If you’re about to have your first radiation treatment, you may be a little apprehensive and full of questions such as: What will it be like? Will it hurt? How long will it last? You’ll find the answers here as well as other information that will help you feel prepared, calm and confident.
Speed through check-in. You’ll need to check in when you arrive, so come prepared. Bring your insurance and hospital registration cards, names and addresses of your referring physician and primary care doctor, a list of meds and your pharmacy phone number.
Get changed. You’ll put on a robe or gown and remove any jewelry that might get in the way. And if you applied deodorant, antiperspirant, lotion or powder to the area that will be treated (which can interfere with radiation), you can use wipes to remove it.
Meet your therapist and get settled. Your radiation therapist will be with you throughout the day, so get ready to make a new friend. She’ll help you onto the table, put you in the right spot and monitor you from another room.
Relax. Be still and calm during the treatment. Like an X-ray, it’s invisible and painless and the machine won’t touch you.
Pass the time. A session lasts 15 to 20 minutes (and you’ll likely be in and out of the office in less than 40 minutes). Lying still in the required position can get uncomfortable after a while, so listening to music on your iPod or MP3 player can keep you distracted. The music will also help drown out any noise the machine makes as it emits radiation.
Feel free to speak up. You’ll be monitored from a TV, intercom or camera. So you can talk to the therapist if any problems arise.
Ask away. After the session, ask any questions you have about managing side effects.
Jot down your next appointment. Note the date and time of your next session. Most treatments are daily, five days a week, for one to eight weeks.