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What changes in my breast can I expect during and after radiation therapy? I start on Monday and am kinda apprehensive.

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anonymous

Learning About Breast Cancer over 5 years
 
  • Jk Joyce Profile
    anonymous
    Survivor since 2012
    Yep, it's me Jo. :) I won't go into deep details Jayme but I got 16 rads and the week after my last one, I had second degrees burns. I had three places under my arm that cracked open and my dr. Gave me some purple stuff in her office to put in the splits. I used Aquaphor all the time. It took awhile to heal but I made it thru it. I am still sore inside and have hard places...but it's all ok. I am alive and kicking. Lol. Now, if I can make it thru the hot flashes from the Tamoxifen I gotta it licked. Best of luck and don't let any of what I went thru scare you. Everyone is different and yours may be a breeze. I think it just helps to be aware of possibilities. God bless.
    over 5 years Flag
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      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Hey, Kaye. The flashes will eventually get better. I was post-menopausal and was past that then Femara has caused a little more of it but not like when I first went through itthe old-fashioned way. If Tamoxifen causes a flash not related to...

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      Hey, Kaye. The flashes will eventually get better. I was post-menopausal and was past that then Femara has caused a little more of it but not like when I first went through itthe old-fashioned way. If Tamoxifen causes a flash not related to washing away estrogen that may be a different matter. I haven't studied or questioned my doctors about it,but I see them on the 19th of September and I'm really curious about that. I still have that achy feeling inside. Was really annoying yesterday and this morning. Well to quote a wise woman, "I am alive and kicking." :-D Jo

      over 5 years Flag
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      :). I had a complete hysterectomy in 1990 so don't even know why I am on Tamoxifen anyway. Gotta discuss this some more with my onc in 3 weeks. I just wish I could get my strength back. Naps are my friend.

      over 5 years Flag
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      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Bless your heart. My doctor said Femara was the drug for me. You can get the generic now. I'll be interested in what your doc says. We must have the same friends. :-D

      over 5 years Flag
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    anonymous
    Survivor since 2012
    Hi Jayme, You won't feel anything on the table. By my 8th or 9th treatment, I began to feel little prickles and twinges. By the end of my 16 rads, I had a slightly tan box, a light measle-looking rash that would pop out, especially when I got hot, itching,tenderness, puffiness, and minor hardness of the breast, small clear blisters. The underarm was already numb and the skin irritation here could be maddening. Many women suffer in the crease under the breast and have to put a cotton clothe in the crease to prevent skin on skin. NO skin on skin under my breast(mine was removed so that really wasn't my issue.) or skin on skin under arm and the arm against the breast. Wear a soft cotton t-shirt that will prevent that.You must do that all important stretching to keep the chest and arm mobile. Drink water, water and more water to aid the healing as the dead cells are disposed of and the sick cells have to work overtime to heal. Be sure to wash off all lotions and ointments before each treatment to prevent serious burning like a McDonald's fry.(I found that ritual even more tedious than the 2 and a Half hour round trip to the cancer center.) Fatigue will come depending on the individual. I came in from my trip, ate lunch and hit the couch for a snooze. Hope you can do the same thing. Since you have to wash off lotions everyday, avoid washing the breast during shower. Don't let the water hit the site directly, and NO hot water. Braless is good but I had to wear one at times because of the heaviness from surgery. Still had to sleep in a soft sports bra or lounging bra. My radiologist told me if I just had to wear one during the day, go to my drawers and pull out the old stretched out throw away and wear it.(No underwire or anything tight) Air is great but you're caught between a rock and a hard place. I wore a soft bra to treatment and came home braless. My last week, I would feel the sharp pains and prickles by the time I was leaving the city to head home. Nothing that hangs on (quick and fleeting pain, a slight dull throb sometimes). None of this was unbearable but more annoying for me and unnerving. I'm sure the girls that had twice the rads than me will have more to say. Finished mine two months ago. Still can't get hot and have minor discomfort from the surgery and rads, not sure which. My radiologist told me it could be up to a year before those painful little catches and prickles completely go away. I tell myself it's a reminder that I still have my breast and it doesn't look that bad. Don't use anything on your skin unless you get the ok from your doctor. No deoderant under that arm and no perfumed soaps. I used Dove soap for sensitive skin(hypoallergenic) Soft cotton helps wick away moisture and is a gentle caress on tender skin(keeps it dry except for your ointments you use) If it cracks, don't put ointments on the cracks. The doctor will prescibe something. You'll hear from Kaye, she really had a tough time. For me, radiation was the easiest of my treatment plan. If i had to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate. You girls that had chemo before and after rads are the real warriors. Ask your doctor all your smallest questions. Never hesitate. Tell your sweet techs every concern, they will shuttle you to the doctor if you need to have a quick peek by him. Good luck and be good to yourself during the treatment. Healing hugs. Jo :-D
    over 5 years Flag
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      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Thanks so much Jo for your answer. You explained everything so well. I have 28 rads. I'm not a baby when it comes to pain but having just recovered from surgery pain I'm tense about the pain from rads. Thanks again for being there for me.

      over 5 years Flag
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      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      You're good to go. The uncomfortable sensations of the side effects and the possible sunburn feelings are not even in the same universe as surgical pain. Jo :-D

      over 5 years Flag
  • Coco Smith Profile
    anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer
    There are many variations depending on your skin type, and the dosages delivered.Most women have no reaction initially, but then there is a pinking or skin colouration change. If they tattoo your radiation markers on your body, that also stays with you. After the pinking or skin colouration phase, erythemia can develop - a fancy name for a skin reaction. The reaction can be modest, medium or serious. The problem is - this cannot be predicted in advance. I found getting clear answers from my radiologist very difficult, so I went online and looked at images of mild, medium and bad reactions so I had an image of what hsi words meant in reality. Some people can cope with looking at such images and others can't. The affected breast area can also harden and feel different - firmer - over time. The colour change often remains. The radiation treatment itself in quick. The major complications are the radiated skin, so your skin needs protecting. Avoid hot showers on affected area, avoid tight clothes or clothes made out of man made fabric, as they can irritate. Perfumes, soaps also can irritate as can normal lotions you may use. Make sure whatever you use is gentle and Ph balanced. Some people keep aloe vera gel in the refrigerator and apply. Others like cold cabbage leaves tucked in. If you are unlucky enough to blister or have what is commonly called radiation burns, you need to be very careful about not puncturing the blisters and/or allowing infection to take hold. So washing your hands in anti-bacterial before touching any blister area is important. Some even use an antibacterial liquid in their washing machine so any bed linen,clothes. towels etc that may come in contract with your body is not carrying unnecessary levels of bacteria. You also need to be careful around pets - avoid pet hair, pet feces and litter trays,licking and if you pat your pet, wash your hands in antibacterial wash immediately afterwards. Hospitals and radiation centres are filled with very sick people, so I used washable soft cotton gloves in public areas where I knew the bacteria levels would be high eg., ATM machines, handling money, shopping trolleys. It all helps you avoid transferring germs from highly contaminated sources to yourself when your immune system is under huge stress. A big issue is children, especially littlies as they tend to carry many germs, sneeze, cough and touch randomly. Friends with little children were asked to visit without the children for a month. Other people do not want to be so rigorous about these issues or their life circumstances are such that they cannot exercise control over these things. I was obviously worried in my pre and post surgical period to avoid catching an avoidable infection. A friend swore by taking Astrogalis - a mushroom extract.
    over 5 years Comment Flag
  • Jodie Brummet Profile
    anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer
    Good luck with your treatment the unknown is what bothered me most. I had 16 radiation treatments, full breast radiation. My skin had sunburn and small area cracked in armpit. I worked through it all and have 2 small children to care for. I took care of them even when they were sick. I finished treatments may17,2011 and was watersking by June 17th 2011. Keep strong !! Everybodies journey is different :-)
    over 5 years Comment Flag
  • Sharon Danielson Profile
    anonymous
    Survivor since 2007
    I have to say to everybody......Co-Co, Jo, Kaye, Valerie, really wonderful posts sharing your experience with rads. It just goes to show folks, what warrior's women truly are. It is a tough go, this treatment, but we are fighters. I --love-- this board and it is such a privilege to know all of you and thank you all for taking the time to care for other women going through this struggle. Pony-Hugs to all, Sharon
    over 5 years Flag
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      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Hey, Sharon. Thanks for the Atta Girls, as only you can do so well. :-D

      over 5 years Flag
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Amen sister

      over 5 years Flag
  • Valerie Torrence Nichols Profile
    anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer
    I had 33 treatments of radiation. Redness and just being tired. I used the aquaphora the doctor gave me 3 times a day, and vitamin e oil at night I had a lot of itching after radiation treatments ended about day 5.
    over 5 years Comment Flag
  • Erin Timlin Profile
    anonymous
    Survivor since 2011
    I just finished 28 rads last Friday and I only had an issue with underarm burn the last week. darn it! But the doc game me a silver sulfadiazine cream and I am managing. It's not the worst thing in the world. It's annoying more than anything because it's in my underarm and I can't avoid rubbing it whether I have a t shirt or tank top on. As for breast changes, I have an expander in that breast and I am probably not far enough out yet to notice any real changes in the breast itself. You likely won't have the slightest problem for the first two weeks or more. As the others have said, drink water and use the creams and ointments they give you and you'll be ok. Even if you get a slight burn, it's manageable! Oh, and since it's summer, keep the area out of the sun! I bought a few more sleeveless, thin running shirts (Target, Champion brand, 9.99) and I wear them to the beach with my girls over the bathing suit. Works perfectly! Good luck!
    over 5 years Comment Flag
  • tara mollick Profile
    anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer
    I'm very sorry to all the others that had a hard time with radiation. However, my experience was totally different. My treatments were everyday at 9am and I was out of there by 9:10. My doc told me use inexpensive, unscented lotion and drink a gallon of water a day. I did exactly that and I didn't have any problems. I got what looked and felt like a really bad sunburn. Don't spray perfume on your chest and don't use perfume soap. I used ivory. I remember towards the end my bra would bother me Get a really soft one with no underwire for towards the end of treatments. I was tired at the end but my thyroid went haywire so please get yours checked at the end of treatment. (Sometimes a side effect.) my sister n law just went through it and her thyroid is fine. Also, she did the same stuff as I did and didn't have any issues. I wish u the best and I'm sure you'll go through it like a champ!!!!
    over 5 years Comment Flag
  • Viki Ruisi Smith Profile
    anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer
    Expect the breast to feel a little sunburned and maybe itchy. Breast will be a little hard after treatment - but will soften after a few months. Good luck.
    over 5 years Comment Flag
  • Janice Ballard Profile
    anonymous
    Learning About Breast Cancer
    Relax every thing going to be ok my prayer is with you
    over 5 years Comment Flag

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