How To Get Through Chemotherapy: 10 Tips
Chemotherapy(Chemo) is, unfortunately, a word with which many adults in the United States are familiar. For the most part, chemotherapy is a treatment that is associated with cancer and is identified as a treatment that induces nausea and causes hair loss among other side effects.
Getting through chemotherapy can be a particularly challenging aspect of cancer treatment. Here are 10 tips those experiencing chemo find helpful.
1. Preventing hair loss
Having chemo doesn’t always mean losing all your hair. If you’re willing to sit for hours with an ice-cold cap on your head you might be able to minimise your hair loss with cold-cap treatment, so ask your doctor if it’s an option. With cold-cap your hair can also grow back faster because it doesn’t have to grow from below the root.
2. Pack items that will keep you comfortable and busy.
Many treatment centers will allow you to bring your lunch and light snacks. You can bring books or an e-reader, electronic devices, portable CD or DVD player, needlework — whatever you like to do. We also suggest you bring lip balm and skin moisturizer, because air in treatment centers can get very dry..
3. Cool your mouth
Most chemo wards should have popsicles in the freezer, or at the very least, some ice cubes. Sucking on something icy while receiving your chemo is thought to reduce the likelihood of developing nasty mouth sores.
4. Hydrate the day before (and the day after).
Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water, and any non-alcoholic non-caffeinated beverages that you like. On the day before, it prepares your body for the dehydrating effects of treatment. On the day after, it helps to flush the chemo meds out of your system.
5. Going for the chop
If you decide against cold-cap therapy, don’t shave your head as soon as you find out you’re going to have chemo. Consider cutting it short before the treatment starts then shave when it starts falling out (usually two-three weeks after your first chemo session) to minimise the shock of going bald.
6. Wig shopping
Don’t buy all your wigs before you start chemo – they’ll look completely different once you lose your hair and they can be very expensive.
Take all the anti-sickness medication your oncologist prescribes but avoid the anti-sickness bands you can buy at the chemist. They’re great for anti-sickness but can squeeze and damage the veins around the wrist if you wear them for too long.
8. Eat well and maintain your body weight.
Going through chemotherapy isn’t the time to go on a diet! Your goal should be not to either lose or gain 10 percent of your body weight. A dietitian can help you eat well and stay as strong as you can, or guide you if you have special dietary needs.
9. Wear comfortable clothes.
Wear layers and loose-fitting clothes that are easy to work with if you need to go to the bathroom. If your treatment requires that you use a port, a small device implanted under your skin that allows more direct access to your veins, wear clothing that permits easy access to it.
10. Use a weighted blanket to get enough sleep.
Sleep sleep sleep – and avoid technology. The first few nights of each treatment can feel like the worst hangover combined with the worst migraine in history so the more sleep you can get, the better. Weighted blanket is a hot sleep product which will help people get better sleep.
Weighted blankets work on the principle of Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS). When the blanket covers the body, the effect is similar to getting a massage or firm touch, petting animals and swaddling, as the pressure exerted on the body has psychological and physical effects. The pressure exerted from the blanket calm the nerves and soothes your body which leads to relax mind and a good night of sleep. The pressure also appear to be associated with an immune system boost, another major benefit for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Some experts even think that deep-touch pressure causes an increased production and potency of the body’s natural “killer cells” that fight off bacteria, viruses, and—you guessed it—cancer cells.
Besides, the blankets are also associated with reduced anxiety, and anxiety is another thing cancer patients may struggle with during treatment and even afterward, when the fear of recurrence arises. It also appears to decrease the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol.