Managing Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Cancer treatment can help the patient live longer or completely get rid of the disease. But the medications cause side effects that impact the life of the patient, during and after the treatment. Some chemotherapy drugs sometimes lead to long-term side effects that can occur years after, heart disease related to 5-FU for instance. But you do not have to let the adverse reactions make your life miserable; you need to and can fight back to improve your life. Here are some tips which can help you cope with the cancer and the side effects of the treatment:

Mind Power – The first thing you need to do as a cancer patient is to use your mind power to remain positive regardless. Take a sheet of paper, write your goal, and repeat it many times during the day, regardless of what the diagnosis and prognosis say. Repeat your affirmation in presence tense. For instance, you can say: I am grateful I become cancer free. I look and feel good.

Hair loss from chemotherapy – to reduce the appearance of the loss of hair, you can do haircut shorter and thinner than usual; this also allows a better cooling of the scalp. Also use mild or non-irritating shampoos, and avoid the following:

• Perming • Dyeing
• Bleaching • Hair dryer

Nausea and vomiting – the following steps can help you reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy:

  • Rest after meal
  • Take ginger supplement
  • Take Cannabis extract if it is legal in your state
  • Avoid eating big and fatty meals; split your main meals
  • Eat in small amounts slowly and chewing well before swallowing
  • Avoid drinking during meals, but may do so before and after, in moderate quantity
  • Take anti-nausea/ anti-emetic medications, if necessary, as recommended by your doctor
  • Drink plenty of liquid (water, broth, juice) throughout the day to avoid dehydration and dry mouth
  • Avoid spicy or sweet foods which could increase the feeling of disgust, and irritate your stomach.

Loss of Sense of Taste – metallic or other bad taste in the mouth is associated with most anti-cancer drugs and one of the most common chemotherapy side effects. The loss of tastemay be permanent or temporary, and can lead to a change in eating habits, mostly decreased appetite. But most patients regain their sense of tasteonce the treatment is completed. 

To reduce this problem, you can:

  • Suck menthol sugar-free candies or rinse your mouth with lemon
  • Brush your teeth after every meal. Flossing can be good but avoid cutting or bleeding
  • Drink bitter tea; dandelion tea can be effective.
  • Eat lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Juicing them in a power juicer or else is also great.

Chemotherapy  induced diarrhea this  is a common problem among patients with advanced cancer. The cancer treatment depletes the body of many important nutritional elements. Diarrhea can worsen the situation and lead to significant morbidity and mortality.

Here a few tips to cope with diarrhea caused by chemotherapy:

  • Add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt in your water, many times a day (it does not increase blood pressure)
  • Avoid low-quality foods – prefer healthy foods such as quinoa, organic carrots, bananas and hemp. You can also take food supplement such as moringa, chaga extract, and chia seed.
  • Drink large quantities (at least 2 liters) of water per day; fresh fruits or cruciferous vegetables (non-GMO) juice is ideal.
  • Avoid fast foods, dairy products, refined sugar (and products that contain it such as Boost and Ensure)
  • Tell your doctor if diarrhea lasts or becomes severe; this can lead to dehydration, and possibly fetal consequence.

Chemotherapy-induced  constipation– many chemotherapy drugs damage the intestinal wall, causing constipation in some patients. The condition usually does disappear after the chemotherapy is completed, but you can take steps to have normal bowel movements during the cancer treatment:

  • Do minor exercise such as fast working if approved by your doctor
  • Avoid dairy products which can lead or worsen the constipation
  • Eat fiber-rich foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grain (quinoa, oat…)
  • Drink large quantities (at least 2 liters) of water per day; fresh fruits or cruciferous vegetables (non-GMO) juice is ideal.
  • Avoid taking a laxative without medical advice. This should be the last resort when all other means do not work.

Tiredness or Cancer  related fatigue  – this is one of the most common side effects experienced by patients during the cancer treatment. It is very difficult for a cancer patient do not complain about fatigue or tiredness during the therapy. Not only the disease causes the condition but also does the chemotherapy. Here some tips that can help:

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Involve in sexual activity moderately
  • Adapt your business (delegate or split in the day the difficult tasks)
  • Take a nap after meals or during the day
  • Do regular physical activity such fast working if possible
  • Talk to the healthcare team if the problem is serious.

Mouth Sores   Chemotherapy  can irritate the mouth, throat, and rarely the esophagus (burns, ulcers) and cause painful reactions such as canker sores. These reactions tend to be more severe when the chemotherapy is combined with radiation therapy to the head or neck.

But even during cancer treatment you can have a healthy mouth. Here are some tips that can help you prevent or cure these side effects:

  • Chew sugar-free gums
  • Suck on ice cubes if you have dry mouth
  • If you wear dentures, remove it at night before your last mouthwash
  • Avoid too spicy or acidic foods: lemon juice, salad dressing, mustard, and others
  • Brush your teeth with a soft brush before and after every meal, at least three times a day
  • Use sugar-free and fluoride-free toothpaste; the more natural, the better for your mouth
  • Use colloidal silver water or alcohol-free mouthwashes that will not irritate your oral mucus
  • Completely eliminate tobacco and alcohol, especially during and in the weeks after treatment

Note  : some cancer patients say they experience more ulcers in their mouth they drink Boost or Ensure, often recommended to cancer patients. So far, there is no study to prove it; do your own experience.

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