If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, you may be preparing to undergo radiation. The thought of getting radiation can be scary or worrying, especially when you don’t know what to expect. Below, we’ll help you feel more prepared for your first radiation treatment and beyond, so you can relax and get back to the most important thing—beating cancer.
What does radiation treatment do?
Radiation therapy uses beams of high-energy waves called radiation to treat most types of cancer. The energy waves aim precise amounts of targeted radiation at tumors or other parts of the body where the cancer is wreaking havoc.
During this appointment, your oncologist will determine the best treatment plan for you. You’ll likely have x-rays taken to assist with mapping out where your radiation therapy will be administered.
Depending on your oncologist’s recommendations, you’ll likely undergo daily or frequent radiation appointments of around 5-6 days a week.
How to Prepare for Radiation Appointments
Tip 1: Wear Comfortable Clothing – be sure to wear comfortable loose clothes, especially over the area being treated. You will likely be in a room for around 15-30 minutes and oftentimes asked to lie down.
Tip 2: Practice Relaxation – radiation can oftentimes be an uncomfortable or even painful experience, especially after many treatments. It will take determination and willpower to keep coming back. Breathing techniques and meditation can help you get in a calmer headspace.
Tip 3: Abstain From Eating – radiation can make you feel queasy. If you experience nausea, try not eating a few hours before your next treatments.
Tip 4: Bring Distractions – you’ll want to bring things that make you happy, like your favorite books, magazines, beverages (like tea), snacks, or other creature comforts like lotions, lip balms, and mints.
Tip 5: Have A Support System – if you can, bring along someone you care about to help make your appointment seem less daunting. Having your support system nearby can improve the experience immensely.
Effects of Radiation
Fatigue: Radiation can cause increased tiredness. Be sure to get plenty of sleep. If you work at a desk job or something that doesn’t require driving or operating machinery, the fatigue should not deeply impact your overall life.
Nausea: while nausea is rare with radiation therapy for some cancers, it does happen. Avoid eating before your appointment and try natural remedies to settle your stomach like peppermint and ginger.
Changes to skin: radiation can cause the skin to become red and itchy in affected areas. Your skin may eventually begin to feel and appear as if there are burns on the affected areas. Treatments include avoiding direct sunlight in affected areas, using mild soap, and topical creams. Rejuvaskin offers specific skincare products for cancer patients, including the Revive Radiation Cream, which is specially formulated to provide relief to the areas of your skin affected by radiation by soothing and revitalizing the areas.
Hopefully these preparation tips help you feel more at ease going into your first radiation appointment. And remember, you’re not alone.