Stand up and Fight the Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

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Chemotherapy and radiation are typical treatments for cancer patients. While these can be very effective at ridding the body of cancer, they can have some detrimental effects as well. Common problems include fatigue, hair loss, nausea, and weight loss. The good news is that there are many ways to help those overcoming side effects of chemo and radiation.

Fatigue is a typical side effect for many people going through chemo or radiation. Those feelings completely wiped out, or just a bit weary may benefit from following a light exercise regime. While fatigued patients may not feel like taking a short walk outside or even practicing some yoga in a comfortable room, this movement can energize and wake up every cell in the body. Patients should also schedule time in their days for short naps or rest periods. These times should be free of interruption, but filled with relaxation, soft music or a favorite book.

Hair loss is another common side effect of cancer treatments. Some patients choose to shave their head at the beginning of treatment. This can lessen the emotional impact of watching their hair fall out later. Some patients also get their hair cut in a short style, as this gives the impression of fuller hair and will make the process of losing hair a bit less upsetting. Using mild shampoos, low heat hair dryers, and satin pillowcases can also make the process easier to bear.

Nausea is another additional side effect of chemotherapy. Many patients even feel nauseous before beginning their treatment. This is due to nerves and stress and may be alleviated with certain medications. Patients feeling nauseous and vomiting after treatment can benefit from eating more frequent and smaller meals. When feeling nauseous, it can help to suck on small ice chips and hard candies. Many patients also find it helpful to take slow, deep breaths, converse with others, and listen to calming music.

 Weight loss in cancer patients is common as well, due to the fact that many people lose their appetites. While it can be difficult to eat while undergoing treatment, it is important that patients maintain a meal schedule. Many find it helpful to eat with friends and family in a cozy and comfortable environment. Some patients may find it easier to drink smoothies, or protein drinks instead of chewing whole food. Whatever the case, it is important that patients include proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in their diet. This will help their bodies take in essential vitamins and minerals needed for the cancer fight and healing process.
Overcoming side effects of chemo and radiation may seem challenging for those facing the task, but with support from medical professionals, friends, family, and even spiritual leaders, the effects can be fought. Patients also should try their best to maintain proper nutrition, light exercise, and personal time for rest and reflection.
Gordon Kent