Eric-K-Kidney

Six tips that helped me through radiation treatment

Eric K. was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. He completed radiation treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Phoenix. Any radiation treatment plan can create some hurdles, so Eric is sharing his six tips that helped him during his round of treatments.

  1. Schedule appointments at the start or end of your day when possible. While radiation can sometimes mean daily visits to your medical facility for a few weeks, the actual time being treated is usually measured in mere minutes per day. Scheduling yourself as early in the morning as possible or as late in the afternoon means you can still have plenty of time to complete other routine tasks, have a productive day and maintain some normalcy.
  2. Give yourself an after-treatment treat. What did that look like for me? I love food, and good nutrition can make a world of difference in your body's ability to heal, so every day, I planned to have a different style of cuisine after my treatment and built that into my calendar. One day might be pancakes and bacon, the next would be an early lunch of Chinese fare. While every one of my food choices may not have been optimal from a "healthy" eating standpoint, making sure my caloric intake remained sufficient kept my stomach happy and kept me in a better frame of mind.
  3. Find a treatment mentor. By befriending someone who’s farther along in the cancer journey than you are, you can both offer support and get to see what success looks like. I watched a fellow patient ring the bell during my time in radiation and knew my turn to celebrate was also coming. Seeing their success was a motivator even on days I didn't feel great. When my day finally arrived, patients and staff alike stopped what they were doing to join in my brief, but meaningful, celebratory bell ringing.
  4. Stay connected with your support system. Identify those in your life who are closest, and make an effort to speak to them daily. If distance is an issue, use FaceTime or other video technology to make those miles seem non-existent. Most importantly, be honest with them about how you feel that day. We all too often want to say everything is fine, even when we and they know it's not. Having a sounding board to talk (honestly) about how we’re feeling not only lets our closest allies help carry our burden, but it often allows multiple minds to brainstorm ways to help.
  5. Move your body. You don't have to hit the gym in preparation for the next Olympic Games, but implementing some cardio helps your body maintain a fitness baseline, and when the day is done, you may sleep better as well. Staying in decent shape may help support your immune system. (Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any fitness program.)
  6. Be honest about side effects. If radiation is causing you nausea or affecting your appetite, don't keep it to yourself! Many patients silently battle side effects that can be curbed by simply letting your medical staff know about them. When nausea set in during my treatments, my doctor said "no problem," and within minutes, I was taking a daily anti-nausea pill that worked wonders. Your care team can't help you with issues they don’t know about. Staying comfortable during treatment is a priority, so keep the lines of communication open with your care team.