Facts About Chemo

hospital ward

Just hearing the word “chemo” scares the heck out of most of us after what we’ve either seen in movies or on TV and what we’ve been told by our loved ones that have endured the treatments of chemo. Oh! I must also include how it seems the oncologist frightens us by using the fear tactics.  If this is what anyone is facing, it can be very hard and have side effects, but some things of what certain people have been through with chemo might surprise you.

Camille Noe Pagan has listed some of the things.

  • Marisa C. Weiss, MD, and author of Living Well Beyond Breast Cancer reveals that one of the biggest things patients complain about is how many people share cancer “horror stories” with them while they are in the middle of treatment. She suggested thanking them for caring, but let them know you do not want to hear stories about other people and their experiences right then.
  • Dana Kuznetzkoff, a New York film, and TV producer was treated for lymphoma in 2010 and suggested that you talk with the nurses, as they are the ones who will tell you exactly what you need to know.  She suggests also that you should listen to other people who’ve been there or who are involved in your care.
  • Most realize they will lose their hair but quite often they are not told their nails might fall off as well. It is important to know just what reactions might be possible when taking chemo. There are many types and the side effects depend on what kind you get and how your body reacts to it.  Common effects are hair loss and nausea, but not everyone has that happen. There might also be trouble with memory and concentration, feeling dizzy or having pain and numbness during or after chemo.  These are not usually talked about.
  • You are a person with a full life and not just a cancer patient, so even those little daily routines can give you comfort as an anchor when cancer rocks your world.  Be realistic about it though and keep flexible. Working during treatment is fine as long as you feel well enough, but take the time off following a treatment or when you most experience negative effects.  Most want to make their own decisions and take care of themselves. If they enjoy working, then they should continue as often as they feel capable. Speaking with a counselor for support can help.
  • Feeling depressed when chemo’s finally over is a normal feeling. Friends and family may want to celebrate the end of your treatment because they don’t realize you may feel blue, anxious, let down or even scared.  When you are done with treatment, everything and everyone goes back to normal and you are still experiencing mental and physical side effects, so you still need that support.  Counseling, support groups, exercise and taking time for yourself can help you feel better and ease back into your post-treatment life.

An alternative treatment is usually without extreme side effects, so checking that out is another option for those facing chemo.

Dr. Fredda Branyon