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Top 5 Radiation Tips

Top 5 Radiation Tips

Hi, I'm Dr. Katie Deming. In this video I'm going to talk about the five things you can do to get ready for breast cancer radiation. 

Five Ways to Prepare for Breast Cancer Radiation

1. Skin Cream

The first thing is that you're going to need a cream to put on your skin during radiation, and this is going to depend on what your doctor recommends, but  my recommendation would be one that has calendula in it. Calendula decreases the risk of burning and peeling related to radiation. My favorite cream, as everybody knows, is Miaderm. It's what I actually make my patients use, because I truly have seen a difference before and after using Miaderm for my own patients. That is the one cream that I require my patients to use during radiation. It really does make that big of a difference. So that's number one, you need a cream. 

2. Mild Soap 

Number two is that your doctor will often tell you to use a mild body wash. This could be just a regular soap. Typically we want something without perfumes or fragrance. Ivory or Dove are both great options. You can get them in a bar, and that's fine. But the truth is, most body washes are okay unless you're using something that's highly fragranced or scented, that may be irritating. But if you're unsure, Dove or Ivory are great options. Your doctor also may have options that they recommend. So, that's for cleansing your skin. And the truth is that you don't need to do anything different in terms of your washing routine. But you just want to make sure that you keep your skin clean and dry. So showering once a day, or bathing and just lathering up the soap on your hand and kind of patting In the area, and then washing it with water. You don't need to aggressively wash the area but just having something gentle that'll wash the skin is perfect for that.

3. Exercise 

Next is exercise. There are studies that show women who exercise during radiation have less fatigue, so it makes them feel less tired, and it makes the radiation work better. I always have my patients create an exercise plan before they start radiation, so they can figure out a way to incorporate exercise in their routine. Now, exercise does not need to be vigorous. It can be just walking, but the amount of time that is recommended is 150 minutes throughout the week. So typically that breaks down into like 30 minutes, five days a week. Or you could break it down to do 20 minutes a day, seven days a week, however you want. It doesn't matter. But the idea is that you want to have some kind of movement for 150 minutes, every week during radiation. One thing that I get asked a lot from my patients is, “Am I limited in terms of exercise during radiation?” Usually the answer is no, but you would want to check with your doctor. So typically, after surgery, your surgeon has given you limitations. And they say that you can't learn lift over five or 10 pounds for so many weeks. But once that limitation is lifted during radiation, there really should be no limitations. And whatever you did before for exercise, if you lifted weights, if you do cardio, if you do yoga, any of those things should be fine. There really should be no reason for restriction unless your doctor has told you otherwise. 

4. Clothing

The fourth thing is clothing. So it is important to think about what you're going to wear in terms of clothing on the sensitive skin from radiation. So usually for the first three weeks, you're not going to notice much difference. It doesn't make that much of a difference with what you wear. But once you get into about the third week, the skin will be red like a sunburn, and it'll be very sensitive and tender. You're going to be more aware of fabrics against your skin. Most of you know that I have a line of bras designed for women receiving radiation, because I was frustrated there was nothing that was soft enough for my patients to wear. So if you're interested in that, you can check out the links below. That's called MAKEMERRY. But in general, what you're looking for are fabrics that are soft and breathable without stitching that touches the skin. So if you're not going to buy something new, you can take a T shirt and flip it inside out so that the seams are away from the skin, and put your bra over it. That's one way to get a nice kind of soft a layer of fabric against your skin, you can take camisoles and put them inside out. Our bras are designed with all the seams sewn between the layers so that there's none of that stitching and they feel really soft. But just really the idea is trying to find something that feels wonderful and soft against your skin. 

5. Support

The last thing is support. You maybe have gone through chemo, maybe it's just been surgery, but whatever you've gone through up until this point, you've had people who have offered to help and support you. The one thing is sometimes people downplay radiation. They're like, “Oh, it's just a daily treatment, it's no big deal, I'm going to be fine.”  And that may be true, but if you've had chemo, you're actually still going to be tired when you're having radiation because all of this is cumulative. And you've been through so much already. So prepare your support system that you are going to need help during radiation. Typically I tell people, yes you can work during treatment. You're going to need a little bit of time to figure out your treatment into your day. Usually appointments for radiation are about 15 minutes, but you're in the appointment maybe 30 minutes. So it's usually about two hours out of your day between leaving work, driving to the clinic, having your treatment, and leaving again. So you're going to need a little bit of time off preparing your work for that, and then also your support system so that you know your family knows that you're going to be tired when you get home and making dinner and cleaning up after dinner. Those are things that you're going to need help with. So definitely kind of prepare your support system that you are going to need some help. One common question that I get is about rides. Can you drive yourself to and from radiation for breast cancer? And the answer is yes, you are going to feel fine. You should be able to drive yourself, but if you have friends that you like and you'd like to spend time with them, and they're offering to drive you, that's a wonderful way to let your friends help and get some time together, but it's not necessary. So you can absolutely drive yourself, but if there are people in your support network that wants to drive you, it can be a lovely way to connect with them during your treatment.


Those are the five things that I think are really important to get yourself ready. Please let me know if this video was helpful. And please like it below. Please put in the comments if you found this helpful and any other information that you'd like to know. I really do want to make videos that are helpful for you. As always, please subscribe and hit the bell down below so that you're notified whenever I post a new video. Thanks so much and good luck with your treatment.

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