Archive for the ‘Living with Radiation Side Effects’ Category

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Radiation Side Effects from Oral Radiation Therapy

file3691233875457Patients undergoing radiation treatment orally can face unique challenges from patients being treated in other areas of the body. Here are some of the radiation side effects that may occur for people being treated for mouth or throat cancer.

Dry mouth: During the weeks of oral radiation treatment, one’s mouth may become very dry which can lead to difficulty eating, talking, and swallowing. It can also hasten tooth decay, so it’s important to restore moisture. Patients may find it helpful to drink lots of water, suck or chew ice chips or sugar-free hard candy, chew sugar free gum, and use a saliva substitute.

Throat and mouth pain: Another radiation side effect in the mouth can be painful ulcers, redness and inflammation. In this circumstance, doctors will often recommend medicines or special numbing oral rinses to help control the pain in the throat and mouth.

Painful or bleeding gums: The tissue in the mouth can become so sensitive that regular activities like brushing and using a toothpick can cause a great deal of pain and trauma to inflamed gums. SO it’s best to go extra gentle with the area. This can also lead to infection if lesions are left unchecked, so patients will want to stay aware of what’s happening in their mouths and let their health care practitioner know immediately if anything looks out of the ordinary.

Tooth decay: Radiation treatment can cause tooth decay in a big way, so it’s extra important to care for the teeth and gums meticulously while undergoing treatment. The recommendation from dentists for those who are in this scenario is to brush teeth, tongue and gums with an extra-soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste after every meal and before bed. Some dentists also recommend fluoride trays, and regular rinsing with a salt/baking soda/water mixture.

Infection: Dry mouth and damage to the lining of the mouth from radiation therapy can cause infection to develop. It helps to check your mouth every day for sores or other changes and to tell your doctor or nurse about any mouth problems.

Stiffness in jaw: Radiation side effects from oral treatment can include jaw problems because the radiation affects the muscles used for chewing. This can make it difficult to open one’s mouth. Sometimes the condition can be eased greatly by simply exercising those muscles by opening and closing the mouth as much as possible and holding each position for a while.

Denture problems: Treatment may create enough of a change inside one’s mouth that their dentures don’t fit right anymore. Also, it can be difficult to even wear them because of how dry and inflamed the mouth tissues can become.

Taste and smell differences: Food and odors may be perceived differently after treatment. Some of the changes may even be permanent for some people.

Vocal changes: If the radiation is directed towards the neck, the larynx may swell, resulting in changes to one’s voice as well as fatigue talking. Sometimes medicine is given for this to bring swelling down.

Thyroid changes: If a patient’s thyroid is affected, he or she may begin to feel tired, lethargic, cold, gain weight and have dry skin and hair. A doctor can prescribe thyroid hormone to help support the thyroid and reduce those symptoms.

Skin changes: Skin on the patient’s face and neck may be affected in a similar way to getting a sunburn. Skin may become red, dry and fragile. Patients may want to be careful about shaving or applying skin care products, as they may be irritating.

Fatigue: Fatigue is a common radiation side effect that affects most patients being treated with radiation therapy. It is the same with people undergoing oral treatment.

These are most of the side effects that people undergoing oral radiation therapy experience. It’s always important to have a detailed discussion with a healthcare practitioner before beginning any kind of treatment though, so that expectations, protocol and symptoms can be managed.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Nalie Agustin Dealing with Radiation Side Effects

NalieNalie Agustin has been chronicling her experiences going through treatment for breast cancer, ed and coping with radiation side effects.

Here is her story: It all started back in 2012 when I felt lumps in my left breast while showering. I mentioned it to my family doctor who examined me and said, vialis 40mg “At your age, look 85% of the time, it’s just a cyst!” but she gave me a referral paper to book an ultra-sound just in case.

Months passed, seasons changed, relationships ended and I only decided to get that ultra-sound in July 2013. One test led to another and on July 17, 2013 I heard the scariest 3 words of my life: “You have cancer”.

I was diagnosed with stage 2B invasive breast cancer with 2 tumors in the left breast and 1 in the lymph node. The biggest one being 4x4cm. My cancer is Estrogen and Progesterone positive. HER2 and BRCA1 negative, and has thankfully not metastasized.

Treatments began immediately starting with 4 rounds of A/C chemotherapy once every 3 weeks followed by 12 weekly rounds of Taxol.

A month later, I was scheduled for a full mastectomy: the removal of my entire left breast with immediate reconstruction.

Once healed, 5 weeks of Radiation was scheduled for extra cancer cell destruction. Treatments then end with a daily intake of hormone pills for 5 years of prevention.

From the very first day I was told I had cancer; I decided to record and write about my journey through the world of oncology. At first, it was for myself, as my form of therapy. But now, it’s become clear that my blog is for far more than just that…

You can see more of Nalie at her blog and in this video as she copes with radiation side effects:

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Radiation Side Effects: How To Cope with Fatigue

Radiation Side Effects: FatigueFatigue is a common side effect of radiation therapy. While undergoing treatment, you may find that you are far more tired than usual and that you simply don’t have the energy to attend to the tasks of your day as you used to. This does not mean that the cancer is getting worse or that the treatments are not working. It could just be the fatigue that is a common side effect of getting radiation therapy.

Here are some tips to help you cope with fatigue if you’re experiencing it:

1. Let’s face it. You’re going to need more rest as your body undergoes treatment and tries to heal. So make it a priority to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Whatever you usually do in those late hours before bed may not be as vital as your rest, so consider letting them go. Reading a book before bed can help tire your mind out so that you fall asleep more soundly. And if you are able, take short naps (about a half hour is generally good) during the day.

2. Believe it or not, most people coping with fatigue as a radiation therapy side effect find it helpful to exercise each day. A simple 15-30 minute walk or bike ride can make a big difference.

3. Ask for help when you need it. See if you can lessen your work schedule and go into the office part-time for a few weeks. Ask your loved ones for assistance.

4. Slow down, rather than give up. You might simply allow tasks to take you longer to complete, or you might find this approach works the best: Do a task, take a break, do another task, take a break.

5. Make yourself a priority. Honor your limits and do the things that are most important to you first so that you’re sure you have enough energy for them.

Fatigue caused by radiation therapy often clears up after treatment ends but some people find that it lingers for quite a while. So be gentle with yourself. If your fatigue isn’t helped by these tips, or if it is strong enough to cause you concern, talk to your nurse or doctor about it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Radiation Side Effects: How To Cope with Nausea

Nausea is a common side effect of radiation therapy. Within a few hours of receiving treatment, you may find that your radiation side effects: nauseastomach is upset and you may even have the urge to vomit. This does not mean that the cancer is getting worse or that the treatments are not working. You could just be experiencing one of the common radiation side effects.

Here are some tips to help you cope with nausea if you are experiencing it as one of the radiation side effects:

1. Go easy on your stomach. Eat smaller amounts more often, and chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Try to avoid foods that are heavy on spices or fats, as these can be a lot for your stomach to digest.

2. Try to eat when you don’t feel sick – perhaps several hours before or after your radiation treatment. This will help your body manage the food and digestive process better.

3. Some people find that salty foods and cold foods, along with ice cold drinks, can be helpful in keeping the stomach settled. Try both and see what helps you the most.

4. If you need to lie down, try keeping your head propped up above your stomach. Sometimes the moving around of stomach acid can lead to an upset stomach.

If you are indeed throwing up as a result of your radiation treatments, you may become dehydrated. Be sure to drink extra water and speak with your health care staff to make sure your body maintains an optimal level of fluids.

As always, if your symptoms seem extreme or give you reason for alarm, alert your doctor or nurse immediately.

Most radiation side effects such as nausea, will only be with you for a short while until a bit after you’ve stopped radiation and your body has had time to recover and regain balance. As long as you’re under the supervision of a healthcare professional, you should be in good hands. Just take it easy, take care of yourself and allow for more resting and slow moving days than you would if everything were normal.

You are in a healing process and its important to take good care of yourself and also to stay out of stress or judgment as much as you are able to.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Radiation Side Effects Common In Breast Cancer Treatment

In this short video, hospital Dr. Forouzannia explains the acute and long-term side effects of breast cancer radiation therapy. Acute radiation side effects experienced during the treatment include fatigue, generic skin irritation, and irritation of the ribs. Long-term effects could include risk of lung fibrosis, damage to the lung and heart, and increased likelihood of developing heart disease.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

E’s Giuliana Rancic To Cope with Radiation Side Effects

E! News anchor, Giuliana Rancic Giuliana Rancicwill be going through what so many of us have experienced: radiation side effects. She recently learned that she has Stage I breast cancer thanks to a mandatory screening prior to undergoing IVF treatment.

Treatment for breast cancer is determined according to a number of different factors, including tumor size, cancer type, the speed with which the cancer is growing, how far it’s spread, the woman’s age and general health, whether she’s had breast cancer before, etc. In Giuliana’s case, her doctors and health care team have determined that her treatment protocol will involve surgery and radiotherapy.

Most people who undergo a lumpectomy will experience a recovery time ranging from one day to two weeks. In most cases, radiation therapy causes radiation side effects such as skin redness and burning, fatigue, and nausea. Giuliana can support her skin by using a good cream, avoiding irritating clothing, and staying out of the sun.

Another thing that can help women recover from a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is a good support system. Fortunately for Giuliana, her husband Bill Rancic has been extremely supportive.

“Bill is unbelievable,” Giuliana said. “He lets me cry when I want to cry, he doesn’t say, ‘Hey, look at that person who’s worse off than you are.’ He just lets me feel what I’m feeling.”

So with a few months of medical care, including surgery and radiation side effects, ahead of her, how does Giuliana feel about continuing her IVF treatment?

She has said, “I’m not gonna give up, I want that baby. And what’s amazing is that baby will have saved my life…Now I truly believe that God was looking out for me. Had I gotten pregnant [earlier], a few years down the line I could be a lot sicker.”

We are grateful to see that another woman has caught breast cancer early and are reminded of how important it is for all of us as adult women to be proactive about our health. Staying on top of diagnostic testing is so important in being able to nip cancer as early as possible so that we can live our lives to the fullest for many years to come.

Our prayers go out to Giuliana and Bill, and to every other woman who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. May your journey be grace-filled and may you have all the support and resources you need.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why It’s Not Just Hair

GUEST POST BY MICHELLE YOUNG FROM 4WOMEN.COM

Susan Beausang

Susan Beausang, Founder 4Women.com andamp; the BeauBeau

It’s on the calendar – date, time and place, an appointment you never imagined yourself having to keep, an appointment you never wanted, an appointment you wouldn’t dare miss.  It will be your first chemo treatment.  It is still a couple weeks away, which means you have plenty of time to imagine what it will be.  If you are at all like me, you might find yourself imagining every shade of worst-case scenario.  While we may not have much choice about keeping that appointment on the calendar, we do have choices when it comes to the thoughts we choose and the actions we take.  Ideally, our goal is to not just cope with the reality of cancer, but to turn our anticipation, reluctance, and fear into a determination to imagine and create our own best-case scenarios.

Cancer throws us into the “present tense of crisis”1 in the same way that a hurricane or tornado does.  Just as anticipation of a hurricane stirs us to take actions to protect ourselves from the worst forces of the storm, so can anticipation of cancer treatment and its potential side effects propel us into actions intended to empower us to not just cope, but to thrive.  A positive self-image coupled with a strong sense of self-love help fuel our motivation to seek out that which feeds and nourishes our bodies and our souls.  A cancer diagnosis can catapult our relationship with our bodies and with ourselves into the wind as we suddenly feel like an entirely different person from the person we were pre-diagnosis.  We want desperately to hold onto our self-identity and our sense of “normal,” but the sometimes drastic changes in our physical bodies and appearance that result from cancer treatment can leave us feeling robbed of ourselves and utterly disempowered.

We are not vain for caring.  Appearance changes can significantly impact our perceived quality of life during cancer treatment.  Some women find that though they feel generally well, one glance in the mirror sends a sharp reminder that they are “sick,” posing a major visual obstacle to self-identifying as “well.”  In the words of one respondent to a 4Women.com survey, “Hair loss branded me as a cancer patient and ‘different’ when I desperately wanted to hold on to the normal parts of my life.”

That is why it is not just hair.  Without hair, we feel stripped of our identity and in the context of cancer, it often feels like we are systematically being stripped of ourselves.  We have every right to want to feel good about ourselves because at no time is such love of self more important than when fighting cancer.

The BeauBeau

Woman wearing the BeauBeau

By taking proactive steps to determine our appearance without hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, we can boost our self-confidence and reduce that sense of “present tense crisis.”  By regaining even a small sense of control over those factors we can control (such as outward appearance), our burden lightens and we gain both strength and motivation to take other day-to-day actions aimed at improving our overall quality of life during and after cancer treatment.

For specific tips for turning your hair loss anxiety into self-empowerment and creating your own best-case scenarios, visit 4Women.com’s blog.  The tips appearing there were all provided by women who anonymously responded to 4Women.com’s survey exploring anticipatory coping strategies among women who lose or are likely to lose their hair during chemotherapy treatment.  Their tips remind us that we are not alone on this path.

1Chemobabe blog 6/24/11 post titled “Shifting Time”

4women.com is a wonderful resource for those going through hair loss due to chemotherapy side effects and other conditions. They have a community blog with tips and stories of others experiencing Alopecia, and they sell the popular BeauBeau, a fun, stylish, comfortable head scarf that comes in more than 350 different fabrics (featured in the photos above). Click here to visit their site!

Monday, July 11, 2011

One Step at a Time

If you’re healing from cancer or cancer treatments and are coping with radiation side effects, or side effects from chemotherapy, one step at a timeyou may feel overwhelmed. If you’ve been trying to heal from eczema and haven’t yet been able to clear it up, you may feel resigned or frustrated. If your life seems particularly demanding right now, if it’s pushing you to new limits, know that you don’t have to run full force to the finish line. You just have to do what is before you. You just have to take one step at a time. Take good care of yourself by resting, moving at a pace that feels comfortable, and allowing yourself to handle no more than what you can handle. Right now, you just have to take one step at a time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Radiation Side Effects

Cancer is a life threatening disease but in many cases, for sale it can be cured – especially if diagnosed early. For treating cancerous cells radiation side effectsdoctor use chemotherapy, cialis immunotherapy, hormone therapy and radiotherapy. In radiotherapy, the DNA of cancerous cells is destroyed so that the cells can’t multiply and infect surrounding healthy cells. Radiotherapy is relatively painless compared with other cancer treatments, but the radiation side effects can be upsetting and cause serious discomfort and pain. Radiation burns the skin, which often breaks it into flakes or blisters. Proper skin care of the radiated area is a must for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.

Skin Care for Radiation Side Effects

Radiated skin should be inspected periodically for redness and patients should be questioned about itching, burning or changes in sensation. How a patient responds to radiation depends upon his health, where on the body the patient receives radiation, and the intensity of the treatment prescribed. Sometimes the radiated skin displays only redness and moderate burning but in many cases of radiation side effects, patients also have terrible sensitivity, peeling and even blistering. This is why good skin care is a so important for patients receiving radiotherapy. Cancer patients should note the changes in skin and see their doctor if they feel any difference in sensation. Doctors recommend Jeans Cream to treat radiated skin because it has helped so many of their patients and works better than the other products out there.

Jeans Cream for Relief from Radiation Side Effects

Eminent doctors and premier hospitals around US recommend Jeans Cream to cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment. Radiation side effects can be so severe that people’s skin endures permanent changes. With Jeans Cream, cancer patients can help their body to recover from any damage. It is made of a proprietary blend of natural nutrients that provide vital support to the skin. Jeans Cream sets deep inside the skin and its ingredients are known for helping the body to repair the broken tissues and burnt cells, which makes it the perfect ally to radiated skin.

Choosing a Healing Cream

There are many lotions and ointments available for treating radiation side effects but many don’t work and the patient’s skin continues to break down during the course of treatment, sometimes even requiring the patient to stop vital therapy. Jeans Cream, however, has a great track record and can often provide relief where other creams have not. Jeans Cream contains high quality, high potency natural ingredients known to help repair damaged skin, nourish damaged cells and gradually erase the signs of radiation from the skin. Many cancer patients continue using Jeans Cream even after the radiotherapy treatment is over. This skin nourishment cream can help keep your radiated skin in good condition.