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Thankfully radiation was nowhere near as tough as chemo was for me. I know that everyone reacts very differently to cancer treatments. I received my treatment at the JCC in Hamilton, and I think the hardest part was finding a parking spot and walking everyday. Oh, and maybe the driving everyday part, too.
I had a total of 25 sessions 5 days a week, for 5 weeks. The amount of treatment you receive depends on your treatment plan and situation. Surprisingly, for me, the treatment went by quite fast. Before I knew it, I was all finished and happily ringing the bell!
Here are ten tips that were extremely helpful for me. I hope they help you coast through radiation!
1.Use glaxal base cream two weeks before radiation, during and at least a week after twice a day. This tip was given to me by a friend and later mentioned by a nurse. This cream acts as a barrier and helps minimize skin changes. It also helps your skin recover after treatment is finished.
2.Bring a book or download a podcast. For the most part, I was quite lucky and didn’t have to wait to long to receive my treatment. There were a couple days where there was a bit of a delay and I had to wait, so I always had a book with me. If I wasn’t in the mood to read, I listened to a podcast. Try to download a few and keep them in your library so you don’t waste your data!
3.Keep the radiated area clean. This is very important. You do not want the area to get an infection. This could cause a lot of problems.
4.Wear loose fitted clothing. The area may be sensitive and you could feel some pain or discomfort as time goes on with treatment. When you wear loose clothes you will less likely bother the area. If you are receiving radiation for breast cancer, I also recommend wearing no bra.
5.Try to stay out of the sun as much as you can. If you do go out, try your best to cover up your skin. The skin may already be red or burnt from treatments and you don't want it to get any worse.
6.Get lots of rest. The most common side effect of radiation is fatigue. The fatigue doesn’t always hit you until after your treatment is finished. Try your best to eat well and keep active with light exercise like walking. Ask your family or friends to help with any cooking or chores around the house too.
7.Stay hydrated. Radiation can lead to dehydration so it’s very important to drink lots of fluids. If you get sick of water, try other liquids. Choose fruits and veggies with a high water content like watermelon or soup.
8.Be gentle with your skin. Do not put cold or heat on the radiated area. Do not rub or scrub the area as well. Use a mild soap and lukewarm water when washing the area. Try to leave it alone as much as you can.
9.Reach out to your doctor or medical team if you have any questions or concerns. Be your own advocate. Never feel silly or embarrassed to ask a question.
10.Give yourself time when treatment is done to rest and heal. The impacts of radiation can last in your body for awhile. Be easy on yourself. Don’t overdo it.
I hope you find these tips helpful! You can do it! Before you know it, you will be ringing that bell and celebrating the completion of treatment!!! I wish you all the best.