“What?!?!” was my response to the diagnosis at the ER. Not very festive for a Christmas vacation. A far cry from the comfort of my mother’s house, where my son was waiting for me. I had been sleepy and tired for months. My center of gravity was off, and I’d get spells of dizziness. Weeks before, I went to an acupuncturist because I knew my chi was unbalanced. The ER doctor found my breast cancer had metastasized to my Cerebellum. A surgery removal and radiation therapy was schedule and were my greatest chances for survival. What a vacation!

Brain Radiation side-effects:

Fatigue and mood changes

Fatigue and mood changes are among the most common side effects of radiation therapy. Fatigue has been reported in up to 90 percent of people with cancer treated with radiation. Fatigue is different from a feeling of tiredness, and it may build over time as you continue radiation treatment.

Take naps and exercising regularly are two strategies that may help you deal with your fatigue.
Fatigue may last up to a year after treatment.

Mood changes
This may include irritability, depression, and anxiety. Hormonal imbalances caused by radiation therapy and emotional factors can also affect mood changes.

Hair loss
Many people who receive radiation visibly lose hair. A recent study found that 75 to 100 percent of people develop noticeable hair loss.
Hair loss generally starts 2 to 3 weeks after starting radiation therapy.
The ACA reports that hair often grows back within 3 to 6 months after radiation treatment is finished

Nausea and vomiting
A study by National Library of Medicine found “50 to 80 percent of people undergoing traditional radiation therapy develop nausea and vomiting during or after treatment. Nausea may come in waves and may appear before vomiting.

”Talk to your doctor to find the best treatment for you.

Skin changes
According to another study conducted NLM, “Approximately 85 percent of people undergoing modern radiation therapy experience moderate to severe skin reactions around the treatment area. Some people develop dry and peeling patches of skin, while others develop skin that looks sunburned, puffy, red, or swollen. Severe reactions may include blistering, skin loss, and ulcers. It’s common to develop sores in your mouth.”

Report all side effects to your doctor who may adjust your radiation dosage

Headaches
Radiation therapy can cause swelling of the brain that causes headaches. Headaches seldomly occur in patients

If you experience new or worsening headaches, immediately report that to your doctor

Vision changes
A rare side effect, but some people develop blurry vision or other vision changes because of damage to cells in the eyes or optic nerve.

Immediately report any visual changes to your doctor

Radiation necrosis
Radiation necrosis is a rare side effect where a mass of dead tissue forms at the tumor site months or years after the primary treatment. It can often be managed with corticosteroids, but in some cases, you may need surgery.

Increased risk of another brain tumor
There is a small risk of tumors occurring years after radiation.

Memory and cognitive changes

  • Memory Loss
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Problems Concentrating
  • Personality Changes
  • Specific symptoms to the part of your brain damaged

Seizures

Swelling of your brain due to radiation can lead to seizures. 

Contact your doctor immediately.

This journey takes a toll, but don’t let it take your moxie!