This is my first post! I have been checking this forum for a couple of weeks and found it so helpful (and less scary!) than googling!
I am 39 and recently been diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer. I have had CT, MRI and PET scans which have all shown there is no spread. I have been advised I will shortly undergo 25 sessions of radiotherapy, 5 sessions of chemotherapy and 3 sessions of brachytherapy! I have my planning scan this week and will soon find out when my treatment will start. Has anyone had similar diagnosis/treatment and how did they find this?
Currently feeling very emotional and trying to come to terms with everything!
Bless you, I’m in exactly the same position as you (although still to confirm brachytherapy sessions but pretty sure this will happen). Wishing you all the best and happy to chat if that helps as we are both in the same position. Like you I’ve had my CT, PET and MRI scan and start treatment on 13/3/23.
I am 39 and was also diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer in December, I am having 25 radiotherapy, 5 chemotherapy and 3 brachytherapy and started on the 13th Feb, I’m happy to chat anytime xx
You’ve got this! You’ll find that there are SO many women on this forum all in varying stages and ages that have had the same treatment plan as you, myself included. About 5 weeks of daily radiation, weekly chemo, and 2-4 Brachy seem to be the gold standard treating women regardless of stage and involvement. I am 32 - had a 5CM tumor without spread - considered stage 1B3. They did 25 radiation, 6 chemotherapy (only added one more because I happened to be at the hospital for my last radiotherapy session and figured it couldn’t hurt), and 4 brachytherapy. They scanned me before I started my brachytherapy and found my tumor had shrunk down to 2.7CM and Drs felt confident the brachytherapy would take care of the rest, so will see what happens. I went through treatments mostly unscathed - some days I was more tired than others and I did get a bit constipated as time went on, but nothing unbearable. I continued to work and it didn’t impact my daily life. Around week 3 of treatment I started having some urinary issues that I’m still dealing with and that has been the worst part. I found the brachytherapy to be way easier than I was expecting. It’s a fast and furious 6-7 weeks of treatment - I just finished last week and outside of this lingering urinary pain I really feel pretty back to normal. Just remember to take it easy and listen to your body. I’m here if you have any specific questions, but the treatment works and this group is proof. It’s just one more thing you have to go through, but power through and it’ll be over before you know it.
I had exactly the same treatment in Aug/Sep/Oct last year, now in remission. My experiences:
I felt sick from the first session - make sure you are given anti sickness meds beforehand! Radiotherapy is very simple to go through but you may experience bleeding, some pain every now and then and you may get constipated or go the other way. The process is very easy, the hardest bit is filling your bladder correctly as they will measure to make sure it is the right amount. My biggest tip for this - leave your pride at the door, remember the radiotherapists do this all day every day and have seen bodies of all shapes and sizes.
You will get changed into a gown, go in, lie down on the flat bed under the machine and lower your knickers while having a cloth over your private area for modesty. The will line your tattoos up with the machine and then leave, the machine will scan you to make sure you bladder is full then there’ll be a long pause while that information goes through. When the radiotherapy starts the machine will spin again but be noisier this time, when it stops, you’re all done!
The radiotherapists will ask you how are you doing every single day, don’t do what I did and just say oh I’m fine, turns out they do this to check if you need any help, not just to make conversation!!
They may give you a PICC line for this - it saves you becoming a sieve in the long run but my biggest tip is to make sure they aren’t putting a hook in on the picc line to hold it in place, this was incredibly painful for me and I ended up with 5 blood clots because of this.
The actual process of getting chemo is very simple and quite relaxing, you’ll go into a big room, sit in a comfy chair and relax for a few hours, bring a book and nice snacks to make the experience more tolerable. They’ll flush through your picc line, which tastes strange, then give you fluids and magnesium as well as the chemo and you will be weighed at the start and end to make sure you don’t have fluid retention. Believe me when I say you will be desperate for a wee! lol
You’ll need your dressing on the picc line changed weekly, the chemo nurses can do this for you.
Chemo builds up in your system over time, so week 1 you may not feel any different and as the weeks go on it will affect you more and more. You’ll feel rough as old dogs, tired, your skin might go pale and washed out, your hair might go flat. It’s just very draining.
I got to my 5th session and felt like I couldn’t go through with it but remember your end goal and push through, those that miss chemo sessions or radiotherapy sessions don’t have as high a chance at success.
Chemo nurses are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
This was the scariest for me and I’m happy to admit I was terrified but the nurses are so incredibly kind and absolutely wonderful they made the experience actually ok for me. You will need to lie flat the entire time the apparatus is inside you.
They will put you out and give you an epidural for insertion then you will have a pain drip that you can press for pain relief. I didn’t find I needed it at all but it’s different for everyone. You will be taken for an MRI to check everything is in the right place then go to a ward or private room (due to the radiation).
The nurses will come to your bedside every hour and spray cold stuff on your sides to check how high or low your epidural is and may back it off for a while if it’s too high. I recommend bringing drinks in little cartons with straws as drinking when lying completely flat is a challenge and a half!! The actual internal radiotherapy session itself is incredibly short - 20-40 minutes, they hook up the apparatus into the machine, leave the room for a bit and you are done!
I really hope some of this helps, I’ve tried to give you lots of info but it turned out to be loooonnng. Sending you all the best - you got this!!
Hi @RT102 wishing you all the best too! I have my planning scan later today so will find out when my treatment will start! x
Hi @Cheryl84 sorry to hear you’re also in the same situation! How are you finding treatment so far? I have my planning scan today and have mixed emotions but at least will get a date for starting treatment! Hope you are doing well xx
Hi @cocorose22 thanks so much for your reply! I have to admit I’ve looked up the brachytherapy and have felt worried/petrified about this so glad to hear your experience of it wasn’t as bad! So good to hear you’ve come out the other side of your treatment and starting to get back to normal! I’m also hoping to carry on working throughout but I’ll just need to take it day by day and see how I feel! It’s been been a hard few weeks but messages from women like yourself who have gone through this really helps to stay a bit more positive! x
Hi @SamG thanks so much for your message! I think one of the scariest things is not knowing what to expect so this helps a lot! Will just need to take each day at a time and see how it affects me! I hope you are keeping well! x
Sorry for the late response, I hope you managed to get your planning scan and things are moving forward for you now with a date to start treatment.
I found that my anxiety and worry eased a little when I finally started treatment. That’s me nearing the end of week 4 now and although i’ve found it tiring at times and have had some radiation induced cystitis I feel that I have managed to carry on with daily life so far.
I can’t comment on the brachytherapy as I am not at that stage yet, I just try to look Positively in that others have said it wasn’t as bad as they expected so here’s hoping.
I hope that your dates are all set and you get started soon, you can do this. The weeks fly by when it’s all started. Good luck with it all, big hugs xx
Hi @Cheryl84 yeah planning scan went well and I’m starting treatment next week. Feeling very anxious and a bit all over the place but I think it’s the fear of the unknown and hoping once treatment actually starts that will ease a little!
Glad to hear treatment is going ok and you’re managing to carry on with daily life! You’ve not got much longer to go!!
I’ve also heard women say the brachytherapy isn’t as bad so I’m holding onto that as this is the treatment I’m most anxious about!
So nice to hear from you and hope the rest of your treatment goes well! Take care and sending hugs xx
Hi @Cheryl84 how are you getting on? Is that your treatment all finished now? xx
Hi @RT102 how are you getting on? xx
Hi @Sha159 how are you getting on with your treatment? I hope you’re managing to get through it and feeling well. How far into treatment are you now?
My treatment is finished now, I had brachytherapy 2 weeks ago, so now just keeping busy until my scan in a few months xx
Hi @Cheryl84 that’s me on week 4 now! Been feeling pretty ok. A little tiredness here and there and a little bowel issues the last few days but managing ok! How are you feeling now treatment has ended? Hope you’re doing well! How did you find the brachytherapy? I have 3 scheduled (which I’m trying not to think about!) xx
Hi @Sha159 thanks for checking in. I’m pretty much nearing this course of treatment, last chemo tomorrow and 5 more radiotherapy sessions before I move onto brachytherapy next week. I’m a little nervous about this but I’ve got to be brave. How are you doing?
Hi @RT102 yeah I am doing ok thanks! Had 4th round of chemo yesterday so only 1 more to go! Ended up needing a blood transfusion when I was in as my haemoglobin was slightly low so was a long day! Oh amazing you’re almost there now!! I feel the same about the brachytherapy! Trying not to think about it as it’s making me really anxious but as you say we need to be brave and beat this! Hope the rest of your treatment goes well and keep me updated how you get on x
Hi @Sha159 I’m glad to hear your getting on ok with the treatment, your nearly there!
I felt once I got started it passed quite quickly, here’s hoping that you get to the end of next week with no other side effects.
I have been tired and had some bowel issues since brachytherapy just over two weeks ago, other than that I’ve been ok. I’m starting to feel I have more energy now though. I was really anxious before the brachytherapy but it was nowhere near as bad as I expected. Hopefully your 3 sessions are over with before you know it, you’ve got this xx
Hi @Cheryl84 yeah I can’t believe how quickly the last 4 weeks have gone in! I met with one of the brachytherapy nurses yesterday to go over what would be happening. I’m in next Friday for the sleeve insertion for my first brachy the following Friday, then the following Wednesday/Thursday (this is an overnight stay which I’m dreading but hey ho it needs to be done!).
Glad you are feeling ok and hopefully the tiredness and bowel issues resolve quickly! Xx