My first thought before starting radiation therapy to treat my breast cancer was “how can I allow my body to be bombarded with radiation?” The word radiation glowed luminous green in my head, and although I hoped that it would kill any remaining rogue cancer cells, I knew that certain radiation kills people. I’ve seen the extreme photos of Hiroshima where everything turned to ash. These thoughts crowded my head but I suppressed them.
I didn’t know how I’d cope with a daily schedule of turning up every single day, five days a week for five weeks, while being pleasant to everyone… everyday. The effects of the chemotherapy hadn’t worn off and I still felt awful. What I came to realize during those weeks is that besides the most obvious gain – a better chance at beating my cancer – there were unexpected bonuses that I could take home from the whole experience.
For my cancer type, radiation therapy increases my overall chance of survival by about 10%. My radiation oncologist spent plenty of time in our consultation showing me the results of studies for my type of breast cancer. Perfect! This helped me feel so much better. For my cancer, radiation therapy has better outcomes than the chemotherapy I’d just finished. Since radiation therapy uses light particles, I tried to think of my treatment as light therapy. Light as in life, and NOT going up to the heavenly light!