How tired after Radiotherapy?

I have a question and not sure who to ask! I am 58 and recently diagnosed with bc - st1, gr2 4 lymph nodes removal and all clear and CT clear, No chemo (had Oncotype test) ER8 PR8 . I have had surgery (mid-September) and started the hormone therapy. I was told there is a waiting delay due to being busy for radiotherapy and this should be sometime in January.
I am trying to keep optimistic and get on with life :blush:single Mum to 16 year old so got to keep going and trying to not pass on worries – even if I have a private wobble about it all from time to time.
I have a work trip overseas for two days in the middle of January. If the treatment is not at that exact time, I would like to go because it will be good for work (I am self employed for my sins! :blush:) but mostly because I really love this particular trip each year and thinking about asking school if my daughter can come along as may be really interesting for her to see this side of work. I wonder though if I am being too optimistic? If its just after radiotherapy (which is five days) am I likely to feel up to it do you think? It is quite exhausting as two days walking round huge trade show, and more importantly, can it have any negative effect on the treatment if I overdo it? I don’t want to do anything that will not help the treatment but maybe its fine with radiotherapy? I just don’t know!
Thank you for any advice.
Sending lots of love and hugs to everyone going through all this.
A huge thank you as well – I am someone that is far to shy to post anything as a rule – however, all your advice and questions and answers in the forum have got me through and prepared me for each part of the process and helped with my emotions as well. Thank you.xx

Hi @caro631 I had the 5 day rads starting a year ago in two days time actually! I had just turned 67 and had started Letrozole 4 weeks before. I did get fatigue but it didn’t start for five weeks after rads finished (on Christmas Day in fact - helpful) and lasted on and off for about four months. All the advice is, however, to bust through fatigue with exercise, despite it being counter-intuitive. I don’t know if travelling and trade shows can be counted as exercise but it probably would be doable. Usual caveat that we all react differently to treatment. What would your BC nurse say? Or ask the radiologist when you go for your planning appointment perhaps. If you know you’ll enjoy it, I’d say that is therapeutic in itself.

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I had fatigue for a few months but it didn’t start until about a month after my radiotherapy (over 5 days) finished.

Mine started a few days after and was quite bad for about 10 days . After that it came and went for a couple of months but i think was partly extended by me overdoing things a bit ( travelling to my Dad’s and back as he wasn’t well) . When I was really tired I also felt a bit sick as well but that seems to be a weakness with me. I would have suggested postponing your radiotherapy by a couple of weeks but it’s already delayed so that’s not really an option .

So if you do overdo it you might find it catches up with you and causes more fatigue afterwards but whether that would cause you any lasting problems - I wouldn’t have thought so if you give yourself time to rest and get over it when you get back. You should check with your team though. Also think about stuff like travel insurance .

What you are suggesting may well be doable but if you are able to take it a little easier than usual and maybe schedule an hour to rest and chill out / have a nap in the day that would help. Also you will need to make time to do the post- surgery exercises and to moisturise 2-4 times daily , if you are anywhere hot and sunny ( that in itself might do you good ! ) be sure to cover up as well.

A lot of reactions to treatment are purely physical but more and more I find there’s a psychological element and if you’re looking forward to it and see it as a welcome break / a milestone in your recovery etc then maybe it’s possible . I have to say I wasn’t very patient and tried to do some things too soon and sustained a couple of injuries - neither serious but they’re a nuisance .

Take care
Joanne. X

I had 5 days radiotherapy and left for a three week tour of Patagonia with hiking 10 days afterwards. I was anxious about fatigue but I was fine. I am 70 but fit for my age. I think keeping fit and healthy before and during treatment will help with reducing side effects.

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Hi there!! My twin sister had a lumpectomy in May, and had radiation in August. She never had any tiredness at all! She had it 5 days a week for 4 weeks, and just felt normal the entire time. She doesn’t have to have chemo and was excited also when her oncologist said that her oncotype test came back with an unusual result… Zero chance of recurrance! If you have already started the radiation before you take your trip, and see that you are going to be extra tired, you can always just not go. I think it would be great if you were able to go and bring your daughter with you!! She would learn a lot!! Anyway, wishing you the best of luck with everything!!

I had 5 days of radiotherapy with very few side effects apart the fatigue! I think from memory it came on about 2 or 3 weeks after finishing. It really did hit me at the time I suddenly felt exhausted like nothing I had experienced before and had to sit down for an hour or so and then was ok! It did last a few weeks though. I don’t think you can do any harm though by carrying on if you can. I think you just have to listen to your own body and rest when and if you can. Hope that helps.
Good luck with everything

I went on a delayed 7 night holiday which included a 4 hour flight 2 weeks after finishing my radiotherapy and just took things easy

I think you need to manage your physical activity so you dont overtire or become ‘down’

Its very easy to try and carry on but you should rest, you should moisturise as much as you can, and you should eat well

Talk to your team and radiotherapy team about your plans and concerns, they will guide you

I don’t think you need to reschedule any treatments but knowing that fatigue, and side effects such as ‘cooked’ boob might need considerations is about being properly informed

You are almost there so stay focused and look after yourself

I had 15 sessions of radiotherapy and 4 days later we went away thinking it would do me good but i was so poorley and fatiuged i spent the whole holiday in my room but everyone is diffrent get some advice from the radiologist they are very good

Everyone responds differently, but I would say go for it if you want to. I’ve recently finished 20 days of radiotherapy and I carried on with everything as normal, including a charity walking challenge, and I think this helped me through it. I didn’t really get much fatigue and the radiographers said there wasn’t anything I needed to avoid. Whatever you decide will be the right choice for you.

@caro631 I finished 5 days of radiotherapy a week ago. No tiredness as yet but breast is a bit sore & painful. We all respond differently to radiotherapy & in my experience, different medical practitioners give different time frames for tiredness - if it happens- to kick in. It sounds as though the trip means a lot to you & you say you love it. Your mental health is important so go with that. I wasn’t advised by any medical person against doing anything specific after radiotherapy. I enjoy running & it gives me a mental boost so I continued running before, during & since my radiotherapy. I don’t run fast but it feels good & I was told this was totally fine. And well done for posting - not always easy to be open about these things xx

My friend had 5 days and seemed to be fine. I’m waiting on my lymph node results after only a 2mm invasive and 5mm DCIS. Breast care nurse and consultant both said short stint of radiotherapy is very likely so I’m reading your responses with interest. I’m not sure what to tell school. I’m a teacher and I’ve been off for 7 weeks now. Sigh!

Hi @tiggles

I just wanted to say don’t be tempted to rush back afterwards and don’t feel guilty about asking for more sicknotes though it is hard not to . Doing things at your own pace is one thing but going to work and doing things at everyone else’s pace when you might not be ready for that is something else entirely . You might also need some time / space to process mentally .

Joanne x

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I’m a teacher and have taken a good Chuck of time off to deal with coming off hrt, starting Tamoxifen and getting through radio therapy. In a way it’s been easier to know that that’s what’s happening for all, and I’ve needed it.,

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Thanks for replying. Have you taken the radiotherapy time off too? There’s something particular to teaching that means you have to be on top form so the idea of going back in after a session of radiotherapy feels scary to me. My peri symptoms are rubbish without HRT particularly poor sleep and joint pain. Did your symptoms get worse when you started the Tamoxifen? xx

I’ve had so many issues for the last few years that, with much discussion with BC nurses, I decided to take a chunk of time off covering recovery and radiotherapy, coming off Hrt and adjusting to tamoxifen. Part of that has been building up routines of exercise too, to strengthen joints and see if that helps everything. It may be as long as 6 months in total by the time I’m ready, I’m not sure. Going to see. So radiotherapy was during this period of time. My surgery was during the school holidays so some of the time has been part of that.

I started tamoxifen about 5-6 weeks after my surgery. It did at first but I’ve been doing a lot of paced weights, stretching and exercise, plus being able to rest, sleep and recover has really helped. I’ve used the book Moving Through Cancer which has exercise routines etc. there’s another one called get your oomph back, both have websites with some exercise videos and visuals too.

At the moment I’m tired after radio, lots of naps and some days I’m barely doing anything but also walking the dog and doing weights at least 2 a week. As I feel better I aim to re start the cardio. Tamoxifen/ meno symptoms seem to be easing a lot but I’ve no idea if that’s going to last. These things can take a long time I believe.

I’ve been on tamoxifen nearly 3 months now

I feel overwhelmed by all the kind responses – thank you so much for taking the time to post. Reading through everyone’s experiences I think gives me a very good idea of what to expect, although I appreciate, we are all different. I am surprised that the tiredness can go on for such a long time and pleased to have the heads up for this - I imagine by then friends and family are thinking you are fine so the naps may seem surprising so if this happens to me I will be able to say it is a thing! :blush: not me just wanting a lazy nap!
I also hadn’t realised quite how important the looking after the ‘cooked’ area is – so I am going to be careful to moisturise and do exercises.
Thank you all! What a lovely group. Xx
Ps I think I’m going to chance it and go on the mini break / work trip as was the reason I posted but I will as suggested, talk to the radiotherapy team when I go for the first appointment.


Hi again @caro631

Best wishes for your treatment and enjoy your mini break .

With love
Joanne x

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