Radiotherapy: Tips from the Community

"Radiotherapy: Tips from the Community" over a picture of a yellow teddy bear in a field.

Radiotherapy is part of many people’s experiences with cancer, and lots of members talk about Radiotherapy here in the Online Community. No matter what treatment you’re experiencing, here in the Community there might be someone who really understands. We’ve collated some of our members’ tips and support below.

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays, such as x-rays, to treat cancer. People can have radiotherapy for different reasons, and you can read more about how radiotherapy works, side effects and more on Macmillan’s information and support website.

It’s important to remember that the tips below are from Community members’ personal experiences. Everyone’s experience of cancer and radiotherapy can be different. If you have any questions or concerns about radiotherapy, it’s important to seek the right support:

  • Contact your medical team or GP
  • NHS 111
  • Macmillan’s Support Line, where you can speak to our Cancer Information nurse specialists on 0808 808 00 00, live webchat or email 7 days a week, 8am-8pm.

Feeling prepared and doing little things to make yourself more comfortable can make a big difference. Our members often talk about how to make the most of your appointments and not being shy about asking questions.

“When I went for appointments I took a list of my questions in a notebook and wrote down the answers too as sometimes there is lots of information to think about.  Don't be afraid to ask the medics to explain things if you haven't taken it all in at first.”

LittleRunner in the “Womb cancer” group

“Most Radiotherapy Units have Free or greatly reduced Parking Fees for Rads Patients - Check with your hospital about this at your pre-rads assessment appointment.”

Dreamthief in the “Breast cancer” group

“The weekly consultations are the best time to bring up any concerns.”

Rily in the “Bladder cancer” group

“Speak to your team about your concerns, and when your journey does start, please do not be shy about telling the team if you need more pain relief.”

TrevW in the “Head and neck cancer” group

“If you are able too get to your treatment centre early I would recommend asking for morning appointments, the earlier the better.”

Moppers in the “Breast cancer” group

“Going to the unit daily for relatively short sessions can be tiring. If friends offer you a lift, take up the offer! I was lucky as we get transport provided here so I had a taxi every day free of charge.”

Lacomtekp in the “Breast cancer” group

While you’re going through radiotherapy, lots of our members also say things like that there’s lots of ways you can help yourself between appointments. You could try doing activities which help you feel relaxed, such as a gentle walk (have you seen the “Walking back to happiness” thread?) or watching your favourite film.

“You should keep hydrated so over next few weeks so drink plenty of water.”

Grogg in the “Breast cancer” group

“You may find a small cushion or a teddy bear between you and the seat belt may make you more comfortable when travelling, I used a teddy bear!”

Kwissy in the “Breast cancer” group

While everyone’s experience might be different, the Online Community is here for you while you’re going through treatment. No matter what you’re going through or how you’re feeling, talking to others who might be going through a similar experience can really help.

“Please don't be scared it is ok honestly.”

GRANNY59 in the “Breast cancer” group

“Reading others’ accounts of their own journeys can be alarming. It certainly scared me! But everyone’s cancer is slightly different and consequently everyone’s journey is slightly different.”

MarkEL in the “Head and neck cancer” group

“If you type 'radiotherapy' into the search bar at the top of the screen [on the Online Community] you'll find quite a few previous posts on the topic which you could have a look through.”

Latchbrook in the “Vagina cancer” group

Find out more and find support

Have you had or are currently having radiotherapy? Post your tips below in the comments or introduce yourself in the “Radiotherapy and Side Effects” group.

  • I found all the medication a bit complex so made my own chart of when to take/apply things and pictures of what they looked like in case someone else had to find it. I've tried to post it here but haven't managed to upload the file.                                                                                                                    

  • Just to echo one of the posts above. The daily travel can be tiring, so not ideal to drive yourself. I had a 20 mile motorway journey which is not recommended if you are not at your best. In the NW and I believe in the NE, we have a wonderful voluntary ambulance car service who transported me each day, free of charge. This was arranged for me by the radiology reception. Covid has probably reduced this service, but I can't praise these drivers enough, mainly ex patients. Best wishes.