Radiation Burns Cancer Patient

by Myra Charleston

 Editors' Note:  We are withholding the name of this cancer patient at her request due to the nature of the photos in this article.  Please note that "Mrs. X" is fair skinned and had a very adverse reaction to the radiation.  Most radiation patients do not experience burns to this extent during radiation therapy.  This article is very graphic intensive, please allow time for photos to come up.

After finding a pea-sized lump in her breast, this 65-year-old Oregon lady went through a whirlwind of doctors’ visits and treatments.  Her July surgery found a cancerous lump less than a centimeter across; but, fortunately; the 16 lymph nodes removed were cancer cell free.  As a precaution, the surgeon recommended radiation therapy.  

Starting in the latter part of September 2000, she received radiation therapy daily Monday through Friday for two weeks.  “By the second week the breast was burned black – there was actually soot,” Mrs. X reported.  “When I showered in the mornings, the shower pads were turned charcoal.”  After having a week off from the radiation therapy, she returned for her second set of treatments.   The technician did not like the way her skin was looking and asked the doctor on call to take a look at her.  Despite the half dollar sized wound under her arm, swollen breast and the burned skin, he ordered the treatments to continue.  On October 26th, a Thursday, she told the technician she would not be in for the final treatment in that set because she had an appointment with her surgeon.  By this time the skin was raw under the breast and arm, with open wounds in several areas.  Mrs. X was unable to sleep and in constant pain.   When her doctor saw the wounds, he was horrified and ordered the treatments be discontinued.  In the course of her visit, the surgeon recommended that she try emu oil for the burns.  Earlier that same day her husband had received the same advice from a clerk at the local pharmacy.  The following is a pictorial documentation of her wound care results with emu oil.

This photograph was taken October 30, 2000, prior to the use of emu oil.  Notice how pale the skin normally is on the arm and above the breast.  The top layer of skin is burned off - in the upper right of the photograph you can still see the charred remains of skin after Mrs. X has showered off the soot.  

Unable to wear a bra because of the raw skin and in constant pain, the only way to achieve any comfort was to keep moist Telfa pads under the breast.  For a more detailed view, and to see the charred areas a little better, click on the photo.  This is a large photograph and will take some time to come up.

 

Also taken on October 30, 2000, this view of Mrs. X's left breast shows the incisions made during her July surgery, the huge burned areas and some of the "hot spots" that developed blisters which later burst and became open wounds.  

The large open wound directly under her arm started out as a half dollar sized wound, and got worse when the doctor on call ordered a continuation of the radiation treatments.   Mrs. X tells us that the breast was so swollen, it actually gained a cup size.  The three "hot spots" in the lower part of the picture are outlined below.

 

 

Radiation - High Cascade - close up of wounds and blister -Oct30-2.jpg (12593 bytes)Radiation - High Cascade - Close up of under arm wound, Oct. 30, 2000.jpg (24408 bytes)Click on the picture to the left to view an enlargement detailing three "hot spots" in various stages of development.  Pay special attention to the blister in the center.  Click on the picture to the right to view an enlargement detailing the wound under the arm.  

With her husbands' assistance, Mrs. X started using emu oil on her burns on November 3, 2000.  Unable to touch the breast without pain, the creamy emu oil was initially applied to Mrs. X's breast by her husband using a tongue depressor  (with her holding her breath as he went over some areas).  Later applications were made by spreading emu oil on a Telfa Pad and then placing the pad on the burn area.   This was done three or four times a day.  The pictures below outline the treatment results.

The next three photographs detailing the wounds on the underside of the breast and on the area between the breast and waist were taken on November 7, 2000.  

At the time these photographs were taken, Mr. X had been applying Emu oil as outlined above three or four times a day for four days to his wife's burns.   

Note the charred, raw skin and deep wounds displayed Radiation - High Cascade - Under Breast View 3Nov. 7, 2000.jpg (83761 bytes) same day, the camera angle is slightly different in each to better detail the skin damage.  Click on the picture to the right to view a close up of the raw area between the breast and waist.  The photo below left details the burn area underneath the breast.  

Up to this point Mrs. X had been unable to sleep due to the Radiation - High Cascade - Under Breast View 2Nov. 7, 2000.jpg (84851 bytes)agony.  Anything touching the breast hurt.  The areas where skin touched skin, such as under the arm or under the breast, were in constant pain.  According to Mrs. X,  "The second night after applying emu oil only 2 days, three or four treatments per day, I was able to get some well needed sleep."  

 

By November 10, 2000, when these photos were taken, there had been marked improvement.  According to Mrs. X, the emu oil seemed to help bring the "heat" out of the breast.  Deep burn wounds healed from the inside out.   Click on the photo to see a detailed enlargement.

Most of the raw, red areas shown in the October 30 photos were now pink new skin.  Only the deepest wounds were still raw.  The large raw area directly underneath the arm now has skin, although the charred rough areas are still visible.  The large, sideways keyhole shaped red area is where the blister shown in the November 30th photographs has grown larger and burst.  Note the red area on the underside of the breast, below the burst blister area.

RadiationNov10-1b.jpg (20795 bytes)The area with the three "hot spots" progressed.   The large blister continued to grow until it finally ruptured, making a red, raw, sideways keyhole shape.  Click on the picture to the left to see an enlargement of the wound.  The smaller wound to the left is nearly healed, but because it was so deep is still a little bit raw.

These pictures were taken on November 15, 2000, 12 days after Mrs. X started using emu oil on her radiation burns.  

The photo to the left was taken at an angle to show the underside of the breast, which is almost completely healed.  The white scar is all that is left of the red area on the underside of the breast shown in the photo taken on November 10.  The keyhole shaped wound has undergone significant healing, as shown in the enlargement below. 

 

As you can see from the enlargement to the right, the "hot spot" area that progressed from a blister to become a red, raw, sideways keyhole shape has made considerable progress towards healing.  Most of the area is now pink new skin, with some areas still scabbed over.  The deep wound to its' left still has a slight pink discoloration, but is healed.  The area to the right (see larger photo) is healed, but the skin is discolored.

 

The underside of the breast has been very slow to heal due to the moist environment.  

This area remains discolored from the radiation burns, but is almost completely healed.  New pink skin is evident with only a couple of "tender" spots left to heal on the underside of the breast.   The area between the breast and the waist is completely healed.

 

 

 

The only evidence of the raw underarm wounds pictured in the October 30 photos are the scars outlining the radiation burn area and the brown skin discoloration where the deep wound was located.  As you can see from this photo, the edges of the radiation burns are still very obvious, although no longer painful.  "At this point I could rub it (the emu oil) on myself" she tells us.

It has now been two years since Mrs. X underwent cancer surgery and radiation therapy.  She has had no recurrence of the cancer.   Regarding emu oil, she tells us that she will never be without it in her home, though she hopes she never needs it for the same reason that she did originally.  She tells us that "We were happy that the bottle of emu oil was a little on the creamy side." because it was easier to apply with the tongue depressor.  "We tell everyone who asks how wonderful it is" says Mrs. X.  

We want to thank High Cascade Premier Enterprises, Ltd. for sharing this story lead with us and a very special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. X for caring enough to take photos and then share them with us.  

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        Emu's Zine does not diagnose, prescribe or dispense medical advice.  We report and attempt to educate the public about the possible health benefits derived through the use of emu oil based products and consumption of low cholesterol, low fat emu meat.   This site contains personal testimonies and professional observations.   We encourage people to contact their family physicians regarding any health problems they may have for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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