Short-Term Side Effects of Breast Cancer Radiation.

baf331e493d69ae56b99dbe76e8ef600

We have a variety of patients who will need radiation therapy once they have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, we are going to discuss what are some of the short term side effects of radiation therapy.

The most common side effect is the area that receives the radiation therapy will become irritated. The area that will receive the treatment will feel more sensitive and even turn pink/red. The area will feel like a sunburn because it will potentially start to peel, blister, and even itch. Don’t forget the area can become more tender and sore. The irritation can get worse throughout your sessions, but it will get better once all treatments are completed. Another temporary side effect is if you are going to be treated near your underarms then you may loose underarm hair and you might perspire less. Woman tend to feel more fatigued as the weeks go by. However, this will elevate within a few weeks of the last treatment.

Remember, radiation therapy is given daily over weeks so it can be a bit of a time commitment. Therefore, work with your family to get a schedule in place so it doesn’t become stressful.

Here are a few things you can do to make the skin less sensitive during radiation treatment:

  • Don’t shower with hot water
  • Avoid the shower water to hit the treated area directly
  • Use fragrance-free soaps with moisturizers
  • Wear loose-fitting shirts, preferably cotton.
  • Avoid having skin-on-skin contact
  • Wear bras without an underwire
  • Try to keep your arm away from your body
  • Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream thinly over the affected area 3 times a day
  • Use a sunblock with SPF 30 or higher on the treated area
  • Apply sunblock 30 minutes before you leave your home

 

Healthy Eating During Treatment!

0ea515dca6abe39ba954546842d80043Whether you are recovering from surgery, receiving radiation, or chemotherapy, you need to continue to focus on the breast cancer. Eating well during this time has never been more important. Good nutrition will keep you strong, help rebuild tissue, allow your body to handle side effects from treatment, and potentially help fight infection.

We have a variety of patients ask us what constitutes a healthy diet. Well, it consists of a variety of foods including a lot of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and grains. It should give you nutrients to keep you strong while you are being treated. The goal is to eat foods that will help rebuild your tissues and keep your immune system strong. Also, foods high in protein can help tame THE side effects from treatments like chemotherapy.

It’s important to never forget meals and to eat enough calories throughout the day. Items like cottage cheese, eggs, oatmeal, and protein shakes are great options to help keep you full throughout the day. Be sure to eat small portions of food frequently and eat them slowly.

Everyone’s nutritional needs vary so we will work hard to find what’s the best meal plan for you. Eating healthy will make you feel more energetic, maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of infection, and recover quickly.

Friday Feature: Breast Cancer Survivor!

breast-cancer-1

Maria is a 49 year old single mother of two who was referred to the Bridge Breast Network (BBN) by one of our community partners. She had been experiencing sharp pains in her right breast. As the months passed, the pain grew stronger and she noticed a lumped had developed. Maria was unsure of where to turn for help because she had no insurance.
She received a diagnostic mammogram and biopsy through a grant from Susan G. Komen. It revealed a her mass which was positive for breast cancer. Maria underwent a double mastectomy and was then referred her to the BBN for further treatment. Maria was introduced to her case manager during our Breast Cancer 101 session. Her case manager who assured her the BBN would be there to see her through treatment. One week later Maria meet with the oncologist who explained her breast cancer journey was not over, but just beginning.
Maria endured 12 cycles of vigorous chemotherapy and experienced a variety of side effects including hair loss. One day while in the area, Maria and her daughter stopped by the BBN office with her daughter to show her appreciation and gratitude to the staff for their support during her time of need. Maria was assisted with a where to find a wig and even a breast prosthetics when she was at Bridge Breast Network. She was directed to Dr. Maria Gonzalez at the BBN office who helped her find the perfect wig, Maria. Afterwards, she was measured for a bra and prosthesis. Maria left the office with so much more confidence thanks to our case manager. She called later that week to let us know that she was feeling spiritually and physically better after her visit.
We save lives by providing access to diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer to low income, uninsured and underinsured individuals. Please, let us know if you know anyone suffering from breast cancer. We are here to help.

 

Applying for Disability Benefits with Breast Cancer in Texas

Breast cancer its treatments can prevent you from maintaining employment. It may put you out of work for a few weeks, or indefinitely. When your illness is likely to prevent you from working for a year or longer, you can potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Disability benefits can be the financial support you need to get by without employment income.

Social Security Disability Benefit Programs Available

Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration come in two forms. Qualifying medically is the same for both, but each will have its own technical requirements.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – which is for disabled workers who have paid Social Security taxes over their employment history and who have accumulated between 20 and 40 work credits, depending on the age in which you apply. A work credit is a metric that represents how much you actually paid in taxes. Most workers earn the maximum of four work credits per year, so your employment history must typically range from five to ten years to qualify. SSDI recipients in Texas will receive Medicare 24 months after their cancer started.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – which is a support program available to low-income individuals of all ages, including disabled children and adults as well as the elderly. This program has strict income and financial asset limits, but there are no work history requirements to qualify. SSI recipients in Texas will automatically be enrolled in Medicaid.

Meeting the program requirements for SSI and/or SSDI additionally requires you either:

  • meet a Blue Book listed condition

OR

  • qualify through a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis.

These options are the medical eligibility portion of qualifying for SSD benefits.

Medical Eligibility and Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is among the Social Security Administration (SSA’s) listed disabilities, though usually only those with advanced breast cancer meet the Blue Book specifications. The Blue Book is the SSA’s manual of impairments and is used by disability examiners when they review benefit applications.

The breast cancer listing appears in Section 13.10 of the Blue Book. This listing requires advanced cancer that has spread beyond regional lymph nodes. To meet the listing, your cancer must be:

  • An inflammatory carcinoma with adhesions to the skin, chest wall, or mammary gland internal nodes

OR

  • A carcinoma that has spread, with tumors present in axillary as well as regional lymph nodes, including infraclavicular (below your clavicle) or supraclavicular (above the clavicle) lymph nodes

OR

  • A carcinoma and has returned after initial treatment and is no longer responding to available therapies

Early Stage Breast Cancer and Disability Benefits

Breast cancer in its early stages does not meet the SSA’s Blue Book requirements, but you may still be able to qualify for benefits. The SSA must look at your “activities of daily living” or ADLs and decide if your illness and required treatments make it impossible for you to work for 12 months or longer. This process is known as a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis. Activities of daily living include your ability to sit, stand, walk, or do other household activities like cooking or cleaning.

Severe reactions to chemotherapy and radiation may cause significant daily limitations and make it impossible for you to complete everyday tasks in your personal life. These same reactions can certainly prevent you from returning to work. If you are so impaired by your cancer and treatments that you cannot work, then you may be granted benefits through an RFC analysis.

Compassionate Allowance and Metastatic Breast Cancer

While the SSA’s Blue Book listing requires particular medical evidence for documenting breast cancer with metastases, it is also important to note that the SSA understands the debilitating nature of advanced breast cancer. As such, metastatic breast cancer is among the medical conditions that qualify for expedited review under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program.

If you have advanced breast cancer and submit an application for benefits, your application is flagged and pushed through the review process quickly. The CAL program also minimized the medical evidence requirements in order to get your medical approval for benefits as fast as possible. You can be approved in as little as 10 days if your breast cancer has metastasized.

Applying for Benefits

The SSI and SSDI programs have separate applications. The SSDI application can be filled out online, but if you’re applying for SSI, you must participate in a personal interview with an SSA representative. SSI interviews are typically conducted at the local office. SSDI applications can be completed at the local office as well, if you choose.

Here are just a few of the SSA branch offices in Texas at which you can submit your SSI or SSDI application:

  • Abilene – 1202 E. South 11th St., Abilene, TX 79602
  • Austin – 1029 Camino La Costa, Austin, TX 78752
  • Dallas – 2530 S. Malcolm X Blvd., Dallas, TX 75226
  • Houston – 16200 Dillard Dr., Houston, TX 77040
  • Lubbock – 5826 16th St., Lubbock, TX 79416
  • Fort Worth – 819 Taylor St., Fort Worth, TX 76102
  • Odessa – 2015 E. 37th St., Odessa, TX 79762
  • San Antonio –  3438 E. Southcross, San Antonio, TX 78223

Deanna Power
Community Outreach Manager
Social Security Disability Help
857-366-7629

Friday Staff Feature!

We are starting a new segment on the blog and we are going to feature one of our staff members every Friday! Today, we are featuring Maria Gonzalez who’s been with us since 2009! She is an extremely dedicated and hard working Program Director! Since her arrival, she has dedicated herself to helping women and men through their breast cancer issues whether simple or complex.

Dr. Maria Gonzalez

Maria work’s extremely well with our patients, especially when they are feeling very overwhelmed with their diagnosis. Hearing the words “you have breast cancer” can be extremely scary.  However, Maria works with all of our clients to make sure they understand the disease better and teaches them what’s exactly going on with their bodies. She works our clients to make sure they know The Bridge Breast Network is there to help them through this difficult time!

Maria really enjoys working with our patients and she truly cherishes every moment. Staff and clients would describe Maria as a very supportive and caring person; and it shows to everyone who meets her.

CPRIT Milestone

Today, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced that it reached a new milestone: more than 2 million cancer prevention services have been provided to Texans in all 254 counties of the state.

“This is a momentous occasion in CPRIT’s history and it demonstrates how Texas leads the nation in the fight against cancer,” said Wayne Roberts, CPRIT’s CEO. “Our innovative and proven cancer prevention strategies are saving or extending the lives of thousands of Texans who ordinarily might not have access to screenings and diagnostics. The greatest opportunity to reduce the burden of cancer is by reducing its incidence – preventing it altogether.”

The Bridge Breast Network is part of this new milestone in CPRIT’s History.  View patient videos for more information.