Dealing With The Fear Effect Of Radiation Therapy

Posted on: 12 January 2017

Radiation therapy is one of the most effective ways to deal with various types of cancer. But, radiation therapy can produce side effects. Some of the side effects of radiation therapy are more pronounced depending on the particular area of your body being treated.

There are general side effects inherent to all forms of radiation. Fear of the treatment itself or the potential side effects can be the most debilitating of all. Here are three generalized side effects that you may encounter and how to help deal with the fear surrounding both your treatments and these potential side effects.

Three Primary Side Effects of Radiation Therapy That Cause Fear & Anxiousness

Joint Stiffness & Muscle Aches

Joint stiffness and muscle aches are a frequent problem and will occur most acutely in the parts of the body that are being treated. The achy sensation will be most pronounced in the joint or part of the body where the radiation treatments are directly applied. Having your mobility limited by unnatural aches and pains can be demoralizing, and many people will become fearful they may never return to a normal, active life.

Shortness of Breath

When the focus of the treatments is in your chest, on your back, or between your stomach and shoulders, you may experience a slight difficulty in breathing. This can be especially frightening if you have never had trouble breathing.

Nausea & Vomiting

Feeling nauseous and having a sense you want to vomit when you eat or drink is normal in most all types of radiation therapy. Stomach and abdominal treatments will cause this side effect to be even worse. Feeling nauseous all the time can be an agonizing feeling.

Mentally Dealing With the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Relaxation & Anxiety Prevention

One of the most debilitating aspects of radiation therapy can be in your mind. While it is natural to experience fear and apprehension heading into your treatments, talking about those fears openly can be very helpful in reducing the intensity of the side effects.

Prepare Mentally

The human mind can be a powerful tool when combating pain and sickness. Preparing mentally ahead of time will be an excellent first step in dealing with the side effects commonly associated with cancer treatments. While it may not completely remove the effects totally, being in a good mindset can drastically reduce their intensity.

Talk About Fear

Talk about your treatment journey with others. Your medical team can steer you to support groups full of individuals just like yourself, who had made it through radiation therapy. These will be people you can identify with who have walked this journey before you—people who can share their experience, strength, and hope.

Take Care of Yourself Physically

Fear can manifest itself in many forms. If you are not active, take a few moderate steps to become more active before you start your treatments. Even though you will be tired, try to find ways to motivate yourself to do at least some limited activity while you are undergoing therapy. Speak with your physician beforehand, getting his or her clearance.

The idea is if you feel better, the dramatic feelings of fear will not be as paralyzing. Maintaining a healthy diet is essential because if your body becomes weakened, even slightly from poor nutrition, that can trigger your mind's imagery of how bad you are going to feel or actually do feel. Stick to a healthy diet, and do not become sedentary during your treatment phase.

Stick to all dietary suggestions of your doctor, do not skip meals no matter how bad you might feel, and eat healthy foods. This will allow your mind to work at its fullest capacity so you can deal with your side effects calmly and rationally.

Accepting that you are going to experience side effects from radiation treatments is essential. Knowing that you do not have to experience these feelings of fear alone is a great first step. Take care of yourself and your radiation therapy will take care of your cancer.