There are few things more difficult to hear than finding out yourself or one of your loved ones has cancer. It can be very difficult to handle and coping begins almost immediately upon hearing it.
If you or someone you know is told they have cancer and will need chemotherapy, it’s important to be sensitive to such information and provide cancer sufferers with the appropriate support.
Your friend or family member will undoubtedly be handling the news in their own unique way, but it can still be incredibly difficult to process and manage on a day-to-day basis. Sensitivity is paramount and a great degree of support will go a long way in helping your friend or family member in dealing with not only their grief and uncertainty but the pain and isolation which will result from their chemotherapeutic treatments. Here’s a brief guide to the most common side effects of chemotherapy, and how patients can manage their own side effects and families can assist.
There are numerous side effects associate with starting chemotherapy, but not every side effect is as common as the next. For instance, nausea and vomiting are usually seen as the most common, but patients can also experience blood clotting and heart problems as well. Nausea and vomiting are the most common as the body must acclimate to the treatment it receives when the chemotherapy first starts.
The purpose of radiation is to kill and suppress cancer, but the discomfort associated with treatment can be very difficult to manage. Rapid heartbeat and other heart problems can occur as the blood can thicken or thin depending on the individual’s response to the therapy. Also common is depression and anxiety; chemicals in the brain can often be thrown out of balance, which can lead to a poor mental state.
Managing the Side Effects of Chemotherapeutics
There is a multitude of side effects associated with chemotherapy and management is the best strategy. There are some medications that can help manage the more common symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and numbness.
If you or a loved one is experiencing nausea while taking chemotherapy, experts recommend that they eat five or six small meals per day, rather than three large ones. Eating less throughout the day can help the digestive system more easily process food and eating multiple times a day will stave off feelings of hunger which might arise in between larger meals. Exercise and activity may also help manage fatigue; it may be difficult, but patients are often told to go for a short walk or perform a simple, physical task.
It’s also recommended that chemo patients write down key dates, names, and appointments, that way the effects chemotherapeutics have on the brain are mitigated, minimising the chance of forgetting anything essential. There are several medications patients can take for other symptoms too, such as heart problems. It’s always best to consult with a doctor before taking new medications, however.
There are also services that may be appropriate for those going through chemotherapy. OSAN has a range of In-Home care and Disability housing options for those going through chemotherapy and other medical emergencies. They also boast a range of Allied health options to help those who are undergoing therapy and can help make their treatments as comfortable and pain-free as possible.