Sep 6, 2009 03:27PM j414 wrote:
Thank you - I really thought the system/process through. I didn't want to worry about details once the treatment started.
The xeroform kept my breast cooler. Before I started using them I would slather on a lot of lotion (b/f acquafor I was using Remedy Medline (doctor recommend for day use b/c it's not sticky like acquafor) but it created a paste effect and my t-shirt would stick to my breast- basically suffocating my skin and drying up the lotion. The xeroforms, on the other hand, are paper thin (they are meant to be a "second skin"), saturated in burn jelly (I just add acquafor in for extra hydration) and are specifically designed for burns (it's the dressing that hospitals use for skin grafts and burn wound care - see the link at the bottom of the page). When I first told my radiologist that I was going to start using them (my friend is a dermatologist and he suggested it), she said it was probably overkill. Maybe she was right, but I don't think I would have had the same excellent result without them. I used two 5 x 9 - I would put them (and the cortizone and acquafor) on immediately after my treatment, take it off for a couple of hours when I get home from work, put it back on b/f bed and remove it in the morning (I received radiation b/f going to the office in the morning). I used two new bandages each day and put one on the top of my breast, the other on the bottom (covering the crease under my breast, which tends to be a sore spot for most women). Each bandage cost around $2.00 from a pharmacy in my neighborhood, but they are available for much less on the web (see link at bottom of the page). As an aside, my three side effects were skin breakdown (dry/itching/peeling skin/sandpaper texture), "warm" breast and swollen breast. My doctor said she would only temporarily stop treatments for skin breakdown (peeling, blistering), so I was really focused on keeping my skin intact. My breast was warm, and still is (just a little bit), but that only bothered me after the third or fourth week and now it doesn't bother me at all. For warm breast I used an ice pack (half ice, half water, always on my shirt (never on my skin)) on and off throughout the day or when I got home at night. Between the xeroform/acquafor lubrication and the cooling ice pack, I felt fine. I picked up a great ice pack from Duane Reade - large and cotton - covered my whole breast (kept one in my apartment and at my office). The most annoying side effect was the swelling. I am a small B cup and I swelled to a large "C". It wasn't painful, it just felt heavy, like I was carrying a water balloon in my chest. It would subside slightly over the weekend, and then resume on Mondays. I started limiting my sodium intake two weeks into treatment and would take a couple of alleves (or any anti-inflammatory will work) when it was worse than usual. I'm two weeks out and the swelling is just about gone and my skin is only slightly tinted and it's really soft again. Also, I think the constant lubrication helped fade my lumpectomy and sentinel node scar. My lumpectomy scar went from an angry red line to a very thin white line and the sentinel node is white with a very slight tint of red outline outlining the white. Overall, it looks significantly better than I thought it would at this point. My best advice is to plan everything out, which you are doing, so you are already ahead.
- - Don't use under-wire bras - opt for t-shirts or very soft cotton/no underwire(e.g. fruit of the loom) bras in a bigger size (larger size for the swelling)
- - use a really mild unscented soap on the area being radiated (e.g. dove), gently apply the soap (never rub) and pat dry
- - no sun exposure at all to the area. If you are going to be outside during the day, triple layer the area. On an overcast day I spent a couple of hours outside with just the xeroform and a cotton t-shirt and I definitely felt a burn after wards.
- - try to get some extra sleep. Overall, Ididn't feel fatigued, but I was slightly more tired at the end of the day and getting to bed an hour earlier really helped with that. I also felt very achy (neck, upper back, arms) - like I had the flu - for the first week of treatment. I wasn't expecting it, so I was a bit panicked at first. I asked my doctor about it and she said it was probably stress, but I didn't feel stressed and I asked other women in the waiting room and they had the same experience for the first couple of days, so I'm not sure. I took some alleve and it eventually subsided after the first week.
- - Constant lubrication
On a scale of 1 to 10, (1 being completely painless, 10 being the most pain possible), I would rate radiation at a 3. I never had any pain, just some discomfort. You will be okay and the six weeks will go by very fast. Best, j.
Article re: use of xeroform for skin grafts
Links to buy the 5x9 xeroforms.