Saturday, July 5, 2014

What is Radiation?

A lot of people have asked my what exactly radiation therapy is and what it involves. So I thought I'd explain.
First, not all cancer patients receive radiation therapy. It all depends on the type, stage and location of your cancer. I received radiation because of my Triple Negative Diagnosis. Other types of breast cancer have targeted treatments to suppress hormones after chemotherapy and surgery are done. Triple Negative Brest Cancer (TNBC) does not yet have that treatment so many TNBC patients get radiation.

The way it has been explained to me was the surgery gets the tumor, the chemo gets the cancer clumps and the radiation gets the stray cells. There are also different types of radiation.  My type of treatment was external x-ray which felt just like it sounds. It was like getting a really long x-ray each day. I was "zapped" at three different angles for about 20-30 seconds each day. However, after 25 days of repeated exposure to radiation, my skin started to burn.
Two days after end of radiation.
Yes, it hurts but the Silvadene (silver sulfadiazine) helps sooth the burn and it will prevent infection. It is like any major burn, it will blister, peel and I will most likely have a permanent discoloration on the spot.
In comparison to chemo it is not as bad, for me. Depending on the area though it can be worse for others. The chemo completely wiped me out, made me weak, gave me mouth sores, etc. The radiation has given me the burn and made me a little more tired but I can easily carry on with life.

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