Coping with Radiotherapy - advice please

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Hello there, I need some advice for a friend of mine who has a benign brain tumor (meningioma)  and her treatment is 15 rounds of radiotherapy.  She has been fitted for a mask and was meant to begin the treatment. However, she is finding it impossible to cope with the mask and remain still and calm as it triggers memories of a very difficult, violent, relationship. 

Yesterday she was due to receive the first treatment but had a massive panic attack, followed by a seizure.  She has regularly  seizures when she becomes stressed.

My question is, has anyone got any tips on how to manage the feeling of claustrophobia when the mask is placed on?   She tried again today but had another panic attack and it was decided to wait until next week to begin the treatment after she has spoken to a counsellor.

Many thanks.

  • Hi Kanga53

    A warm welcome to the community. So sorry to hear about your friend and the issues with the radiotherapy mask.

    My husband went through 6 weeks of radiotherapy and complained every day that the mask was so tight and they squashed his nose when they fastened it on. 

    I would hope your friend's CNS or radiotherapy nurse would be able to advise her on how to cope with this. Hopefully speaking to the counsellor will also hopefully help. 

    This group is a really supportive caring space so hopefully someone will be along shortly to add their thoughts/experience here.

    It’s always good to talk so please let your friend know that you can also call the Macmillan Support Services on 0808 808 00 00 - most services are open 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week Clicking here to see what is available. This service provides lots of cancer information, emotional support, benefit and financial guidance or just a listening ear.

    I hope she finds a way to cope with her treatment soon. 

    love n hugs

    Wee Me xx

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm

  • Hi Wee Me, thank you so much for your reply.  My friend is saying at the moment she doesn’t think she will go ahead with the treatment which is a worry.  So I’m hoping the counsellor will help.  They have offered a sedative but not convinced that will work.

    your husband was brave to cope with that for six weeks!  I didn’t realise ithe mask was actually fastened down.

    Thank you again for your kind response.x

  • Hello, I had a very tough time with the mask and ended up taking a low dose Xanax half an hour before each session as well as asking for music. This helped a lot. The last two weeks I managed without the pill. Do share this with your friend and encourage her to try with the sedative. Good luck to her. 

  • Thank you so much for your response, Sarbel.  I shall pass this onto to my friend.  Treatment hasn’t begun yet as she’s been unwell with something unrelated.  So still has this treatment ahead of her.