Stress of radiotherapy

Hi I am new to the forum. I have just started radiotherapy and had 2 sessions so far. I had mastectomy in January and 6 sessions of chemo and now on to radiotherapy. I am finding it much harder than I thought. I find it stressful lying exposed for 15 minutes with male radiographers as well as female. I am still coming to terms with the way I look after my mastectomy and so it’s hard being exposed and moved around by especially the male radiographers. I also find keeping still in that awkward position hard especially as my operation side where I had lymph nodes removed gets pins and needles. The whole thing is stressful and I din’t Know why I feel like this as everyone said compared to chemo it is easy. I guess it’s the emotion of it all as well as having endured 7 months of this cancer journey and I have no reserves left. Has any one else felt like this? I have 13 more to go and it feels daunting at the moment. Thanks.

I didn’t have a mastectomy but I also found the radiotherapy difficult. I think it is perfectly understandable how you feel. Firstly, they can cover you with a gown for the treatment, you only need to be uncovered for the setting up. Secondly, I would to speak to the department and ask if it’s possible for you to have a female team? It might not be possible all the time, but even if it was a woman doing the positioning it might help. Please ring them and ask to speak to the superintendent radiographer and explain your concerns. When I contacted the department where I was treated about my experience I was told “we don’t get complaints” (I wasn’t making a formal complaint by the way!) if they don’t know, they can’t do anything about it. I hope you’re okay.

Thanks Citty I will ask them tomorrow to cover me up after set up. I have a review tomorrow as well so I think I’ll ask for female team as you suggested. It’s good to know I am not the only one struggling with this as I didn’t expect to feel like I do. Thanks again.

Thanks Chick 1 for your understanding, it helps to know I am not alone. Thanks Citty for remembering I had review today. My treatment was a bit better today as I had 2 female radiographers and they covered me up after set up. I had my review afterwards and the radiographer was lovely, I broke down in tears saying I found it stressful and explained and she said it’s not unusual to feel like this and she can request female radiographers every time and they should have covered me up each time. She also said some people find that as radiotherapy is not so invasive as chemo there is more time to think about things and the emotions of the past months and cancer journey begin to hit home. It’s like suddenly realising what has happened over the last 8 months. That makes sense to me too as I feel the flood gates have opened now! I think during chemo you are just focusing on getting through each day. I am very grateful for this forum and people’s understanding as people who haven’t been through it don’t get it. We are all different but friends generally think I have finished the chemo now so should be feeling better. It’s not that simple as you know. Thanks again and hopefully it will be a bit easier again tomorrow.

Hello Shas,
Thanks for your response. So glad it felt better for you today and that you had a constructive Review meeting. All the very best to you with the rest of your treatment and beyond x ?

Hi Shaz,
So pleased you have managed to sort things out at your review meeting.
I found that as my appointment was late in the day, more often then not I never saw the same team each day. However, although there were male male techs in the team I never felt uncomfortable as they were always very respectful and everyone always had a strip of paper towel to hand to cover me back up once I’d been set up.
I have to admit that I did take the view of “they’ve seen it all before” as i noticed that actually they were more interested in making sure i was set up properly and in the right position rather then making any judgements about how hairy my armpit was ?
My teams were always mixed as well and no matter what, everyone was always very kind and sweet. I missed my review appointment as it was on my last day of treatment and noone told me the time!!!
Please just continue to tell them how you feel. It’s a journey none of us adked to be on so if tbete are tbings to make it a less bumpy ride, lets make sure we ask.
Take care xxxxx

Blimey, I had a case of fat fingers writting that ???

Hi Sunflower thank you for your supportive message. You are right that the radiographers get in to automatic mode and it can seem impersonal and they are going through the motions. I now have had females each time and am getting to know a few of them so it’s easier from that point of view. It is better not having male staff moving you around. I have had 6 sessions now so 9 to go! I have had a new challenge now which started on Tuesday after my 4th session. I was in excruciating pain that night in my neck arm and shoulder in the operation side. It appears the radiotherapy and holding the position for it had affected my muscles and nerves that were damaged in the mastectomy and lymph glands removal. I had to miss a days treatment and have been put on strong pain relief and diazepam to stop the nerve spasm so I can continue with the radiotherapy. It’s been so painful and the drugs making me so sleepy and I can’t drive or do much! I have managed to continue with the treatment but have 9 more to go so wondering if I’ll make it. Chick 1 you mentioned losing arm movement I have that now too and the staff have to raise my arm for me as I can’t now. I don’t know if anyone else has had this problem with pain? The Gp told me it was common. I just hope I survive the next few weeks and I eventually get arm movement back and the pain recedes. It never ends does it and things you think would be easy turn out the opposite! Still I have got this far so I will get there!!! All the best to you all and thanks for listening! x

Hello Sunflower ?,

So sorry to hear you have the end of treatment blues. It can be so difficult managing the post treatment fears and anxieties. I have my moments too.

You do things at your own pace and in the way that is best for you. We can go through so much and we need time to adapt and manage it. If you are feeling really down, I hope you have access to appropriate support whether GP or otherwise.

In the meantime sweet ?, I am sending you a mega hug ? and positive wishes X ?

Hi Sunflower
Thank you for your kind message. Yes I finished my rads last Thursday. I am still in some pain but each day it gets a bit better. The soreness isn’t too bad at the moment as been using medihoney which seems to be helping a bit. It’s interesting what you said about post treatment blues in your other message as I am going through that. On Friday after finishing rads I felt like I reached the finishing line and had collapsed! I had no energy and felt very low and been tired and emotional since. It’s been 9 months of treatment and it takes it out of you. I think during the treatment you are just trying to get through each day and it’s only now it’s over that it’s all hitting me emotionally and I can process what has happened. It’s scary stuff and there is always the worry of a recurrence. I know this is normal after treatment to feel low so I expect as each day goes by and my body recovers I will begin to feel better. I hope you feel better too and be kind to yourself as we have all been through a lot. Take care.