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Picture of Topic  'Today I am feeling' - managing emotions


Topic 'Today I am feeling' - managing emotions

Share how you are feeling and swap tips for managing stress with other members and the online team

  • 186 conversations

Why is radio so scary?

Started by Anonymous on 04 November 2016 at 08:14

Hi, I've recently finished chemo for breast cancer, and started radiotherapy on Tuesday. I fully expected this to be a breeze after chemo, and all went well with the scan and marking up, I knew exactly what was going to happen. However, it all went horribly wrong in my first treatment immediately as everyone left the room, I was overwhelmed with panic. I felt so exposed and vulnerable and totally alone. I took diazepam for the next 2 - that worked OK on Wednesday, but went wrong again yesterday. I really need to nail this as I have another 12 sessions. The fact that I know my response is irrational is adding to my frustration and distress. I spoke to a lovely guy at Macmillan last night who suggested coming on here, and gave me some ideas, and more importantly some reassurance that I'm not the only one who reacts like this. I'd be really grateful for any advice.

Comments (7)

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Displaying 7 comments

  • From Anonymous
    10 November 2016 at 20:20

    Hi Maria, I've just had my 8th session today. This week has generally gone pretty well, they're trying to keep me on the same machine (some of the others can't do music). The music has worked well, and I get them to tell me when the beams are coming and when the machine is moving closer for the last bit (thankfully it's the machine that moves, not me!). Today wasn't so good because all the machines were delayed and they lost my CD - I've been struggling to sleep due to those other life events that somehow don't give you a break during treatment, so it all went a bit wrong and I got in a tizzy. I've just started to get a bit of redness today, so suspect the cream will be in the fridge at the weekend! Am lining up a honeycomb latte from Costa as my Friday treat tomorrow!

  • Picture of MammaMia
    09 November 2016 at 16:59

    Hi Helen

    How are you? By now you should have had five sessions, by my reckoning - one third of the way through already. Hope you are sticking to your plan to take in your own music.

    Your comment that you shut your eyes during treatment reminded me that I did this during my first sesison,  but got quite a shock when the bed moved - nobody warned me that this was going to happen! I managed to laugh about it afterwards, but it just made me realise that the staff sometimes take so much for granted and don't always explain everything that is going to happen.

    Keep your chin up - and remembr to keep your cream in the fridge! Take care and let me know how you mange the rest of your treatment.


    Maria x

  • From Anonymous
    04 November 2016 at 23:40

    Thanks Maria, Definitely going for the music nice and loud again on Monday, possibly reducing the talking to letting me know how it's going and when I'm nearly done (I find it easier to keep my eyes shut) - I can't hear the music if there's too much talking! It's strange how easily I assumed I had no control over this situation, and it feels great to get at least some back. Good tip about the cream - I already have one side warmer than the other..... 4 down now! Helen x

  • Picture of MammaMia
    04 November 2016 at 19:25

    I'm really pleased to hear that the music helped , plus the additional support you received . 

    Another one over. Well done . 

    One further tip . . . keep your moisturising cream in the fridge. It is simply wonderful when you start to become sore. Very soothing . If you haven't been given any, ask for it next time. 

    Keep focused. It will end soon and you can concentrate on getting well again . 

    Good luck. 


  • From Anonymous
    04 November 2016 at 19:15
    Edited on: 04 November 2016 at 19:16

    Thank you both for your lovely messages. The team only became aware that I was struggling yesterday when my stiff upper lip failed me so dramatically, and one of the radiographers tried to send me off with ideas that might help (although I was so cross with myself that I wasn't especially receptive!). However, I did get as far as taking my own music with me today as she'd suggested, choosing a random collection of tracks that make me happy and remind me of good times. Today, the word was out that I wasn't coping so well, and we were whisked away by a specialist support radiotherapist whose job it is to support people having difficulties just like me (there's 2 of them, so I guess I'm not as special as I thought I was!). It was great. We had a really good discussion about what had happened and options to make it easier. In the end, my partner went in with me and was talked through what was happening while they set me up, they put my music on nice and loud (Dancing Queen was a popular choice!) and talked to me over the loudspeaker as the machine did it's stuff. They let my partner wait for me in the changing room, so I knew she was close by. I was still a bit wobbly at times, but left feeling much more positive about next week because we have a plan and I'm in control of it. I know this is somewhat rambling, but I'm hoping it might help someone else with similar issues - I had no idea that I could get extra support, or that the treatment process could be so easily adapted to meet my needs, and I thought I was being a wuss. I'm so grateful for that extra bit of time I was given today as it will make things a whole lot better for me, my partner and everyone else involved. Oh, and no diazepam today, so all done with a clear head!

  • Picture of MammaMia
    04 November 2016 at 09:32

    Hi Helen

    I understand exactly what you are going through. I finished 15 sessions of radiotherapy on my 60th birthday last November, so remember it well!

    Do they play music in the room? If not, you could ask them to, or perhaps take some of your favourite music with you. I made a note of songs played during each session and used to sing along in my head. The session usually lasted for two or three songs and sometimes I was in the middle of a really good song when the session ended. It helped me so I hope that this may help you too. If not, try to sing a favourite song to yourself when everyone leaves the room.

    Count down the days. You already said that you have 12 sessions left, but this means that you are 3 down. Keep a record of them. I did. I noted who was in the room, which songs were played, how I felt etc. It really helped me, but that's just the way I am.

    Good luck with the rest of your sessions. Be prepared for the tiredness to hit you. If it does, listen to your body and rest when you feel you need to. I used to go off to my bed when I got home after each session. This tiredness lasted for a few weeks after treatment had finished, but it soon passed.

    Thinking of you and hoping you find a way to make the sessions more bearable.

    Maria xx


  • Picture of SusieQ
    From SusieQ  
    04 November 2016 at 09:30
    Edited on: 04 November 2016 at 09:33


    It sounds like it's been a traumatic week for you. You're certainly not alone in experiencing a real sense of panic and vulnerability when having radiotherapy. It can feel very alien to be in a room, where you're on your own, and feeling scared and exposed.

    You were well prepared, and had no previous anxiety about it. However, you've been through a great deal since the cancer experience started, and this perhaps was a complete reality check, and felt like a situation where you had no control.

    I imagine you've already discussed how this has made you feel with the radiotherapy department...the staff are aware that many people find the radiotherapy treatment daunting.They hopefully are taking steps to help you through this. Something they can do, is ensure you get in on time, and try and get you in early sessions, so you haven't along time each day waiting for the treatment...

    It's managing the panicky feelings through the treatment, for the rest of the sessions, - others may have extra tips to get through this. These are a few of mine:-

    * Practice some deep breathing and relaxation exercises (we have some here)...every evening so you get used to the feeling...and use the techniques for the time you're in the waiting room, and during the treatment.

    * Remind yourself you're safe, that everyone treating you is on your side, and that you're not're in control. You're taking charge...doing this to protect your future.

    * Try a simple grounding exercise - a quick one I use, as it's easy to remember is using your five senses...the 5-4-3-2-1 coping mechanism.

    So...Look around you...

    Look around for 5 things you can see

    4 things you can touch

    3 things you can hear

    2 things you can taste

    1 thing you can smell.

    It helps keep you in the 'here and now'...

    * When you're on the treatment table, and in position, think of something that will occupy your mind...counting backwards in '7's...thinking of all the ingredients for a Christmas cake...Girl's names beginning with A, B, C and so on...anything to focus your mind away from the panicky feelings.

    * If the valium helps, then use it (short term only)...other people tell me that simple things like Bach Rescue remedy available in most chemists and health food shops can help too. Getting a good night's sleep, and drinking plenty of water to flood the toxins out helps your semse of control again, as you're helping yourself to get through this.

    * Think of daily rewards - and plan a massive one at the end of treatment (a meal out  a favourite book or film...etc) look forward to beyond that day's treatment, and congratulate yourself on getting another day through it.

    * Can you take someone with you to sit with you in waiting room, and be there when you've finished...someone to keep you occupied and support you.

    Finally, dont be hard on yourself over this - it's something that can happen to any of us, and can be a real surprise, if you're generally not one to panic in situations.

    Do let us know how you get on, and message any time if you'd like to discuss anything, or simply let off steam...

    Warm wishes



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