Q. I am looking to connect with survivors of cervical and/or vaginal cancers who have found success in managing long-term side effects of pelvic radiation. I have been offered little in terms of treatment of after effects and am wondering if anyone has found relief.
Thank you for this important question. As you have experienced, pelvic radiation can lead to some long-term side effects that can impact your quality of life, including physical discomfort as well as sexuality and intimacy concerns. Talking about these side effects with others who have experienced them can be very helpful; it provides you a space to discuss these issues with another woman who has “been there” and can be a way to receive useful suggestions and tips. If you’d like to speak one-on-one with another gynecologic cancer survivor, you can explore “peer matching”, a service where you would be matched to another survivor who is similar in age and course of treatment for individual phone conversations. Some organizations providing this matching service include Cancer Hope Network, Imerman Angels and SHARE Cancer Support.
Joining a support group can be another great way to connect with others in similar situations. CancerCare offers an online Gynecological Cancer Patient Support Group for individuals in treatment or those who have recently completed treatment. This free private, message-board style group is moderated by an oncology social worker and registration can be completed online.
You can also view the full range of CancerCare’s post-treatment resources.
I would also encourage you to speak to your medical team about the side effects you have been experiencing. Although it is true that some of the radiation side effects may be long-lasting, there may be ways to better manage or reduce the severity. Your oncologist and/or gynecologist can advise you on what options might be applicable for your individual situation.