Q: Are radiation treatments painful?
A: Patients typically do not feel the treatment. Generally given over several sessions ranging from one week to eight weeks, daily radiation treatments given for cancer are much like having an x-ray taken. The patient lies still on the table for 10-15 minutes as a prescribed dose of radiation is delivered to the precise area needed for treatment. Side effects of the radiation treatment are specific to the area being treated and usually do not occur until a few weeks into the session. For more information about side effects of radiation therapy, visit www.fsro.net or www.cancer.org.
Q: Do all patients have the same side effects from radiation therapy?
A: Many factors can affect one’s side effects from radiation treatments. Factors can include: the area of the body being treated, the size of the treatment field, the physical size of the patient, and the sensitivity of normal tissues. Also, the combined treatment of radiation therapy with chemotherapy can enhance side effects. No two patients react the same to radiation treatments. Everyone’s treatment is customized and unique to their cancer diagnosis. Your radiation treatment team will work hard to minimize as many side effects as possible.
Q: I keep hearing about Relay For Life. What exactly is Relay For Life?
A: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a yearlong fundraising event. Locally, in September of every year, area teams start raising money by having bake sales, yard sales, raffles, anything they can think of to raise money. In May or June the actual Relay event happens and in Fort Smith, it is a 12 hour party from 6pm until 6am. During this event teams walk laps, survivors are honored and basically it is a big party with food, competitive games, theme laps, and shopping. The teams will continue to raise money through August. Although some money does stay locally for programs, the American Cancer Society uses the majority of money raised for research to find a cure for cancer.
In our community, we are blessed with a true spirit of volunteerism. Whatever the cause, many of our citizens are ready to help. In doing so, these volunteers not only support a worthy cause but also gain personal benefits.
The act of volunteering has been found to improve quality of life for both the giver and the receiver. Producing both mental and physical rewards, volunteerism has been shown to reduce stress, improve health, strengthen community, bring people together, allow individuals to gain experience, give a sense of community responsibility, and allow people to make a difference.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life is the perfect example of volunteerism and the power of individuals working together toward a common goal— to find a cure for cancer. The money raised over the years has helped countless doctors and scientists for their cancer research. Many of the modern miracles in the cancer arena have been discovered by American Cancer Society funded doctors.
The American Cancer Society is responsible for the discovery of the Pap smear test for detection of cervical cancer, for determining the link between tobacco use and cancer, for the use of mammograms for detection of breast cancer, for the administration of the drug tamoxifen for breast cancer, and for the discovery of numerous chemotherapy drugs. Remarkably, the American Cancer Society has supported 47 Nobel Prize winners for cancer research. These advances have been primarily made possible by volunteers. The world of oncology has truly been shaped and funded by the volunteers of the American Cancer Society.
Nearly everyone is touched in some way by cancer during a lifetime. Please consider joining the fight at your local Relay For Life event. The Fort Smith Relay For Life will be held at Ramsey Junior High on Friday, May 30,starting at 6pm. Come out and cheer on all the local cancer survivors as they take the field to walk their lap unified together as survivors. While you are there, give a donation, walk a lap or two, enjoy a good dinner, and listen to live music as our local volunteers all work together to finish the fight against cancer.