Cancer stories

Jackie’s story

I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer after a routine mammogram. I had surgery, and my doctor recommended I have radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy) as well.

At my first appointment with the radiation oncologist, she explained what radiotherapy is and described what would happen during each session. She told me the radiation therapist would give me small tattoos to make sure the treatment reached the same area each time. I don’t like tattoos, and it really caught me by surprise that I had to get them. As it turns out, they’re very small and I didn’t feel any pain having them.

At the simulation appointment, the radiation therapists placed me in the position I would be in at each session. They told me I had to keep very still to make sure the treatment was effective. I saw the room where I would be having treatment, which was really helpful as it meant I knew what to expect at my first session.

I had treatment Monday to Friday for six weeks. Some days I had treatment very quickly, and on other days I had to wait a bit longer. I passed the time by reading a book or doing puzzles.

Each session took only a few minutes. I didn’t find it hard to keep still, as the therapists positioned me very well and I was kept in place with a mould shaped like a wedge.

Towards the end of the six weeks, I started to feel very tired and I would sleep a lot. The nurses gave me cream and gel to put on the skin of the treatment area. I used it every day as soon as treatment started and for a short time after it finished. I developed dark marks that looked like burns, but most of them have faded.

This information was last reviewed in December 2017
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