Navigating Radiation Treatment

radiationOnce you know your radiation treatment schedule, it is time to develop a plan that will get you through the duration of your 6+ weeks of Monday through Friday treatments of External Beam Radiation.

Practical Considerations:

  • Get your home and work responsibilities streamlined. Don’t plan any major projects for the 6+ weeks in treatment.
  • Speak with those family members, friends and neighbors with whom you are comfortable sharing about your cancer and your upcoming radiation treatment. Accept offers of help with things like grocery shopping, laundry, errands, meal prep and child care, if you have young children. Most people want to help and prefer being told what they can help with, rather than having to figure out how they can be of help.
  • Come up with a schedule of what help you will need and when you anticipate needing it. Remember that you will probably do well for the first several treatments as radiation has a cumulative effect which you may not experience until a few weeks into treatment.
  • If you plan to work during treatment, know that when you begin to experience the cumulative effects of your treatment, you may need to make some adjustments to your work schedule such as a shorter work day, rest periods during the day and earlier to bed than usual in the evenings.
  • Plan on using the weekends to recuperate from radiation treatments. Get plenty of rest, even if you don’t sleep. Lay down when you feel you need to lay down. Don’t try to fight your lack of energy.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you are taking  before starting treatment, even over-the-counter medications.
  • Eat well balanced meals and  avoid losing weight. Snack healthy, when you feel the need.
  • Consider wearing loose-fitting camisoles and loose tops for the duration of radiation treatment. If you must wear a bra, make it a comfortable one and  place a soft cloth between your bra strap and skin.
  • Don’t rub or scrub the treated area.
  • To avoid blistering, keep the skin under your breast clean and dry.
  • Don’t use any lotions, powders, perfumes, soaps or deodorants on the area being treated without checking it out first with your doctor.
  • Don’t starch your blouses or shirt clothes and use a mild laundry detergent when washing your clothes.
  • Wash the treated area with  lukewarm water. Extreme temperatures can injure your skin.
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible and ask your doctor before you use sunscreen.
  • Get as much sleep as you want and need after radiation. Fatigue can last for up to six weeks after treatment.
  • Be good to yourself. When you feel up to it, go out with friends and family and have some fun.
  • When the “what ifs” get the best of you, turn to a fellow survivor or trusted family person and talk until you get things in perspective again.

 

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