Non-Medical Advice from a Breast Cancer Survivor
Your radiation oncologist will probably give you lots of information before you begin your radiation therapy. I want to share with you some non-medical advice that helped me. Here’s some things, I think you should know before you begin breast cancer radiation treatments.
Just as with chemotherapy, each patient reacts differently to treatment. However, here are a few things that may help you through your breast cancer radiation treatments.
My first bit of advice is to not “Google” radiation images. I did and I can say there are some gruesome photos on there. Just don’t do it! I’ve spoken with many people who have gone through radiation and none of them had anything close to what is in those photos. So just don’t even go there!
Radiation isn’t fun but it isn’t anything to fear or dread. It can be uncomfortable though, and you have to be proactive and take care of your skin and yourself. The better you do that, the better you will feel!
how to take care of your skin during radiation treatments
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For me, the best way to describe how it felt is going to the beach and getting a light sunburn. The next day you go back out on the beach and get a light sunburn. Repeat that process every day for five days then take a two-day break and start again until you reach the end of your treatments. That’s sort of the way I felt through the process. You get a little more tender and sore as the treatments go on.
The good news is that it doesn’t start out on the first day of treatments. It takes several treatments to start to feel tender. The most important thing you can do is care for your skin. I started moisturizing the area a couple weeks before my radiation began. Your radiation team will give you suggestions on what to use. My doctor suggested Carrasyn Gel and Gold Bond Healing lotion and they worked well for me but I have friends who were told other products to use and they worked equally as well for them. Be sure to ask your doctor which one he or she recommends. But, whatever lotion you use, my advice is to use it liberally morning, noon and night. It will really help.
My favorite product for radiation treatments
The one product I think everyone should have if they are going through radiation for breasts cancer is the Lindi Cool Roll.
Radiation can make your skin feel hot (like a sunburn). The Lindi Cool roll is a 4”x60” roll that you leave in the refrigerator. It reminds me of a really large slippery fruit roll-up. It is infused with aloe and green tea extract. You cut off the amount you need and apply it to the “hot” burning area. It is instant relief! It sucks the heat right out of your skin. I honestly can’t imagine going through treatments without it. You cut off only what you need, and you can use each strip two or three times before it dries out so a roll goes a long way. (Just pop the used strip in a ziplock bag and stick it back into the refrigerator. The Lindi Cool Roll is worth every penny! Please trust me on this.
The Best Clothing to wear during radiation treatments
Before you begin treatments, I would suggest buying a very lightweight, comfortable, wire-free bra or bralette. Get one with clasps, not the pull-over-your-head kind. If you are like I was, you’ll only wear a bra when you absolutely have to during this time.
If you don’t have loose fitting, soft, comfortable shirts, now is the time to get those too. You won’t want anything scratchy touching you. I walked around the stores touching all the fabrics looking for the softest shirts I could find. $5.00 t-shirts from Walmart’s sleepwear department ended up being my favorites to wear around the house. I also claimed every worn-out t-shirt my husband had.
Don’t spend a lot of money on these shirts though. I applied the lotion so thick at night that it stained a couple of my shirts.
Take it easy on yourself. Radiation can make you tired and fatigued. Just go with it. Get plenty of rest, eat healthy, and take extra good care of yourself.
And remember this is only for a little while. With each treatment you are getting better. It may not feel like it, but the radiation is killing those cancer cells and healing you. You can do this!