I couldn't properly hold my breath for Breath Hold Radiotherapy now worried it will damage my heart

I had the test to try and hold my breath for the Breath Hold Radiotherapy today.  I had a small 1cm tumour on my left breast which they removed with a lumpectomy in July.  I had the test to see if I could hold my breath, but it kept leaking out from somewhere!  I don’t know where!  I suspect they hadn’t explained how to do it properly?  I am normally a fit and well person and non smoker so I should have the lung capacity etc to be able to do this.  Anyway, they tried for 4 times and it didn’t work so they said I couldn’t do it.  I am very worried not that RT will damage my heart and lungs.  They said the could ‘put bits of lead’ over places to prevent damage, but I wasn’t filled with confidence.  Am now thinking I won’t have the RT.  I am 51.  Anyone else had this situation?

Hi Annie. Sorry you had problems with the breathe hold routine. If it helps I can say how I did it. I’m not saying it will work with you but it might do with practice of which I did prior to my rads and got to holding for 45 seconds whereas the actual hold breath during treatment is approx 20/25 secs x 2. They should/will do a practice run prior to the team leaving the room and as with you it didn’t work then they won’t go ahead. Thankfully it only happened once with me so I got off the bed had a walk round and yes they had to measure me up again but second time was fine. So… this was my routine for breath hold. The think to remember is you need to breathe in through the chest and not the stomach. Keep stomach flat and raise the chest. I went straight to the breath hold no countdown so once you hear over the speaker “ok take that breath for me please”. Exhale deep then breath in slowly through the mouth raising chest st the same time for 2/3 seconds continue to inhale but close the mouth for the last few seconds still bring the chest up. At this point I put my tongue to the roof of my mouth and held at the same time pushing my chest up from the inside. Sound complicated but it worked well for me. Give it a try it might help. The team will know once your chest is high enough and the breath is deep enough. Don’t let out any air through the nose as the chest will drop and so will the machine. Keep practising you will get there. My oncologist said with the left side there is the possibility of the heart and lungs being damaged by the treatment and that this will be monitored during appointments. Good luck.

Did they remember to put a peg on your nose? I ask only because the one time during my 15 breath hold rads when I struggled to get through it was the time they realised afterwards that I hadn’t had the nose peg on. It’s pretty hard to hold your breath for extended periods without the nose peg because you do get leakage through your nose…