stella,
The first doctor I went to told me I needed either radiation or the same cleaning out surgery that you described. I had adeno which is rarer. She was not experienced. I then went for 3 more opinions to 3 of the top people who all disagreed with her and felt that I did not need any more treatment. 1 was at Sinai. 1 was at NYU and the other at Sloan Kettering. Before I went to the other doctors I was leaning towards the surgery because I was 35 and the radiation was going to put me into menopause. Fortunately, as it turned out I did not need anything.

I am not sure how far back in time the posts go but I have one very similar to yours back in December 01. I was crying, confused and scared. The cancer was very unexpected. (I guess it always is) to get through this

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