Getting a cancer diagnosis is not easy. For some, receiving treatment is even more frustrating to deal with as chemotherapy comes with many side effects.
Managing things like joint and muscle pain, hair loss, and the battle between work and social life can be tiresome. For some living with cancer, the changes can be so extreme that what some may consider a downgrade in lifestyle may be necessary in order to continue with treatment.
The things I learned from my ovarian cancer battle include diet and health supplements. Some things have worked well and others were a waste of time and money. However, I am grateful for the lessons learned.
Get the facts about cancer from a reliable source. People who have battled cancer that I have spoken to or read about may imply that doctors don’t know what they are talking about or give contradictory information. While this may be true in some cases, it’s best to supplement their orders with legitimate medical sites like the Mayo Clinic, teaching hospitals and universities. People like to share things they may have heard or read about from a source that’s unreliable or lacks the proper credentials. Some of these include accounts of people who denied or stopped traditional treatment, like chemotherapy or radiation, with great results like the cancer cells staying in remission for years. Although people may only want for you to have a speedy recovery, it is best to take this with a grain of salt as each cancer case is different.
Find a reasonable balance in daily life. We cannot go back in time and have basic needs like anyone else but sometimes chemotherapy and doctor visits may make us forget this. If possible, determine which days are not likely to present side effects brought on by chemotherapy. These days or weeks should be reserved for activities like visiting with friends, going to a movie or other recreational activity. Though the body is compromised, staying indoors for months at a time if a person is mobile and has some good days, may not be a great choice. Some cancer patients use a surgical mask when going into places that may have harmful elements. Many hospitals have disposable masks to give patients at no charge.
Eat balanced meals and take necessary vitamin supplements. Chemotherapy is known to attack red and white blood cells. Vitamin B Complex and iron are recommended to restore red blood cell counts but need to be taken with a full meal to prevent nausea. If there is no appetite, liquid meal supplements like Ensure are good to have after surgery or between treatments. However, as time passes, it is important to have at least one balanced meal to maintain a normal weight. Honey and agave nectar may be substituted for white sugar or eat baked goods and candy sparingly.
Stay hydrated. In my case, I developed ascites fluid in my abdomen area, which gave me a pregnant look. As ovarian cancer is very aggressive, this remained after my hysterectomy. To help eliminate this, each chemotherapy causes me to urinate often but causes severe cramping. To counteract this effect, drinking cranberry juice or cocktail, sports drinks or water enhanced with electrolytes are recommended. Foods, like bananas, that are high in potassium are also good in reducing leg cramps.
Stay encouraged. This is the most difficult for many living with cancer and I’m no exception. As every cancer case has different circumstances, there are numerous things you can do to remain hopeful. Some may get a second opinion or seek other legitimate treatment options. Other times, it may just help to go out with friends or family. In other words, the days of living with cancer will test you more than someone not living with this confusing disease but having a winning attitude can help.