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How much of a wait between surgery and radiotherapy?

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by Waterfin, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. My sister has done fabulously well with her chemo. Some nasty side effects, but she is still teaching her exercise class and has had the good news that the chemo has shrunk her lumps (breast and lymph) to practically nothing. She now only needs a lumpectomy and a node removal rather that a mastectomy.
    She hasn't been told how many weeks wait she will have between the op and the three weeks radiotherapy that she will have, so I'm wondering if any kind Tessers can share their (or their friends/relatives) experiences so she can have a better idea of a typical wait.
    Thanks in advance.

     
  2. A friend of mine had readiotherapy after a lumpectomy and lymph node removal, she had to wait until the wounds were completely healed before treatment.
     
  3. Thank you.
     
  4. Mine was two and a half months for a fairly straightforward one, although they lost my paperwork for about a fortnight so it could have been less. But if there was any infection whatsoever or I'd pulled some of the internal stitches it could, I imagine, have be much longer and quite unpredictable. It's got to be truly well-healed and knitted together on the inside, not just looking tidier on the skin.
    It really is no big deal compared with the chemo, just a big drag having to go daily for 2-3 weeks daily (not weekends). The first visit is long and fiddly, getting you 'calibrated' i.e. putting three little permanent dots on your skin to they can position you exactly every time, literally to the millimetre. (there's no 'zapping' involved that time, actually, just diagnostic imagery and visual laserbeams).
    Incidentally I imagined I'd be going right into some sort of long metal tube --fortunately for my claustophobia I was wrong! More like a giant Polo-mint with added green disco-lights
    After that it's a breeze -just a quick liedown on a rather uncomfy metal bed next to a much tamer-looking bit of gadgetry, assistants tweak you minutely to match up the dots, disappear to press the zap button, there's a quick quiet buzz of a few secs (5-10?), a hum as the gadget to the side of you repositions itself, another buzz, and -that's it. Hometime already. Barely 5mins, all in, if that. You don't feel a thing. You wonder if anything's actually been done....
    The major effect is rather sore skin, which starts near the end of the treatment and resembles quite severe sunburn, fades in a few weeks but one thing I would suggest is not to book any holidays abroad immediately! You have to keep strong sun well off it. I wouldn't have found taking an exercise class too hard, if you don't let it the skin rub and get sticky, I did quite strenous gardening until started to get a bit damp and fragile in hottest weather.
    She probably won't mind, but the geometric Picasso effect gets quite impressive for a week or two. I found loosefitting light tops handy, btw, kept skin dryer.
    I felt fairly tired at the time but I think mainly from rather broken nights as I still felt a bit achey from the op as the stitches pull internal tissues a bit tight at first.
    Some I know did drive themselves there right through it. And even got earlymorning appointments so they could get to work later(part-time, probably)... Incidentally, check if the hospital allows free parking during these daily visits -I just had to show my appointment letter on the way out. BTW if you're in England, if not elsewhere, you can apply for an NHS all-prescription free exemption card -includes sleeping pills,hayfever, bunion treatment...it's an ill wind,eh....
    Has your sister got a BreastCare nurse?I found mine had given me a card which actually had an email address on it which was handy as I find using the phone difficult.
    Alternatively I would be surprised if there wasn't some phone number amongst all the leaflets they give you -in fact I think our hospital had a drop-in centre once a week with a specialist nurse on duty where you could go to share any problems.
    Hope it all goes well asap.

     
  5. http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information/treating-breast-cancer/radiotherapy
    there's loads on here ,excellent site.
    Looks like it could be earlier than two months for some. Mine was delayed 2weeks by admin slip-up but I did have an unusual sideffect of the op to get over too.
    You could send a message here to the 'ask the nurse' or look at the forums, maybe
     

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