← Return to Heart and lung conditions post breast cancer radiation

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@colleenyoung

Hi @vickiekersch, it is known that some treatments (drugs and/or radiation) can cause heart or lung problems. The important thing is that you and your medical team are monitoring the issues that you have. It's a good thing that the blood clotting issue was discovered, for example. Do you also see a pulmonologist for the lung issues? Hopefully your oncologist, cardiologist and pulmonologist will work together to help you manage your health.

I'd like to invite @bowhunt1969 @jweisser @elvandi and @suki Into this discussion to see if they have any experiences to offer regarding heart or lung issues developing after breast cancer treatments.

Vickie, I know reading about these conditions is scary. Luckily there are some articles that offer tips of what you can do. I found a couple to get you started.
– Heart and breast cancer from Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/treatments-for-breast-cancer-may-harm-the-heart
– How breast cancer treatment can affect the lungs from MacMillan https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/breast-cancer/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/late-effects-of-breast-cancer-treatment/effects-on-the-lungs.html

The articles suggest that the best things you can do include:
– surveillance: continue to monitor the conditions
– exercise
– no smoking
– maintain a healthy body weight
– practice deep breathing exercises

How's your physical activity level? Have you ever done deep breathing exercises before? It does take practice. In my former life I was a French horn player, so breathing deeply comes naturally to me. So, I was surprised when my mom recently experienced a mild panic attack and she didn't know how to control her breathing. I've been working with her on it. I know of some resources that I can suggest if you'd like them. Let me know.

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Replies to "Hi @vickiekersch, it is known that some treatments (drugs and/or radiation) can cause heart or lung..."

Thank you for your response and information. I don’t have a pulmonologist following me yet, but thinking I need to get one. I definitely will read these articles you shared. I actually lead a very healthy lifestyle and follow a mostly semi-vegetarian/Mediterranean diet, but have difficulties with swallowing due to a 50% functioning esophagus from a spinal cord injury and no gallbladder so I don’t break down fats and carbs. Diet is probably the most difficult for me and the dieticians in the integrative oncology department worked with me for quite a long time. I can’t seem to keep on weight, I’m 105 with a BMI of 17-18, so they’re always worried about my weight. I’m on a few meds that suppress hunger so I’m supposed to “remember” to eat. I walk a lot, about 1 hour each night with my dog and on weekends, 2-3 hours per day. I used to hike local mountains and trails (live in AZ), but as my spinal cord injury and my lung and breathing got worse, I’ve had to bring that down a notch. I do practice deep breathing exercises, I work in behavioral mental health and teach it to many of my own clients (children in state custody) as part of a meditation practice. I’m also back in acupuncture. I just feel the breathing is getting worse and now finding the heart condition 4 years out of treatment scares me. I don’t know if it was an underlying hidden defect never identified when I was younger or if radiation treatment caused it. The cardiologist is pretty sure radiation caused it. My cardiologist is not with Mayo Clinic but I think I want to get a second opinion with a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and pulmonologist.

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