Going from chemo, which is more social, more supportive, to radiation, which is isolative (because of the nature of the treatment: you are in the room alone) can be a difficult transition for some. The isolation of radiation compared to the community of the chemo circle, some say. One survivor called radiation therapy: 10 minutes of hot fun. That's one way of looking at it.
Simulation: What Is It?
In a process called simulation your radiation oncologist will use a diagnostic x-ray machine to determine your treatment field (or where you will receive treatment). This process is scheduled after your initial meeting with the radiation oncologist and takes approximately 45 minutes. The time may vary depending on the number of films you will need and the radiation oncologist's ability to review the multiple films in a timely manner. Our local radiation oncologists view simulation films as a priority so that your wait time is as little as possible.
What You Can Do To Prepare
Schedule an appointment at HCBHP for consultation planning to help you prepare for your appointment with the radiation oncologist. Some questions you might consider:
- What might I expect from treatment, e.g., fatigue, skin changes?
- What measures do you take to minimize side effects of treatment?
- What are the possible short-term and long-term effects of treatment?
- Are there any differences if it is my right breast or my left that is being treated?
- Is there anything I should avoid during treatment; e.g., sun exposure, certain medications?
- Are there any physical limitations with treatment?
Talk to someone who has had a simulation so you will know first hand what to expect. (HCBHP can link you with a buddy. We can also arrange for someone to go with you.) Check out tapes and radiation therapy information in the HCBHP library. Learn as much as you can.
What Happens During Simulation
Even when you have had a buddy tell you their experience, yours is unique. You may experience feelings of fear and anxiety when you first walk into the simulation room. Take a deep breath and remind yourself these people are here to help you and this procedure is important for your eventual healing. One survivor pretended she was the heroine in a sci-fi movie during simulation and treatment. Whatever it takes, call on your personal coping skills. Most who have had chemotherapy first have found radiation therapy to be relatively easy. Your support person can be with you during simulation but they will be asked to leave the room during x-rays.
Questions and Comments
For questions and comments about radiation therapy, please call us at(707) 825-8345.