Come join others currently navigating treatment in our weekly Zoom Meetup! Register here: Tuesdays, 1pm ET.
Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

Radiation side effects?

Options
Kfmama2
Kfmama2 Member Posts: 8

Hi,

I just had my 3rd treatment out of 20.I’m doing deep breath holds during treatments to move my heart out of the way. Yesterday after my second treatment, I had a bad headache, mild nausea, and brain fog. I had a lumpectomy a month ago and no chemo. Today I told the tech that I didn’t feel great yesterday and she said that the radiation would not have caused those symptoms. Anyone else feel flu-ish after radiation? Thanks

«1

Comments

  • Mymomsgirl
    Mymomsgirl Member Posts: 95
    Options

    Kfmama2 I did the deep breath holds and had no issues except once or twice I felt like I couldn't hold my breath the whole time , but I did it, I'm sure it was anxiety. Have you started any medication yet, like Tamoxifen, that can have those side effects.

    Good luck with your remaining treatments.

  • gb2115
    gb2115 Member Posts: 553
    Options

    Yes yes yes, oh the nausea. They (radiation) kept telling me it was impossible and blaming it on "the flu," which I found inane because one does not have the flu for 6 weeks without a hint of fever. You would think a physician and nurse would know better, I still get upset when I remember that.

    My MO said the nausea was totally from radiation and offered me meds. I had a mild scratchy throat from it too...for 6 weeks but it would improve by the end of the weekend. All went away after finishing rads.

    Hang in there, it will eventually be over.


  • Sara536
    Sara536 Member Posts: 5,937
    Options

    I so don’t get it when doctors deny or fail to mention possible and known side effects. Do they really think that side effects are “all in our heads” or that warning us will trigger a psychosomatic side effect? Once they have disassociated themselves and the treatments they have prescribed from our actual experience then aren’t they making it difficult to treat or provide relief? So much for trust...


  • Kfmama2
    Kfmama2 Member Posts: 8
    Options

    Thanks for the validation JO-5!

    Mymomsgirl, I haven’t started taking any meds yet.

  • kamboka
    kamboka Member Posts: 1,052
    Options

    KFmama2: I had mild nausea about three weeks into radiation. I swore it was caused from rads but the RO said it wasn't. He said it was probably reflux. He prescribed something for the reflux and, sure enough, it stopped the nausea. I haven't had any nausea since and I'm finishing my six weeks tomorrow. Good luck.

  • gb2115
    gb2115 Member Posts: 553
    Options

    I had a lot of nausea too. Ignore them when they say it's impossible. I also had a scratchy throat the entire time, which went away not long after stopping radiation.

  • Bess57
    Bess57 Member Posts: 2
    Options

    I had a very upset stomach and vague nausea and the Radiation Oncologist was vehement that it was not caused by partial breast radiation. When I told her I also had fatigue, she said that was not possible. That type of response from a health care provider is irresponsible.

    I agree with gb2115, ignore them. You know what you are experiencing.

  • Kfmama2
    Kfmama2 Member Posts: 8
    Options

    I asked the nurse (as opposed to the radiation therapist) today and she said the same thing. It can’t possibly be from the radiation. At least the nurse said she would confirm with the doctor and get back to me, but I agree that it’s irresponsible. When I look it up on multiple places online, nausea is listed as a rare but possible side effect. I don’t understand why they are dismissing me. It’s so frustrating

  • SparkleGirl2018
    SparkleGirl2018 Member Posts: 39
    Options

    I did have nausea and an achy body. Radiologist had me take prilosec daily which did help. And drink A LOT of water. I could tell a big difference in how I felt when I really hydrated. I just kept water with me all day and felt better overall. Good luck with your remaining treatments. I am a little over a month out from having 30 treatments and feel so much better now!!

  • mitziandbubba
    mitziandbubba Member Posts: 18
    Options

    I felt all of those things during radiation and it happened after 3 days. The effect was not cumulative, I felt AWFUL. I think I was so glad to escape chemo that I assumed radiation would be easy.

    Drinking TONS of water as SparkleGirl mentioned helped. Also eating a lot of protein. I gained some weight during radiation.

  • Wiggy84
    Wiggy84 Member Posts: 1
    Options

    hiya. I finished my Radiotherapy 8 weeks ago . In the first week i felt a bit nauseated but they told me it was the Tamoxifen that i had started taking.Since finishing the 19 treatments i have been cold . Not just cold but very cold ! Ive gone from someone who was always warm to someone condidering wearing gloves indoors 🙄 im wondering if its somehow linked to the radiotherapy /Tamoxifen ? Has anyone else found this has happened to them ?

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,925
    Options

    Dear Wiggy84,

    Welcome to the BCO community. We are sorry for your breast cancer and the treatment side effects but so glad that you reached out to our members for their support. You may also want to check out the Bottle of Tamoxifen Topic in the Hormonal Therapy Forum for more input around effects of Tamoxifen. Let us know if we can be of assistance in helping you to get connected and to stay active here.

    The Mods

  • Bess57
    Bess57 Member Posts: 2
    Options

    Thank you very much for your reply posts. I really appreciate them. I am so glad to be part of this community. Good luck to all.

  • DorothyB
    DorothyB Member Posts: 143
    Options

    I had nausea from radiation - not severe, but sort of "car sick" feeling. MD Anderson's website says that can be a side effect of radiation but my radiologist said it wasn't.

  • Kfmama2
    Kfmama2 Member Posts: 8
    Options

    I finally talked to my RO. He asked me more about the nausea and I said it happened almost immediately after radiation. He said, “well then I think we have to assume the radiation is causing the nausea.” I’m glad he didn’t dismiss me. He took the time to show me images on the computer to show that my stomach is outside the field of radiation but agreed it could be a possible side effect. I also told him of the “brain fog” I have been having. He says he has heard that before but can’t explain it. Luckily, both of these side effects have been better over the past couple of days.

  • Sara536
    Sara536 Member Posts: 5,937
    Options

    There’s nothing like having your experience validated! A doctor who listens with an open mind builds trust.!

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,939
    Options

    My radiation was late last year. I didn't have nausea, but the RO said the left side whole breast radiation would not harm my heart or lungs, and that it was precisely platted on the computer to miss those organs. I had to see a cardiothoracic surgeon in June for an unrelated matter. I mentioned the radiation (thinking more about the skin, should surgery be necessary), and he said it was good that I'd brought it up because of the heart damage it could cause. When I told him what the RO had said, he just gave me a pitying look and shook his head, gently explaining that there's always SOME damage. Then I had a chest and abdomen CT for another issue (yep, I'm falling apart!), and that showed a little scarring smudge on my left lung, new since the CT I had last year. My oncologist said it was from radiation. So I guess the RO lied through his teeth.

  • gb2115
    gb2115 Member Posts: 553
    Options

    I wonder if the nausea is just due to stress on the body. I mean, it doesn't matter that the radiation beams only hit your breast, your body is still going to mobilize what it needs to, in order to fix the damage. I feel like that could cause a systemic nausea. And if you think about it, nausea isn't necessarily caused by only one organ. It doesn't happen only because something is wrong with your stomach. I get it from headaches, inner ear things like car sickness, and stress--morning sickness during pregnancy, medications, etc. So it's not like it will only happen during radiation if a specific body part is radiated. Anyway, I always felt that was what caused it. I have no scientific proof of any of this, it's just something I've thought about a lot. I could be wrong though, who knows.

    I had a scratchy throat for most of radiation as well, and it caused dry gums and dry eyes. The MO, the dentist, and the eye doctor all said that radiation "scatter" is real, and can cause side effects. For my nausea, the radiation oncologist and the nurse suggested that I had the flu. When I pointed out that one doesn't have the flu for 6 weeks with no other symptoms like a fever, with symptom improvement over the weekend only to start back over on Monday afternoon (several hours after treatment), they really couldn't say much. They stuck by their flu theory and I'm still disappointed by it. You would think an RN and MD would know better.

  • Levron
    Levron Member Posts: 7
    Options

    I had 30 rads & throughout rad treatments I felt great! The last few rads I was burning a bit (like a bad sun-burn) but tolerable, not much pain, small amount of fatigue & overall at rad completion I felt wonderful. THEN a few weeks after rad was done BOTH my arms developed EXTREME pain! I could not sleep & was screaming in pain a lot! THE WORST PAIN EVER! Dr diagnosed it as "neuropathy". I had surgery to cut nerves in both wrists, instantly the pain stopped & I mended well with no further problems. My point is no one told me neuropathy could be a possible side effect of rad. When I asked rad Dr why this isn't disclosed he said if his patients knew all the POSSIBLE side effects they would never agree to be treated with rad.

  • giggs
    giggs Member Posts: 19
    Options

    I'm so sorry we've all been through this. I had radiation this summer. I've had a hard time emotionally because people can't "see" the effects of radiation and think I'm fine. Emotionally radiation was so much harder than I thought it would be, and I'm still dealing with that. I had no immediate physical SE from radiation. A couple months ago I started having skin pain. No breakouts, nothing you could see, just nerve pain. All the time. RO nurse told me that it's common. Well, I wasn't told about it. I went to a skin care class at a cancer wellness house and purchased the products recommended, safe for BC, and they did help if I used them all the time, all day. It still comes and goes.

  • Kfmama2
    Kfmama2 Member Posts: 8
    Options

    Giggs, it’s been difficult for me, too. I feel guilty complaining because it’s such an easy treatment compared to others. There is something about lying on a table, exposed, unable to move or speak (due to the snorkel tube in my mouth for breath holds), and being poked and prodded, that is emotionally difficult. Luckily the initial nausea went away after a few treatments and never came back. Instead, the itching and fatigue have set in. The fatigue is making me feel easily winded. I’m in good shape, but now even walking the dog feels like a trek. Only 3 treatments left

  • Sara536
    Sara536 Member Posts: 5,937
    Options

    The talk about radiation scatter has me wondering why my left chest and thyroid were not covered when my right chest was treated with radiation. Dentists cover us when taking dental x-rays. Are RO’s less careful for some reason? Has anyone here been covered with the kind of “lead blankets” used by dentists?

  • Nargaret
    Nargaret Member Posts: 1
    Options

    I had my radiation in May. You know how you know you were having side effects from the radiation even though they tell you " you should not be having any"? When they start going away. It's been 6 months for me and I am feeling like I am just now getting some of my energy and stamina back. I look back and think about how tired I was! If I went to the store after work I would have to hang on to the cart for support and drag myself home to the couch. I was not on Letrozol during radiation and I was have killer hot flashes, sun and heat sensitivity, depression, fatigue and but most especially tiredness. I really feel that all of those things have subsided. So why do "they" not want to acknowledge us when we do ?
    It makes you feel like you are going crazy and so unsupported, adding one more unpleasant thing about the process of trying to survive.

    My opinion is YES you will most likely have side effects from having live radio active material put in your body, I don't see how you could not. We are all different and it will effect each of us differently. I am grateful after 6 months that some of my issues are subsiding and hope they continue to do so.

    To 'they" I hope they start listening and acknowledging their patients and what they are feeling is real and start supporting them though it instead of denying they exist.


  • a1b2c3
    a1b2c3 Member Posts: 3
    Options

    Hello,

    I am new to this site. I was diagnosed with DCIS with microinvasion and had a lumpectomy. Advised to have whole breast radiation on left side for three weeks. I am very wary of the assurances from the RO that there are minimal side effects and the risks to heart and lungs are too small to be meaningful given modern techniques. I am also told that the irradiated breast looks normal afterward except for possibly some denser tissue and might be "more pert' than the other side. I do not have any information from anyone who has gone through this as to their experience with side effects or the cosmetic effects. I did read a few testimonials I found online from women saying that the irradiated breast did not normally gain weight if they did like their other breast, and that there was significant shrinkage and some women said they became more "lopsided" as time passed. I do not feel I can trust what the RO says as there is such heavy pressure to do radiation. I would appreciate any information, especially from women a longer time out from the treatment. Thanks to everyone.

  • ingerp
    ingerp Member Posts: 1,514
    Options

    Have you asked how radiation affects your probability of recurrence? When I heard it would cut mine in half it was an easy decision.

  • Mymomsgirl
    Mymomsgirl Member Posts: 95
    Options

    A1b2c3 I finished radiation last February. I had IORT during surgery because I was having some reconstruction done at the same time due to location. My radiated breast did shrink and has a little bit different texture that the other. In fact it shrunk more than my PS anticipated so I'm going in to have a fat necrosis removed where my tumor was and getting things evened out with both sides. Most states have in place where you can get things fixed after going through treatment. Not saying anyone wants another surgery, but it is good information to have

    I know size and shape are a concern, but I also had my cancer on the left side and the heart and lung being in the field is a valid concern. Are you doing anything with taking a deep breath and holding it during your treatment. That is what I did, for most holding your breath pushes things out of the way. My advice is do some research and ask questions. If your RO dismisses your questions then they might not be the right one for you. Big hugs and best wishes coming your way.

  • DorothyB
    DorothyB Member Posts: 143
    Options

    A1b2c3 - my cancer was in the left breast - on the top of the breast kind of midway between the nipple and the upper chest wall. Tumor size was 5 cm and removed with mostly 5 mm margins.

    The first radiologist I visited - I loved her, but she did not do the breath holding to protect the heart. She said it didn't really help even though I found published study that said it helped a lot.

    So, I went with the second radiologist. They do breath holding. Some use a snorkel like thing. My MD Anderson facility did not. They did somehow know how my breath holding was doing. A couple of times they would tell me to relax a little, etc.

    Because I had lymphovascular invasion, the radiologist said I needed whole breast radiation. Because of the location of my tumor, they were able to angle the radiation so that the rays went in near the center of my body and out under my arm and then they moved the machine and did the opposite. This helped to protect my lungs and heart also.

    Some people the radiation exits more out the back. You will need to ask them so you can be sure to lubricate that area also.

    I was also told that it would be the same size or very slightly smaller, but probably perkier afterwards.

    I finished radiation at the end of July. I am still dealing with seroma issues from the surgery, but it appears that my breasts will be the same size and the "more perky" isn't obvious when I wear a bra. I am about a C or D cup so always wear a bra.


  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,080
    Options

    A1b - I agree - if you can't get your questions answered to your satisfaction, you need to find another doc. They are valid questions.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,925
    Options

    Dear a1b2c3,

    Welcome to the BCO community. We are glad that you reached out with your concerns. As you can see there is a good deal of support and information readily shared here by our members. We hope that it will be helpful to you and that you will stay active and connected. Please let us know if there is any help we can provide.

    The Mods

  • gb2115
    gb2115 Member Posts: 553
    Options

    I can't say radiation changed size or shape...there was swelling for awhile but it faded. The lumpectomy definitely changed it though...it is what it is...