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Topic: Diabetes and Radiation

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During, and After —

What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Sep 10, 2008 09:55PM

sweetlady2 wrote:

I finished my chemotherapy (Taxotere and Cytoxan 6 rounds) and my radiation. Hooray! My last radiation treatment was a week and a half ago. I did some research and asked for a shorter, higher dose three week course of radiation. They call it the Canadian Protocol. They said that I had very good results and fewer than average side effects.

I called Minimed about using the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) while undergoing radiation therapy. The continuous glucose monitor is a fairly new device for people with type I diabetes. It automatically checks your glucose levels every five minutes and sends you signals if your glucose is too high or too low.

Apparently no one has asked the manufacturer (Minimed) about this before so I guess I was test subject #1. They have had people with insulin pumps get radiation therapy but not anyone with a pump and a CGM.  

The transmitter is very sensitve to radiation, so I had to remove it off before each dose of radiation. I would disconnect my pump and my CGM transmitter in the car when I parked outside the facility where I got the radiation. ( I would hide it under my chemotherapy wig in the front seat of the car.) It did mean unzipping my pants in the front seat of the car, but early in the morning, there were not a lot of people around.

We were not sure about the sensitivity of the implanted sensor to radiation. Initially, I put the sensor in my thigh to keep it far away from the radiation field. I managed to get a rather impressive bruise when I hit a large blood vessel in my thigh. After some trouble with the insertions of the CGM in the thigh, I called Minimed again and ended up using my lower abdomen. The radiation people put a lead shield over the sensor. The shield might not be necessary, but we were playing it safe since no one has done this before.

After I got the radiation each morning, I would go back to the car, and reconnect everything. You have to re-start and recalibrate the CGM each time after you disconnect the transmitter.  This meant that I would lose data for a couple of hours after each treatment. .

The sensors seemed to work well except for when they pulled out from the multiple times I had to remove the tape. I used more insulin during the radiation theapy. I am not sure of this, but it seemed that I needed more basal and bolus insulin in the morning (I got my radiation at 7:30am) and less in the afternoon. the variations in insulin use were not as dramatic as the variations I experienced when I was on the chemotherapy.

Now that I am finished with the main part of my treatment for the breast cancer, I have to take a hormone pill daily for five years. It is an aromatase inhibitor. I got through menopause without any hot flashes. This medication reduces estrogen levels even lower than menopause, so I am now  finally having the joy of hot the hot flashes that I never had during menopause. Actually they are not so bad. I just keep my office cool and wear cotton. My insulin requirements are going down. They are still higher than before I started treatment, but I am hoping that they will be back to baseline in a few weeks once my body is adjusted to the end of the radiation treatment.

If anyone else has breast cancer and takes insulin, please contact me.  


Dx 2/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 11, 2008 10:44AM Shirlann wrote:

Hi Carol, what an interesting story you have!  My husband is a type II and his best friend has a pump and all the stuff you speak so eloquently about.

I am not a diabetic, but I notice with my husband, and his friend, that the glucose goes way up when they are under stress, and for heaven's sake, this is stress.  So that could be the explanation.

When Ralph, our friend, was president of our Motorhome Club, his wife told me that just before he was to precide over the meetings, his blood sugar would go as high as 600.  Shocking, and he is extremely vigilant.

So bless your heart for being so upbeat and doing all this crap that these two diseases require, but this life is worth it, and you have my admiration, completely.

More women will be along, please know you are so very welcome on this site.

Gentle hugs, Shirlann 

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Aug 13, 2019 10:20PM Roxannescott wrote:

hi! I am a type one too!!! Diagnosed with breast cancer... I did 4 rounds of AC chemo and 8 of Taxol chemo.... I'm scared to do radiation... I'm worried about long term effects and lung infection....

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Aug 5, 2021 01:41AM PurplePolly wrote:

Just adding my experience, since there's not a whole lot of info on the internet regarding diabetes and breast cancer... I'm 42, Type 1 diabetic for 33 years, pre-menopausal, diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in May 2021... I was so afraid I would catch Covid in 2020, and so hopeful once 2021 came around! Turns out it's just as crappy, if not worse, than 2020!! :P

I started chemo May 26. 4 AC treatments the first 8 weeks.. Started losing my hair June 8 and by June 14 I had my husband shave what was left off. I've never even had a short haircut in my life. Thank God for Amazon wigs and tons of tips on YouTube! Just had my 3rd (of 12) weekly Taxol treatments. I've had to take a steroid the day before and day of the Taxol treatments, which causes my blood sugars to climb to 300-400+ for the following 2 days. My endocrinologist just prescribed a shot of NPH on those days only, in addition to my regular pump Novalog. We'll see if it helps! I am so very thankful for CGM/pump technology!! But I have had to get my CGM transmitter replaced 3 times in the past 2 months, which is really annoying and concerning with all this cancer stuff going on! I'm currently on the Medtronic 670g pump and Guardian 3 CGM but my warranty is up in November and I'm really hoping at that time to switch to the Tandem T:slim x2 pump and Dexcom CGM. I've heard really good things about both and my endo recommends it over Medtronic.

I've had very few side effects from the chemo and I'm so blessed and thankful for that! Really just the hair loss and some minor changes to my mouth/sense of taste. I actually can't feel the lump anymore! I have a mid-chemo appointment with my surgeon tomorrow. I expect she will want to schedule a new mammogram/ultrasound/MRI. Not sure if the lumpectomy will be scheduled yet but most likely it will be in late fall.

Also not sure yet if I'll need radiation but I'm guessing I will. I'm pretty sure I can keep my pump and CGM on for that, just have it all covered with a lead shield. So far, throughout this whole process, I've only had to remove it all for the MRI.

I'll try to update this as I go, so any other diabetics looking for answers can get an idea of what to expect. I was really hoping this would be a whole forum, myself, instead of a handful of posts! LOL.. But thank you Carol (sweetlady2) for starting this! Happy I hope you're doing well still after all this time! <3

Dx 5/10/2021, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 5/25/2021 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery Lumpectomy: Right
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Aug 5, 2021 04:04AM Moderators wrote:

PurplePolly welcome to our Community, and thank you for sharing your experience with diabetes and breast cancer. This is an old thread but your post has bumped it to the active topics, so hopefully you'll get answers and support from other members too. You may want to check out also the following forum, where you'll meet others who have breast cancer but also have another health diagnosis/comorbidity such as diabetes, here: Breast Cancer with Another Diagnosis or Comorbidity

Please let us know if we can help in any way. We're glad you found us, and appreciate your participation.


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