What to Expect During Your Radiation Treatment

Treatment // December 28, 2015

Radiation – it’s a scary word, and there are plenty of horror stories about its affect on your body.

Going to a radiation treatment for the first time, you might not know what to expect. This post provides some common things people find during their first radiation experience.

Preparing for Radiation Treatment

Before you even go to your radiation appointment, you want to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. A lot of this means taking care of your body in the days leading up to your treatment.

Eat well – Eating the right foods is, of course, a part of staying healthy overall. Your body will be undergoing a lot of stress as it is, and it’s important to make sure you consume the right nutrients to give yourself the best shot at the treatment working. Talk with your doctor or specialist to see if you should follow a particular diet.

Get sleep – One effect of radiation is often fatigue, and you don’t want to add to it by not getting enough rest ahead of time. Especially try to get a solid night’s rest the night before you go in for your treatment.

Ease your mind – Even the thought of radiation can cause psychological distress and cause some people to feel fearful, depressed, helpless, angry, or alone. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health, so try to put your mind at ease ahead of time. Relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation or even yoga can help you stay at peace.

During Radiation Treatment

What you experience during radiation therapy depends on the type of treatment you are receiving.

Internal radiation therapy – Sometimes, it may be necessary to insert a source of radiation in the body, and this can require a brief hospital stay. Anaesthesia is often provided to help reduce pain or discomfort associated with the device. With an internal device, you may also need to take precautions to prevent others from being exposed to the radiation.

External radiation therapy – In this case, a machine will deliver a beam of radiation to the outside of the body. There is no pain, and the procedure is usually pretty quick. The treatments can be up to five times per week, over the course of several weeks, and they last for about a quarter of an hour.

Regardless of which type of radiation treatment you are having, you’ll want to stay in close contact with your oncologist during the treatment period. Make sure he or she knows how you are feeling, and if something seems wrong, don’t hesitate to discuss any problems with them.

After Radiation Treatment

Your doctor will schedule follow-up appointments to see how you are progressing after your radiation treatment.

Be sure to follow your doctor’s directions – including care and diet instructions – to best of your ability. If for some reason you can’t follow a particular direction, contact your doctor to discuss the issue.

If you don’t already have one, it may help to keep a journal during this time, so that you can keep track of how you are feeling.

Also, make sure to obtain a written record of your treatment for your reference in the future. Keep it with your other records so that you have it in case you or someone else should need it for reference.