How to Help Manage Side Effects of Your Cancer Treatment
When you are fighting cancer, the treatments that your doctor may prescribe can be tough on your body
Chemotherapy works to destroy cells that divide rapidly. As they are killing cancer cells, they are often destroying healthy cells too. This damage to healthy cells can lead to side effects such as infection, nausea, and fatigue.Side effects can vary in intensity depending on the type of chemotherapy drug. Fatigue is the most common side effect that people fighting cancer experience. It is important to keep your doctors in the know.
It is a good idea to keep a journal of what you are experiencing so your doctor can offer help and guidance.
Some things to jot down to discuss with your doctor would be:
- the date of when the side effect started
- how long it lasts
- how intense is it
- are your normal activities being affected by the side effect
- any questions that you may have that pop-up
Chemotherapy can lower the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in your body. It is important to be diligent about lowering your risks for infection. Avoiding close contact with people who have colds, washing your hands regularly, proper wound care.
Nausea can be ever present during chemotherapy, your doctor will prescribe anti-nausea medication but there are also some things that you can do to help alleviate the symptom. Make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated. Avoid eating big meals, have smaller meals throughout the day. Eat and drink slowly. Also you may want to avoid heavily seasoned, fried, or sweet foods as the smell may cause more nausea.
Fatigue is almost inevitable with cancer treatment but it is important to discuss this with your oncologist. It is important to listen to your body and save your energy. Ask family and friends for help with difficult or strenuous tasks. Take short naps or rest throughout the day. Try to go for short walks (if it makes sense for you) as activity will help to alleviate fatigue.
As you go through your treatments, we are here to help. Often times, a place where you can share your questions and concerns can provide strength and lessen stress. Dr. Ong is committed to helping you develop strategies for coping with treatment and its side effects.