Chemotherapy, the very word instills fear in many hearts. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Education is a vital key in your chemotherapy treatment.
First you need to find out what the protocol (treatment plan) is for your particular type of cancer. There are as many different protocols as there are types of cancers. Each protocol involves specific cancer treating drugs and each drug has different side effects. Ask your doctor to go over this list with you and the possible side effects.
Now that you know the possible side effects you can readily prepare for the changes the chemotherapy is going to make in your life.
You’re going to be extra tired in the upcoming months so plan to get plenty of rest. Rest is very healing and will help you battle even the worst of the side effects. Fatigue is a normal side effect so you may need to plan for some extra help around the house, enlist a trusted friend or family member to help keep things functioning while you’re resting up after treatments.
Your diet is going to be affected as well. You may find that foods you normally love no longer sound or even taste appealing to you. You may need to eat smaller meals more frequently instead of 3 meals a day, you may need 6 small meals per day. This may be more trial and error beforehand but as your treatment progresses you’ll find the foods that your body can tolerate and then you can stock up on them. Spicy foods seem to be especially troubling during this time. Most people prefer more bland foods such as yogurts, avocados and other simple foods. Crackers, toast and foods that help to combat nausea are often the best choices during this time. Don’t worry, you’ll be back and eating your favorite foods in no time.
Hair loss is another unfortunate side effect of many chemotherapy treatments. If you’re a woman this can be especially troubling. If you have a trusted friend ask them to go wig shopping with you or take your spouse or even your kids. Make a day of it and do it before you begin to lose your hair so you can get used to it. You can also have on hand some pretty scarves to wear on your head. If you haven’t started treatment yet you could even go in to a salon and donate your hair to locks of love in honor of yourself.
Germ warfare is another great concern of chemotherapy patients. You immune system will be lowered drastically during treatment and you don’t want to be exposed to anything if you can help it. Make a plan. If you must go out in public wear a mask. Send a trusted friend on your errands in lieu of going yourself. Learn to plan around the days when your undergoing treatment and stay home with friends and family during that time.
You may need to put a sign on your door explaining that due to your low blood counts you’re not taking visitors for a week or if you are up to visitors asking those with cold or flu symptoms to go home and call you instead. Your health is the most important thing here and if someone is offended remember, they’ll get over it. Take care of you first and foremost.
Also be sure to avoid crowds and day care centers during this time to help prevent any germ infestations from making you ill. You don’t need to completely isolate yourself but be sure to use common sense and make sure to wash your hands frequently as well.
If you’re working you’ll want to talk to your supervisor and let them know what is going on. Perhaps you can reduce your hours, take a leave of absence or even work from home during treatment and low blood count times. Whatever you decide, leave your options open and don’t make any sudden decisions.
Keep a positive mental attitude telling yourself that you’ll feel much better once this is over. Go forth with the attitude that you can do this and get through it no matter how rough the going gets. Don’t let the cancer rule you, rather rule the cancer. Positive mental attitude will go far in your treatment.
Expect to have some bad days, don’t dwell on them but pick yourself up and keep going. You’re going to come out the other side shining and healthy.