Personal Care During Radiation Therapy
Be Sure to Rest
Radiation therapy can cause feelings of fatigue. When preparing for radiosurgery, it is important to get as much rest as possible. Inadequate sleep or exhaustion from too much physical activity can increase fatigue levels during, and after, treatment. Whenever possible, ask for help from friends and family during treatment, whether it be running errands, arranging meals, or simply driving you to and from treatment.
Listen to Your Doctor
Your doctor will inform you about possible side effects from treatment and what to do if you experience any of those symptoms. For instance, you may develop a fever of 101° or higher, in which case you will want to contact your doctor. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s orders when it comes to caring for yourself during treatment.
Again, maintaining your energy levels will be crucial to your overall health and your body’s response to treatment. Work with a nutritionist, doctor, or nurse to create a diet plan to ensure you are getting the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need. Do not attempt to lose weight during radiation therapy; you will need more calories to effectively fight your cancer and help your treatment be as effective as possible.
Care for Skin Exposed to Radiation
In some cases, the skin area that is exposed to radiation during treatment may become red, sensitive, or tender, much like a sunburn. Again, listen to your doctor and nurses when it comes to caring for your skin. Basic care for exposed skin may include:
- Clean the exposed area every day with warm water and a mild soap. Speak with your nurse about recommended soaps to use.
- Avoid lotions, perfumes, powders, deodorants, and other topical materials unless they have been approved by your doctor or nurse. This includes any products that contain alcohol.
- Avoid treating the exposed skin with heat and ice, including heating pads and gel packs.
- Avoid sun exposure. If you are going to be outside, be sure to wear a hat or clothing to protect your skin. After treatment, always use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Feelings of anxiety, stress, hopelessness, and depression are common emotional states when fighting cancer. While these feelings are common, it is important to get the help you need and support from those closest to you. Find someone you can confide in: a close friend, family member, doctor, or mental health professional. Support groups can easily be found in just about any area; your doctor or nurse may also be aware of support groups and organizations near you. The internet is also a great way to find others and connect or support one another.