An Open Letter to My Radiation Therapists After Breast Cancer Treatment

Dear folks at radiation therapy,

I’m done! I moved a crabby, wounded animal on my first week of treatment through to feeling a glimmer of joy today that this cancer business is done… for now.

You have helped me these past four weeks. Thank you.

I always presumed competence, but it was your kindness and humanity that set you apart.

Here are the small things that meant the world to me:

1. Eye contact, introductions and smiles.

2. The offer of a warm blanket.

3. Chit chat — about the weather, color of my nail polish, my family, plans for the day.

4. Helping me on and off the table.

5. Covering me up as much as possible.

6. Telling me what you were doing as you went along. (This lessened anxiety, a lot).

7. Your respectful treatment of my husband and son when they came in.

8. Being open to answering my questions. Prompting me to ask questions. Saying, “What questions do you have” instead of “Do you have any questions?”

9. A reassuring hand on me.

10. Not appearing rushed, even if you were.

11. Your demonstrated compassion — empathy for fatigue, burning, itching, how crappy this whole experience is.

I am grateful for all those so-called little things. I think medicine can cure (sometimes), but it is love that actually heals us patients.

Please keep doing these things, even if the system tells you otherwise. They matter.

Sue Robins

(Shared with the radiation therapists on my unit at the cancer agency, and their manager, on my last day of treatment.  Although I’m quick to provide “constructive feedback,” I also strongly believe in saying thank you, too).  

This post was previously published on

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Jupiterimages

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Breast Cancer

hand holding apple

An Apple a Day: Breast Cancer, Research and Being Proactive

About six months ago, I got a letter from my health care provider asking me to participate in a study. They’d chosen me, the letter said, because my breasts had a significant amount of dense tissue, and therefore, I had a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer. I stared at the paper and [...]
Kirstin Pretorius Breast Cancer Feature

Surprised by Cancer, Mom Shares Photo and Powerful Reminder Following Diagnosis

The saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and when you look at the photo of Kirstin Pretorius and her husband Maurice celebrating their 10-year wedding anniversary, there are probably more than a thousand positive words to say about it. But behind the glowing smiles and carefree demeanor, Pretorius was living with breast [...]
Jessica Sliwerski with family

What I Learned After Having a Baby and Breast Cancer in the Same Year

A month ago, my husband and I were having dinner at Table 87, our favorite Brooklyn pizza joint. I held my babbling 5-month-old baby girl on my lap, kissing her between sips of wine. I was fresh off a whirlwind business trip that had gone exceedingly well. My husband was excited about a potential job opportunity [...]

A Thank You Letter to My Badass Breast Cancer Plastic Surgeon

Dear Dr. C, Late last night while I was trying to sleep, an entire 13-page letter to you swirled around in my head. Feeling almost commanded, I got up and wrote it all down. I was too tired to write 13 pages  —  don’t worry , I condensed it into three max. Some of it is [...]