For any person going through radiation therapy, care from close friends and family plays a vital role in the success of their treatment. Having a support system to rely on allows them to focus solely on their healing. If you've made the decision to care for a loved one undergoing this treatment, you've made an excellent choice. Make sure you know what to expect and what precautions you need to take.
What Should You Expect?
One factor that makes radiation therapy sometimes difficult to manage is that it can affect different people in different ways. However, there are some staple symptoms that many people experience.
Skin irritation – The potent and powerful chemicals used in radiation therapy can surface in the form of skin irritation or sores. These sores will heal; however, proper healing requires that they be left alone. Make certain you're covering all your loved ones' scars with bandages to prevent scratching or rubbing. When washing clothes, ensure you aren't using any fragrant laundry detergents to wash their clothing as this can only agitate the skin and cause further irritation.
Fatigue – It's fairly common for an individual undergoing this treatment to suffer from fatigue. You can't eliminate the feelings of exhaustion, but you can help them better manage them by taking over as much of the responsibility as you can. The more you take care of concerning day-to-day needs, the more they can rest and balance physical demands. While fatigue is most often witnessed in the physical form, emotional and mental fatigue are also quite common.
A large number of people undergo a form of therapy known as external radiation therapy. If you are taking care of someone who falls into this category, you don't need to take any precautions. However, if your loved one is undergoing systemic or internal radiation therapy, you do need to take precautions.
These forms of treatment can produce radioactive activity long after the session has ended. It's best to limit physical contact for the duration of time prescribed by their physician. If you need to change any dressings or other garments, be especially careful as their bodily fluids can also contain this radioactive activity.
Remember that you will be more than a simple caregiver. You will also be a rock of support. Make sure you are prepared for the challenge, as your efforts can help heal your loved one physically, mentally and emotionally.
For more information on radiation therapy, contact Firelands Regional Medical Center.