Completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy-recovery period

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I have finally got to the end of my treatment of both chemo in weeks one and five and five and a half weeks of radiotherapy for my anal cancer.
Blush I’m so pleased to have gotten to this stage with all the valuable advice this community has offered.

I am extremely sore right now and expecting the next three weeks to be difficult. I have burns internally and externally and going to the toilet for either, is so excruciatingly painful Disappointed relieved, I am using the spitz baths and the flamamil hyro gels as well as taking regular paracetamol and morphine which I can say only just touches the pain, it certainly doesn’t take it away. I’m on stool softeners as well. 
I know that I m over the worse part but I’m getting really exhausted with the pain and the tightness of my under carriage that if there is anything else that anyone can recommend to help I would appPrayciate it for the next few weeks. I’m trying deep breathing and mindfulness but some days I just sit and have a good cry through the pain. Thanks for all the support so far. It’s been so helpful. Pray

  • Hi  ,

    Firstly huge congratulations on completing your treatment although as you’ve already said the next couple of weeks are when your side effects will peak but once you’ve turned that corner you’ll hopefully be surprised as I was on how quickly things actually heal, internally I found things took a little longer but externally the speed at which my skin healed amazed me to be honest! 

    My side effects peaked around day 11 after my last radiotherapy session & until then I spent a good hour or 2 twice a day laying in a warm Epsom salt bath, this is where I was most comfortable. I kept up with the stool softeners, I used Flamazine cream but found using this directly on my broken skin it stung like crazy so a lovely lady on here said she mixed it with a tiny amount of aqueous cream which I started doing & it was much better although once the raw parts healed a little I was able to go back to using the Flamazine cream neat as prescribed. I couldn’t use morphine or anything else that was opiate based but I alternated high dose ibuprofen & paracetamol 2 hourly even if I felt I didn’t need it as my oncologist advised to try & stay ahead of the pain opposed to treating it when it occurred I also took lansoprazole to protect my stomach with taking the high dose ibuprofen. I kept a jug of water by the loo when it was painful to pee & just poured it over myself as I was going to take the sting out! Many people that have found the sitz baths useful have said that going to the loo whilst sitting in the water of the sitz bath helps with the discomfort of going also so you could give that a try maybe. I also think that most of us, me for definite, have sat & had a good cry throughout this too, better out than in my nan used to say so if you feel like that’s what you need then go ahead & do it! 

    I really hope you find yourself over this hurdle really soon & your recovery is a speedy one. Please just let us know if there’s anything we can possibly do to support you further. 


  • Hello Gill, I almost wept myself when I read how painful things are for you right now and it took me back to those post treatment days.

    I think Nikki's advice on staying ahead of the pain is really valuable, and perhaps you could check with your treatment team that you are taking enough; I know upper doses can be quite a bit higher than are used normally but it might be worthwhile just to get you through the next couple of weeks, as things start to ease up. And yes, they will. 

    I also found going to the toilet into warm water helpful and bought a little thing called a portable bidet, HappyPo, on amazon to squirt onto my undercarriage. It is very easy to use and then just you dab yourself dry with a soft towel rather than loo paper.

    Although this is a really good treatment for anal cancer, the damage done takes your poor body a while to get over but you are on the way now. I wish you strength and healing as the days pass, and please let us know how you are doing. (I am almost three years post treatment and so far all is fine)  xx

  • Hi Gill8,

    As you know, I’m about a week ahead of you and am now 8 days post treatment.

    The first 5-6 days were really hard. Very sore, internally and externally and going to the toilet was excruciating. I also had a good cry and felt sorry for myself.

    That said, I’ve definitely turned a corner in the last couple of days. My skin is much better underneath, but the skin around my anal area is taking a little longer - I guess it’s not so easy to get air to it there. Going to the toilet is still very painful but breathing through it and the stinging/burning passes after a short while.

    My advice would be to rest as much as you can (I’ve been in bed most of the time), get air to the sore areas and keep applying the gels/creams. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but it will feel better soon. I didn’t believe it when I was feeling so sore but it’s true.

    Drink lots of water, take the pain relief they offer (I’m on codeine) and stool softeners.

    Big hugs

    Georhue x

  • Oh Gill, you did it! Yay you!

    I'm re-reading my journal of this time period, and kind of in awe at myself for getting through it. In my head it took much longer- like months- to see any difference, but that's not so. After 3 weeks I was cutting back on the opiods and doing more, and getting through some days without crying at all!

    It's still a sketchy, convoluted recovery, with setbacks and periods of self pity and despair.

    But not many of those. Most of my life at 2 years out looks to the outside observer to be pretty normal, and for all my bitching, is a lot more normal than I'd have thought possible when I was sitting where you are.

    Well, don't sit. 

    One thing I found very helpful was going commando. Wrap a sarong or a towel around yourself and finda comfy place where you can lean or lie back (I used a recliner, or outside in a lounge chair) and let your poor tortured skin just bask in cool air. A very gentle fan or breeze is better yet. 

    One of the worst things about this cancer is that our skin never gets to breathe. 

    White-knuckle it through the next week or three. I know it's hard. But you're so, so close.



  • Thanks Nicola, for the encouragement and continued support, I think I am trying most of what people are suggesting now and like you say it will take time over the next few weeks! It’s good to hear tPrayt your skin cleared up relatively quickly, here’s hoping mine will be the same. Thanks again Pray

  • Thanks Vanilla, my goodness three years lost treatment well done and so reassured that there is life after this horror!

    Yes agree the portable bidet is a godsend and does help to lessen the pain, I’m trying to get it ready and filled with warm water before I start! 
    I do appreciate your kind wishes and comments it does give me hope and strength knowing that I can do this like everyone else that has had this cancer. 
    thanks, all the best x

  • Nice to hear from you Georgie and I remember you being ahead of me, it’s good to hear how you are dealing with it and reassuring that things are on the mend for you. 
    I definitely can’t do much apart from rest on my bed or couch most days and think that does help, thanks for the reassurance and advice, it means a lot. All the best for your recovery too. Xx

  • Hi Suz, Thanks Pray, you made me laugh which is what I needed right now, I will definitely try the commando routine and have been using a cool hairdryer down below after applying my gels and creams, it’s a sight for sore eyes Eyes but it helps! 
    It’s good to know that two years down the line you are experiencing a relatively normal life after this dreadful cancer experience. 
    I look at each and everyone of these posts and think we should all take so much strength and determination from each other to have been through this and those of us just coming out the other side with yet a few further challenges ahead, I can do this, like you have all done this! So thank you very much, your support means so much and helps get me through the dark times when I’m feeling low and weak. Thank, take care x

  • Hi Gill , 

    well done for getting over the line !!!

    Monday sees week 5 for me and the pain , constant trips to loo / sitz bath / creaming is now the norm .. I believe it gets worse but the bedroom has become my sanctuary except for the daily trips to hospital … 

    take care 

    Chrissie xx

  • Give it 3 weeks then you'll see the light at the end of the tunnel xx