For the past 50 years, chemotherapy has played a crucial role in the ongoing battle against cancer, providing doctors and oncologists with a means to fight cancer at the cellular level. While chemotherapy saves lives, it comes with a downside in that there are numerous side effects. These vary considerably by the type of chemotherapy, but many cancer patients experience common things such as nausea and hair loss. Here are 10 helpful tips suggested by other cancer survivors on how to be a chemotherapy warrior.
- Cover in Style. Embrace your baldness in your own unique way. For some people, this means buying a high quality wig before or during chemotherapy treatment, while others pick out beautiful scarves and headwear, rocking their baldness with chic fashion statements.
- Fashion. Many patients find it empowering to let their inner fashion diva shine through while undergoing treatment. For example, wearing cute sporty leggings with a warm cashmere sweater can make you feel more positive than baggy sweatpants and a hoody. That is not to say the latter is not alright – you simply have to wear what works best for you – emotionally and physically.
- Pamper Your Skin. Pay extra attention to your skin because chemotherapy can cause it to dry out. Pamper yourself by rubbing a moisturizing body lotion on your skin and generously apply lip balm to your lips. Believe it or not, although you will experience increased dryness, chemotherapy strips the toxins from the skin, thereby leaving it as smooth as a baby’s bottom!
- Adapt Your Diet. Many patients experience weight gain because the drugs and steroids can wreak havoc on the metabolism. Adapt your diet as necessary to deal with weight gain, but don’t worry too much about counting calories. Some people find that it helps to avoid food with hormones or decide to follow a vegan diet, but you need to embrace a trial-and-error philosophy and find out what works best for you.
- Eat Several Meals a Day. Eating five small meals a day will help counteract nausea. A banana is a good food to eat if you are feeling queasy, as is ginger, which can be eaten raw, in the form of ginger ale, tea or candy. This Ginger Chew candy is one of our favorite ways to calm nausea. If you are struggling with nausea, ask your doctor to prescribe an anti nausea medication.
- Exercise. Even though it might feel like the last thing you want to do, mild exercise can help. Going for a short walk releases oxygen and endorphins that boost recovery.
- Knowledge. Educate yourself about your specific chemotherapy regimen before undergoing treatment, so you know what you can expect. It is fine to ask your medical team questions or do research yourself on reputable online websites, but don’t get overwhelmed by the details.
- Know Your Limits. Learn how to say yes, no, and ask for help when you need it. You may find that well-meaning friends want to visit when you aren’t up to it – or conversely, nobody has suggested stopping by when you could really use the support. Don’t be afraid to voice your needs and accept help when it is offered, such as when a caring neighbor offers to pick up a few groceries at the store.
- Positivity. Surround yourself with love by spending time with generally upbeat and supportive people rather than naysayers. Your spouse, family, and genuine friends won’t care what you look like because they love you and want to help you get through this trying time in any way they can.
- Future Focused. Look forward to a cancer-free future, not backwards to your diagnosis. That means not wasting time bemoaning your hair loss and viewing each completed therapy session as one step closer to getting healthier and strong. Celebrate how many chemotherapy infusions you already have under your belt rather than dwelling on how many more you must endure.
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