Strengthen immune system after radiation?


Question from Karen S: I just finished radiation therapy after four lumpectomies. My immune system is finished and I can't seem to strengthen it. I've tried everything. What do you suggest?
Answers - Marisa Weiss, M.D. I'm not sure what you mean by your immune system is finished. Radiation to the breast alone only decreases your immune system a little bit. But if radiation comes on the heels of chemotherapy, surgery, anesthesia, and all of the stress of living with uncertainty, then it is normal to feel very run down. Many times people say my immune system is down as a way of speaking. But the main thing is that you have been through so much, your life has been disrupted and derailed. You have to stop for a bit, give yourself credit for all that you have been through, and take some time out to heal and recover. Keep in mind that it takes time to recover. And progress may not feel steady. You may have ups and downs. Some days you may feel like you are losing ground. But overall, the goal is to head in the right direction, toward a new sense of normal, and a life that you find meaningful and joyful again. At that point, hopefully you will be able to have more fun and a greater sense of spontaneity.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2001, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Stress and Your Immune System. Mitch Golant, Ph.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions on how stress affects your treatment, and what you can do to boost your immune system.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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