Simple Solutions for Some of Chemo's Side Effects
Nausea: When they give you chemo, they now include a anti nausea compound to keep your nausea contained. You can still feel it but you just do not ever seem to actually get sick. I no longer recieve premeds. But I rarely have nausea. Ginger became a new staple in my diet whether it was ginger ale, cut up ginger sautéed into my dishes or dried ginger. Another favorite of mine is a creative custom mix of spices including ginger, turmeric (also good for fighting cancer), I add regularly of my custom tea mixes. The end result is similar to a Spiced Chiai Latte. Peppermint also became a daily routine to my diet and to this day I highly promote my BurrBearry Peppermintea and Serendipitea Teas. They have wonderful aromas contain several cancer fighting agents.
Heavy body: Many of your strong chemo’s literally weigh you down. Sometimes just lifting an arm up from your side can be a daunting task. This is one area I still have yet to find a great solution for. You may find yourself in a constant resting state and less likely to get up and around. Exercise is important to maintain a positive wellbeing and continued strength through the chemo process. The rest is good but don’t let it take over your life. I did find that Swimming made me feel light and the exercise was easier than taking a walk around the block Walking is highly recommended for blood flow and blood rejuvenation. The next best thing was mediation which improved my attitude and stress.
Total Hair Loss: This has its good points and bad. During hair loss it becomes extremely uncomfortable. For me it actually felt like needles were stabbing me all over my body during hair loss and when the hair started growing back. Wearing a wig was actually more painful than the site of a bald head. I wore a soft scarf and a lightweight cotton hat throughout my baldness. I worked on my makeup daily, drawing in eyebrow and using eyeliner to give the illusion of eyelashes. I tried to look my best. Someone would say you look great and it would make you feel great.
One day during a hot summer month I was at work when I accidently whipped my brow away with my hand. I turned to my coworker and excused myself to go redraw my brow on. She looked at me very closely and was in shock that I had no eyebrows. I just laughed and said you have been right next to me every day. I haven't had hair for over 6 months.
Ok so the good points… No need to shave, no need for shampoo, curling irons, blow dryers. Think of how much money and time you save. Some may save as much as an hour or more every day.
Gray Hair. Taxol not only keeps the hair on your head thin but also grey to even white. While I was researching my deficiencies from my blood work I stumbles on deficiencies of B12, D3 and Biotin contribute to early grey. What little hair I have now has been very white. I started taking theses vitamins a few months ago (April 2016) and I now actually have color and more hair growth.
Dehydration: Dehydration is very scary and you could go into a comma. Not all doctors will see it right away because the symptom are similar to heart attacks. The very first designed solution for dehydration was a mix of water salt and sugar mix intravenously injection by a make drip which is still used as the quickest solution. But prevention is a far smarter solution. Prior any chemo whether by pill or infusions try drinking at least 32 oz to 40 oz of water. More is better. After chemo or many of the test administered during your treatments it’s a good idea to drink allot of water to clear you body of the harsh and toxic chemicals.
Diarrhea and Constipation: Many patient experience extreme diarrhea and constipation from chemo. Doctors and nurses prescribe all sorts of laxatives available in your local drug store. I found that although they help the cause they sometimes cause other side effects. There are many foods that are healthy solutions to both constipation and diarrhea. For instance Bananas (perbiotics) and Yogurt (probiotics) made from goats are a good source for both diarrhea and constipation. Eat high in fiber foods and less foods that cause gas.
I walked into my bathroom christmas morning and to my surprise my toilet has been ringed with a Squatty Potty. Although I’m not thrilled with an added item to clean, nor do I care for the looks, I have to admit it really works. This is especially good for those who struggle with pelvic pain, many cancers especially colon cancer, hemorrhoids and/or have diarrhea and constipation issues. Watch the Video
Add Vitamin Supplements But pay attention to your blood work and look for deficiencies. Your deficiencies will be greater and less able to replenish from the chemo strain. Mine are often the B’s like folic acid or b6 and b12. I add these vitamin supplements to create balance. My body depletes them quickly and I can eat only so much. A friend said if you ate good food all the time you would not need vitamins. Unfortunately chemicals used to kill disease are less likely to encourage rejuvenation for total wellness. We sometimes need a little extra help. So it’s a good idea to review blood work and any issues that show up during treatments.
One vitamin that is somewhat hard to eat in the North country is vitamin D which we get from sunshine beneficial UVB rays. Averaging 65 sunny days out of 360 is considered a D deficiency location. D3 is found in oily fish and cod liver oil, not high on my favorite food list. I take a liquid Vitamin D during the winter months. Vitamin D is important for maintaining calcium and phosphate levels for bone formation, and allowing proper functioning of parathyroid hormone. Low levels of this hormone can produce fatigue, muscle pain and weakness, weight gain, poor sleep and concentration and bone diseases.
Low vitamin D levels have been implicated in forms of cancer, high-blood pressure and autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis. Windows do not protect us from harmful UVA rays, but they block out beneficial UVB rays. It has long been known that the incidence of multiple sclerosis is much lower at the equator which can be explained by the higher levels of UVB and light clothing worn that combine to elevate vitamin D3 levels.
Work with your doctor or nurse on what would be most alternative beneficial like diet, vitamins and exercise during you treatments for a better experience through a tough experience.
More Side Effects... More Solutions
Shortness of Breath: This is a condition that usually is a side effect of many medications other than chemotherapy. I use simple breathing techniques of which I pay attention of every breath I take. Mediation and light exercise like walking will also help with the shortness of breath by stimulationbetter blood circulation. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol and smoking. Eat healthy heart and blood flowing foods. Juicing is a great way to get all those natural nutrients. I highly recommend a good juicer and/or blender. Personally I went with the Magic Bullet and the NutriBullet.
Neurological issues: Cancer can cause nerve pain and nerve damage in multiple ways. In some instances, cancerous masses may push against or crush nerves. In other cases, certain types of cancer may result in nutritional deficiencies that affect nerve function. Additionally, some types of chemotherapy and radiation may produce nerve pain and nerve damage. B vitamins should be considered through out the chemotheraphy process. Check your blood test regularly to get a good handle on what vitamins you need. I take Folic Acid and 200mg B6 daily and watch my blood test regularly.
Acute and chronic pain. I was afraid to step out of the house in fear I would have an attack. I have since incorporated some new healthier practices in my life to keep my pain at a minimal impact. It's more than one solution. It will take many of the list and maybe all to reduce pain.
Keep positive attitude and live in the moment.
Eliminate stress. Change your life style. Simplify your schedule. Get organized. Take a vacation.
Eat and drink healthy. A diet that includes a variety of foods provides the right mix of nutrients and antioxitants keep your body working correctly. Example: Cherries contain natural melatonin, which is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps “cool down” excess inflammation and associated oxidative stress. Cherries also plays a vital role in sleep and bodily regeneration.
If you can watch your blood work it’s a good idea to balance your vitamins to keep blood flow smooth and in proper working order.
Walking and exercise (join the YMCA especially if you live up north).
Meditation and learn breathing exercises.
Get enough sleep.
If all else fails try some cookies and milk.
The more you medicate the worse the pain.
Pain can be extreme and totally immobilizing and which case medications maybe required. Finding the right drug can be challenging. More on this later.
Food is your medicine: There has been a lot of conversations on diet through the years. Which is the right one for me or even should I be on one. Loss of appetite is a common issue for many on chemotherapy and many medications. Chemo treatments can cause nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. These side effects are caused by the destruction of rapidly dividing cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.
To keep yourself healthy you must eat. I’ll never forget what one of my favorite doctor said under breath “it's not the cancer that kills the patient it’s the starvation that kills the patient.” So we must encourage healthy eating and healthy living though our treatments. I have found that if I eat smaller meals often I have more energy and suppress my nausea to some degree. I also try to keep a constant intake of fluids by my side.
It is suggested and I agree that prior chemo treatments a low fat diets is best. Next 24 hrs go heavy on liquids and avoid high fats and fried foods. Lots of water and I like to add lemon balm leaves to lessen anxiety. Keep your mouth clean and well dehydrated to discourage dried mouth and mouth ulcer formation. My new favorite, especially for anyone that is dealing with throat cancer, is a teaspoon of both baking soda and salt mixed with 1oz of water rinse and spit. Also avoid extremely hot or cold liquids and foods that will only irritate your mouth. Puréed or smaller pieces food at room temperature or slightly chilled are much more soothing for your mouth and digestive track. Drink fluids between meals instead of during. Eat at regular times and in-between meal and add high protein supplements like nutrition supplements Orgain.
If you are experiencing weight loss ... Add cream and or butter to your soups and cooked vegetables. Salt water rinse will help clear your taste buds to encourage food intake. Do not incorporate to much salt in your diet. Salt could increase water retention especially while on chemo's that have premeds. This is a good time to try new foods and add new seasonings to perk up your taste buds. Unpleasant taste sometimes occur and are associated with treatment and more so pain medications. Save your favorite foods for when you are well.
I'm fortunate to have have some very healthy free range chickens. Their fresh eggs supply us with a great source of protein.. I also have a desire for flaxseeds mixed in cottage cheese accompanied by leafy green salads mixes loaded with raisins, nuts, chia seeds, tomatoes, blueberries, garlic and cheese croutons, dressed in sweet olive oil and vinegar dressing.
Neutropenia: a low white blood count is a common complication. Chemo destroys good cells such as white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets produced in the bone marrow. Infections can occur as a complication of neutropenia. They occur most often in the mucous membranes, such as the inside of the mouth and the skin. It can last up to seven days following treatments avoid crowds, stay away from RAW fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood which contain bacteria’s.
Basic rule: butter, eggs, pasta, chicken breast, fresh vegetables etc must be cooked. No raw food. Now I love salads so I thoroughly wash my leafy greens but if I’m feeling a little ill and run down I generally stick to a cooked meal.