Radiation Treatments and Changes in My Body

Once I was diagnosed with cervical cancer my doctor recommended radiation and chemotherapy to have a chance to  beat the cancer. Here is some information on radiation, along with my personal experience to the subsequent changes in my body.

Radiation Therapy

Internal and/or External Radiation is a frequent treatment option for many cancers. It uses high energy ray to destroy the cancer cells. Depending on the kind of cancer and where you received the radiation you will have different side effects. Some side effects take longer than others to show or to go away if they do.

The radiation given to me for the cervix was externally and internally. Doctors tattoo the part of your body where the radiation rays will be given to be precise to hit the tumor and/or cancer cells inside your body. Even though it's precise, there are other organs nearby that can be affected by the radiation treatment.


Changes in the Body
Cervical cancer patients who receive external and/or internal radiation therapy may have diarrhea and frequent, uncomfortable urination. It may also affect the gastrointestinal tract. For me I had intestinal bleeding for a long time and depending on what I used to eat, it aggravated the situation. Due to this, the doctor recommended a  colonoscopy to make sure everything was OK and I continue to have them. I loved and still  love Mexican food, but I know that when I eat it, there are consequences to pay. So adios, Senor Burrito! :(

With external radiation it is common to lose hair in the treated area and the skin may be permanent darken or bronze.  Lucky me, no more shaving (that part I loved).

I also had to deal with vaginal atrophy or shrinkage of the vagina and had to use vaginal dilators. Not fun at all while trying to reconnect with your partner. Then if that was not enough, I had to deal with the big "M."  Yes, early Menopause. OK you might be saying lucky me no more periods, but putting up with the hot flashes, the mood swings, I didn't particularly feel that lucky.

After three years of having these treatments, I thought I was done with all the secondary effects, but little did I know, I was not done.  As most of you know I have been working out vigorously including doing Spinning.  So out of nowhere I starting having vaginal bleeding which freaked me out since I have not bled in all these years.  I thought the worse and ran to my doctor.  Apparently radiation treatments thins the cervical lining and because of  the  rough motion against the bike seat, it irritates some of the area making it bleed.  So from time to time I experience vaginal bleeding.  Knowing that this is OK as per my doctor gives me peace of mind, but there is always that fear that sticks its head out every time I see the blood. 

The New You

These are some of the secondary effects I experienced from the treatments, but everyone is different and other patients may experience these and/or many others.  The scars will always be there either physically or emotionally and it takes awhile to come back and reinvent yourself. It takes time to find the new you and let go of the old one.  I have to remind myself every now and then how thankful I am that I'm still here and be a work in progress.



"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." ~ Arnold Bennet



Editor's Note: I wanted to take this opportunity and extend my very best wishes to Robin Roberts of Good Morning America on her recent diagnosis of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) as a consequence to her treatments she received to beat breast cancer in 2007. I met Robin briefly last year when Tamika and Friends was invited to be part of the Good Morning America VIP studio audience. She is a very lovely lady and I join the thousands of people who are praying for her recovery.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for letting me know what radiation can do to us. Radiation Therapy

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  2. Thank you Lisa for reading and commenting. I'm glad my post was informational to you. Please visit back soon. Thanks again. xo Patti

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  3. Yashoda Hospital justifies the leading position that it enjoys in the country as the first cancer center in Asia to acquire RapidArc radiation technology and is one of the few hospitals across the world to have completed 5000 RapidArc treatments.

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