Nov 30, 2017

My tips on how to get through radiation for breast cancer

Scrolling through my camera roll on my phone the other night when I couldn't sleep, I came cross my pictures from this exact time last year.

The end of November and up until the 24th of December I was having radiation every day.

Everyone handles cancer differently. Even with breast cancer there are so many unique parts about it and treatment is tailored to suit each individual. Even if you have the exact same cancer as someone, their treatment may be different from you.

For me I handled my chemo pretty well. I mean obviously it was a horrible experience but in terms of nausea, I never had to take a single nausea tablet, other than the ones they put in the IV, I never had to go home and top that up.

Of course there were awful side effects, but I was prepared for that and I'm so lucky, I never got neutropenic or got a cold or had any really bad complications.

But radiation was not something I was prepared for at all.

Mainly because it's brushed off very easily by everyone you speak to with 'oh radiations a breeze compared to chemo'

I mean anything is a breeze compared to chemo, root canal surgery everyday would be preferable but that doesn't mean getting root canal is pleasant!

Everyone I spoke to said the same, 'yeah but surely that's easy compared to having the chemo?'

Well yes, but it's not like I'm going to a day spa.
It kind of made me feel like I wasn't really entitled to feel as bad as I did.
And the radiation was probably the worst part of the entire thing for me. 

My radiation area was quite large, it went from my neck down to the top of my stomach. So low it hit my 'sick centre' in my stomach, that glorious part of your body that makes you feel nauseous.

So every single day I felt so sick with nausea. Combining that with just finishing 6 rounds of chemo and the pain from my mastectomy. It was not a fucking breeze.

Having high levels of radiation in your body makes you feel incredibly tired, and as I said before, combined with the cumulative effects of all your other treatment will give you some major fatigue.

And then of course there are the radiation burns.

So I thought I'd write this post, for those of you who are going to have to go through radiation or for those of you who know someone going through it, and for those who maybe struggling whilst going through it.

The chances are you WILL handle it very well, and you won't get the nausea. But I just wanted to put it out there that it isn't a breeze and it's okay, if you are feeling like crap. Be kind to yourself and be proud of yourself when you get to the end of it. Also make sure you reach out to the nurses and ask for some support if you feel it is all getting a bit much, it's important to take care of your mental health just as much during this time.


1. Be kind to yourself and remind others 
Gently remind people that although it is not as hellish as chemo, radiation is still a huge physical strain on your body with a cumulative effect. Especially if you are having it at the end of all your other treatment. Your body will be exhausted and zapping it with radiation everyday is not going to be fun.

2. Rest. Please rest and let your body heal.


Take breaks.


Watch Netflix. Whatever your preferrd method of resting your body, do it and do it often.

3. Get a lift to the hospital
Have someone help drive you to the hospital, even if it's not everyday. Driving home from the hospital after my radiation I would feel like I was going to fall asleep, and I was always nauseous, so that twenty minute journey was horrible.
My sister came with me as much as she could and would usually end up dragging me up the steep hill back to our car!

4. Drink a lot of water
I know everyone says this but it's more important than ever to stay hydrated when going through treatment, and it will help ease the fatigue too. 

5. Moisturize
Moisturize a lot. Use a natural moisturiser with NO nasty ingredients, scents etc. I used coconut oil.

6. The shade is your friend.
Seriously, I know it's obvious but it's quite hard when you live in Australia, so stay covered and in the shade, the last thing you need is extra exposure to sun. 
Even when your treatment is finished, wear high factor sun blocks

7. Eat well
Adding more nutritional food to your diet may help your body heal quicker or deal with your side effects better and give you a bit more energy.

8. Comfort
Go bra-less as often as you can and wear loose fitting clothing

With love, Hayley X

To follow along with what I'm up to and my breast cancer recovery, come and hang with me on instagram!


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