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An Open Letter to My Radiation Therapists After Breast Cancer Treatment

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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

Thinkstock photo by Jupiterimages

Originally published: September 14, 2017
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