Brachytherapy

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Hi

ive posted before, you might have seen me. I have tomophobia which is fear of medical procedures. 

I have been told I will need 4 sessions of brachytherapy over a week (Monday to Friday). They will get me in on Monday, do a spinal, then general, position the rods, wheel me to a scan to check and then wheel me to do the treatment and wheel me back to the ward until the next day. This will repeat every day for 4 days. They will let me out on the Friday or the Saturday. I asked my oncologist and my nurse and they have both said there is zero chance of this plan changing. It will be that and nothing else. I was hoping after my research and speaking to other women that I wouldn’t need it or would only need one day if it had gone. They have said this will absolutely not happen. 

When I say I am terrified, I mean it sends me in to a panic attack terrified. I have never been an inpatient at hospital. I am completely and utterly petrified of it. I am terrified of being stuck paralysed in a hospital bed for an entire week. I won’t see my two small children for a week. That’s not even starting on my fears about side effects. How on earth am I going to do this, and come out without being completely traumatised? 

  • Hello Frenchiefrankenstein... First of all congratulations on getting this far through your treatment.  I too was terrified of the Brachytherapy though probably not as intensely as you.  My Brachytherapy was done once a week for four weeks but it was a very similar procedure.  I was lucky in that I was still numb from the anasthetic every week when the rods were removed so I didn't feel a thing.  In some ways on a positive you will at least have it all over in a week rather than spreading it out over four weeks and then your treatment is done??  This last blast of radiotherapy is so important in that it is designed to remove any stray bits of the cancer that may be left.  I feel that once you've had the first one, hopefully you will not find the others so terrifying. It is strong and very effective.  Please muster up that last ounce of courage to finish this off and blast the blighter into oblivion.  You and your family will be so glad you did.  Be strong and brave - you can do this!  Please let us know how you get on xxx

  • Hi  

    I know I cannot properly understand your situation as you have such a real phobia. Have the medical staff not offered you any advice on how you could deal with this and be more able to cope? I feel they should be trying to help you and getting you some help now while the brachytherapy is still some weeks away. 

    I can understand that there is no way for us to be any real practical help as you have already built this up in your mind to be a horrendous ordeal. No women enjoy this, we don’t enjoy any of what we have to go through to try and be rid of our cancer but we just grit our teeth and get on with it because we have no choice. 

    Have you tried phoning the Macmillan support line (number is in my signature) and talking this through with someone? They might be able to suggest ways to manage this which might help? I’ve been very scared about what I had to go through myself, but I don’t have an actual phobia about treatment, though I do have ptsd. I’m so sorry this is so difficult for you to even contemplate doing, but please see if you can get some help, either from the doctors treating you or from the nurses on the support line. I don’t know anyone else who suffers from tomophobia, but the medical staff will have encountered this before and might know how best to help you with it.

    Sarah xx


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  • Hello

    i start my brachytherapy a week tomorrow and it’s weekly for 3 weeks.  I am terrified but know this is so important and the last hurdle to get over.  I am trying my best to just go with it and keep positive but I am so very scared and I am right there with you.

    sarah is right and such an inspiration and I always find her replies are very reassuring and help me.  Thank you Sarah.

    good luck 

  • Hi  

    It’s good to hear from you again, and thank you for your kind words.

    It looks like your brachytherapy will be a slightly different type since it is over 3 weekly sessions but you are so right to be thinking this is the last hurdle to get over. You can see light at the end of the tunnel!

    Even though I ended up unable to have brachytherapy, I do still remember how scared I felt about it and I was dreading it. But like you, I kept in mind it would be the last thing I had to do which would hopefully be the final blow to my cancer. In the end my worry was for nothing as I didn’t even have it! 

    Once this is done, you can start to recover and hopefully put all of this behind you. I liked an app called HeadSpace on my phone, which I found very calming. And I did deep breathing exercises to try to deal with my anxiety. 

    You’ll soon be finished-just keep going for the last few weeks. It’s all a hard slog, but you can do it!

    Sarah xx


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  • I hope it goes ok for you. They offered me to come in twice but I said no, I don’t know if my phobia would allow me to come back for the second time. 

    I’ve started radiotherapy now and will have Cisplatin on Thursday. Just need to get through this somehow x 

  • Good to see you again-I was wondering how you were getting on. You’ve got through your first line of chemo so try to think about how far you’ve come until this point and remember you’re doing really well.

    Did you manage to get any extra help from the staff in dealing with your phobia? 

    Sarah xx


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  • They’ve all been very nice but it is a case of I’ve just got to do it. They’ve asked for a side room for me so my husband can stay with me, but apart from that there’s not really much they can do. I’ve got a therapist who is trying to work on acceptance but it’s been all over the place because of work, kids, and treatment. 

  • Hello there

    Last year i had Brachytherapy weekly for 3 weeks, I was also terrified before treatment started. It turned out to be ok, the staff are amazing.

    I can only say to you, if your treatment is anything like mine then you will be ok (it's the fear of the unknown that has you worried)! 

    Sarah (as is usual), gives very sound advice, she helped me a lot when I needed reassurance.

    Hope all goes well 

    Linda

  • It must be incredibly difficult to undergo cancer treatment with a young family and coping with a job. I hope you can managed to go ahead with the brachytherapy, and hopefully having your husband nearby will help you get through it,

    Sarah xx


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  • Hi Linda

    How are you doing now? I hope you are well after all your treatments.

    Sarah xx


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