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Thread: What's getting a radiation mask like?

  1. #1

    What's getting a radiation mask like?

    My Case Manager at my insurance company (terrific!) said the radiation is different for brain than other parts of the body. What is it like to get the "mask" made? She didn't know that process.

    1. Does it cover your face? hair area? whole head?
    2. What is it made of?
    3. Is it difficult to breathe?
    4. What position is your body in? sitting? lying flat?

    I haven't seen the radiologist yet and this stuff is quite bothersome to me.

    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    Re: What's getting a radiation mask like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knit4Brains
    1. Does it cover your face? hair area? whole head?

    A: It covers your whole head. It is like a shell in that there are two halves... one for the back and one for the front of your head. It can be quite intimidating at first. However, as the treatment progress, it will become easier.

    2. What is it made of?

    A: I do not know what specifically it is made of but it is some form plastic that becomes soft under low heat and the form a hard shell when it is molder around your head. The first time you go they will most likely only make the mask. The process takes about one hour. They first soften the plastic under moderate heat. Then they place one of the two sheets of plastic under your head and mold it the back side. They to the same for the front of your head, gently molding it around your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and chin making sure that it will hold your head in an identical position every time. You will use the same mask for all of your treatments so make sure it is comfortable.

    3. Is it difficult to breathe?

    A: The shell has a lot of holes in it so that you can breath. They had to use two for me because the first one totally blocked my nose. The second on also blocked my nose but only partially. It was easy enough to breathe and I never felt like it was suffocating me.

    4. What position is your body in? sitting? lying flat?

    A: You are bolted down to an MRI type bed with your knees slightly bent. Be sure you are as comfortable as you need to be because staying on your back for almost one hour call get rather painful if you have any joint or back problems.
    I hope my answers are helpful. I had this done in 2006 after recovering from surgery. I received radiation every weekday for about 3 months. Since I could not drive, it was really a burden to get there and back. My treatment center is about 45 miles away from my home. Fortunately, my father had a bunch of retired friends from his church that were willing to drive me there, wait for me, and then drive me back.

    Good luck. Let us know what happens.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  3. #3
    Wow. Glad I have that info. I may try some of those "Breath Right" strips for my nose. I have a deviated septum/sinus drainage and the thought of compression there is worrisome. Perhaps that plan would be acceptable to the medical staff.

    I'll try to remember to come back here and let everyone know if that happens and/or works.

    I am grateful for the detailed explanation and attention to each question. I tried to pose my "subject" question to be helpful to someone else scanning the board looking for random information.

    Many thanks.

  4. #4
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    A good subject header is very helpful and, in fact, in keeping with our policies . Thank you for taking the time to use a very clear question in your subject line.

    Be sure your radiology oncologist knows about your sinus problems. That information might affect your treatment. If you do use the strips, make sure you have one when they form the mask. The mask should not compress your nose but if you do not have one when they make the mask, when you do receive treatments using one, that might make it harder rather than easier for you to breath. I too have sinus problems but I never thought about using the strips.... Too late now Obviously, talk to your medical team before using the strips.

    Lastly, if this is any comfort to you, if or when my cancer recurs, I would do the mask thing again without any hesitation... less hesitation than surgery or chemotherapy anyhow. I might have to move up to Nashville for a few months but it would be worth it if I could avoid chemo or surgery. Anyhow, this is just my own personal choice.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  5. #5
    I did read the policies and related administrative sections. I'm always the one who reads the directions first. Permits and contracts too. Drives 'em crazy. Besides, it makes sense to make it easy for the next person on this sight looking for the same information - right? It also makes sense to limit the use of medical and internetspeak abbreviations.

    And did I get you right? You'd be okay with getting another mask done to ward off another tumor? What a great idea. Masks for everyone! Every day!

    Families too!

    You've been a tremendous help last night and today.

  6. #6
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    Ohhh NO NO NO NO NO... You got me wrong . I would not do it to prevent a recurrence and not to everyone. Radiation is dangerous in that it can actually cause cancers in people who are otherwise healthy. It can kill healthy cells as well. So, masks only to people where a medical team says it is appropriate.

    I was saying that when my cancer returns and if I have the option, I would much rather have the radiation than face chemo or surgery again.

    Have to be careful how I phrase things
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  7. #7
    Heavens to Betsy! Now it's my turn to be embarrassed. I re-read your post and understand now.

    1. When they find another tumor
    2 and if you had had a choice
    3. getting a mask made and the associated radiation therapy would be preferable to chemo or surgery.

    The last bits about "masks for everyone" was based on my belief that you were kidding. Here I am bragging about my diligent reading of rules and I'm being cavalier about this very serious subject. My first craniotomy was in 1991. It's old hat to me, but this diagnosis/treatment isn't. Obviously, I need to curb my twisted sense of humor so I don't offend. Especially since I'm sitting here pre-treatment. Point taken.

  8. #8
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    Hi Knit4Brains,

    How is the radiation therapy going? Have you started it yet?

    Still thinking about you.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  9. #9
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    Knit4Brains-

    I, too have been following your story- How is it going?
    Thinking of you Inica



    ~Nose Cancer~
    ~Car Accident- Broken Back, Ribs, Spleen
    Sternum~
    ~Continous Cervical Cancer~

    My Story-
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=6731


    9 Lives and still kicking

 
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