Breast out, immobilised. How’s the radiation small talk?

Temple Member Posts: 42
So I’ve done a week of radiation and struggling with what’s normal. People here often say the staff are so lovely and supportive  blah blah and have effusive praise. There is no conversation or small talk with me, they talk to each other but not to me. But quite frankly, how else could this go?  I don’t have language for this situation anyway. I’m still don’t see  any part of this as “normal”  or  even my. “new normal”, because it’s not. MKes breast lying on a board high up off the ground under a horrible machine. It’s terrible. So if you’re managing some kind of quality interpersonal communication with the therapists I take my hat off to you. Fortunately the treatment doesn’t take long, so I can’t imagine time to make conversation anyway. What do you even talk about? There is no team, or team approach. I see different staff everyday, and it’s really feels like just another day at the  “cancer factory”. This is a high end private facility. 


  • AllyJay
    AllyJay Member Posts: 931
    I must say that I never come across Florence Nightingale during my chemo, (never had radiation due to other major medical conditions). During my numerous hospital admissions the quality of care has been from one end of the good and bad spectrum to the other. I've crossed swords with two Nurse Ratched's (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), and a few really compassionate, professional and caring nurses. In the chemo factory, I felt like a piece of meat on the production line and a mere number. as in "The lady in room two" or bed 18.
  • Temple
    Temple Member Posts: 42
    Seems oncology is no different too other parts of the health system, all espousing their “dedication to patient centred care”, and “supporting you” blah blah but there are no guarantees. I know many on this site have had good experiences and a woman I met in the waiting room yesterday gave high praise for the team I am finding monosyllabic and robotic. 
    I think with chemo it’s terrible you weren’t treated in a very personal way. At least radiation is more suited to a fast and basic transaction.
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,257
    I’ve never had radiation but small talk for any procedure takes two. Staff are often busy, they may not mean to treat you as a number but the number of people they are dealing with at any one time can make a difference. Most of my chemo nurses were terrific but not able to chat for any length of time. Also not in a position to talk in anything but general terms about your health/treatment. Humour was the the uniting aspect - cancer ain’t funny but some of the ‘stuff’ around it is wonderfully absurd. Staff find a joke refreshing too. But as @Temple says, radiation is a speedier transaction that can be got through without much chat. Best wishes. 
  • Temple
    Temple Member Posts: 42
    Quite right, they are busy, and the priority focused on effective treatment. I imagine like many things, it comes down to cost. In order to deliver patient centred personalised service it would need to slow down and take time they don’t have. Which is a shame. 
    I went with my elderly and very unwell mother in law who has Parkinson’s to her neurologist appointment this week and she was rushed through and the main issues we wanted addressed were not. It was very disappointing with a specialist running behind and ushered her in and out. Her story is complicated and he didn’t have time for it.🥵
  • Temple
    Temple Member Posts: 42
    Terrific! I’ve felt positively traumatised early on that now it’s been hard to get back on track. I am a feeling more docile and learnt the ropes now. It’s not conducive to conversation and I’m told they are good at what they do so that’s all I need and also now know that it’s not me, it isn’t a place for meaningful dialogue that I’m missing out on somehow. 
    I have bought an sleep mask/eye thing like you get on a plane, so I don’t see the machine moving around me which has helped a lot. 🙏
  • Anne65
    Anne65 Member Posts: 425
    @Temple So sorry you have had such a bad experience with your treatment. it is a time when we feel very vulnerable & we feel like our world has been turned upside down so I little "love" can go a long way.
    I have had a very different experience through my rad & every other treatment/surgery. I had all mine done privately & I cant speak highly enough for the love, care & support shown to me. When i read posts like yours, i do feel very sorry for you & I feel very blessed & lucky that I have felt nothing but praise & admiration for everyone who has cared for me along the way. There were lots of hugs & I even cried on my last day of rad as the people who cared for me, were now not going to be there for me. I did develop quite a bond with the many who treated me. I am a chatterbox & by the end of my 3 weeks we all knew each others names, families & what we were all doing on the weekends! They even invited me back a few weeks later for a group meeting to discuss any improvements they could do but unfortunately I couldnt go as i had another surgery booked for the day after & i lived in the country.
    Again, I feel very sorry for your experience & I hope that you come across some loving, supportive care in the future as it sounds like you deserve it!! Take care. xx

  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,247
    edited November 2019
    Sorry you're having a bad experience with your rads, @Temple - such a shame, as it is quite an intimate relationship that develops over the period of a month or more.  I had a few different staff over the period, but more times than not, I had the same ladies, which was terrific.

    Like @Mira  and @Anne65 - my experience was quite comforting and whilst there isn't any chatting once on the table, everyone was very friendly and chatty upon arriving & before leaving!  They even asked my preferred music on my first day & always made sure they had 60s-90s rock playing for me!  They even remembered personal details that we'd discussed previously too .... I was amazed, given the numbers of people that they must see.

    I did my best to get 'into the position' correctly every time .... I made it into a bit of a game, really!   They would say "Just wriggle over here a tad" and I would.  They were very gentle with me - lots of 'stroking' and gentle pushing to get me into the 'zone'.

    Like @Anne65  - I also cried on my final session - it was whilst sitting in the change room that it dawned on me .... they had become my 'security blanket' more than any of my other experiences since being diagnosed (other than my wonderful GP who found my lumps initially.)  So it didn't look very professional, with me being face down, with a snotty, running nose, trying not to sniffle & move from position!! And I got lots of hugs when I left.

    Being rural, I was lucky & was staying on the hospital grounds for the month as well, at the Cancer Lodge - so just had a 3 minute walk to & from the department every morning or afternoon - so no need to drive anywhere.

    As @JoeyLiz (who is a radiologist) says - it is really only the 'before & after' where chatting can go on .. and they take their cue from their patients.

    I hope the rest of your rads becomes 'easier' for you as you continue.    Take care  xx

  • Mira
    Mira Member Posts: 678
    @Temple that's a great idea to take a sleep mask!  I wish I'd thought of it.   Ask them to put on some meditation or relaxation music while you're there, and then lie down throw your mask on and tell them to wake you up when they're done.  Let them do all the work while you have a bit of relaxation time.