Getting through radiotherapy
July 21, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe

How can we make radiotherapy easier?

In a few weeks my mother will start post-surgery radiotherapy on the remnants of a low grade glioma on the surface of her brain. I live in another country (not the US). She is not in America either, and where she lives medical facilities are relatively poor and medical support groups non-existent. She has good care from my family, and we trust her doctors, but living miles away as I do, I want to help however I can.

1. How can my family make the month-long radiotherapy easier for her? It's presently not decided if she'll have intensive bursts or frequent low-intensity doses, so if there is a difference, answers either way would help. My understanding is that they'll probably use a focused single beam of radiation, but this is yet to be fully decided.

2. What useful supplies/ pleasant things can I send her? I was thinking a mild hypoallergenic shampoo, but surely there must be more. She is lactose intolerant, in case that affects recommendations, and cares about looking good.

3. If you or anyone in your family has been through this, are there any web resources you found particularly useful?

4. Any other suggestions or tips from your experience would be great.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
When a friend of mine did radiotherapy, the biggest deal was that she was just _exhausted_ all the time. She was so tired. If your mother is responsible for a lot of housework, or really any housework, you can probably best help by making sure there is someone else who can do it for her.
posted by KathrynT at 7:24 PM on July 21, 2012

Penaten cream. This helped prevent my father from ever needing to miss a treatment due to burned skin, a big problem with older patients. It made such a difference for him, the clinic made it available to other patients.
posted by Michele in California at 9:12 PM on July 21, 2012

My radiotherapy is wrapping up and one thing I learned from this experience is that
the effects can vary greatly depending on the individual and the site to be radiated.
However some effects are more universal, these include:
- Skin irritation at the site receiving the radiation. Similar to a mild to moderate sunburn.
- Hair thinning/loss at the site.
- Tiredness. Though according to my nurse, the more active you are the less this is as an issue. I never really felt tired during my therapy, but I'm also quite active.

Also, there are tissues that are more susceptible to radiation, examples include the mouth, glands, lymph nodes, etc, and changes may occur with those. Unfortunately I have no idea about the head area since my treatment was the neck area.

Good luck to your mother.
posted by puppysocket at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2012

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