Breath Holding Technique during radiation treatment is a “Heart Saver”

Being a advocate for yourself while having cancer is not easy. While emotionally processing the diagnosis,  the whirlwind of appointments, testing and information can become quickly overwhelming. If there is ever a time in your life to be a advocate for yourself, this is it!! Deep inspiration breath hold is a simple process that can be done during your radiation treatments. By taking a deep breath in, your lungs fill with air and your heart will move away from your chest. Holding your breath for a few seconds while the radiation is being delivered reduces the exposure of radiation to the heart, reducing potential damage . It is not often offered especially for women with right sided breast cancer. While the radiation affect on the heart is less for women getting radiation on their right side it is not without risk. Talk to your radiation oncologist prior to getting the scans done for your radiation therapy (mapping), as the breath hold technique must be utilized during this planning stage .  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There is no need for any additional complications when a simple technique can greatly reduce the percentage of heart damage. Getting on the right path from the beginning is of the utmost importance. Gather as much information about your diagnosis and treatment options as possible. Take notes, ask questions and keep a record of your test results. You will be asked frequently about your results and having them easily available is essential . While not delaying treatment is important, getting all the needed information initially is essential. Getting a second opinion can be helpful in sorting out the details and exploring all options for your cancer care. It is important to ask questions and be part of the decision making process.  Know the risks, benefits and the expected outcomes.  Once you begin treatment it’s important to be aware of your body and know how your feeling. While cancer treatments can often come with unpleasant side effects, there are many ways to lessen them. Communicating your symptoms to your treatment team is essential and there is no need to suffer unnecessarily. Check out our other blog posts.