One of the most common forms of treatment for cancer is chemotherapy. While it can be a helpful way to treat and manage the disease, it does come with some unpleasant side effects. Many patients worry about how chemo will affect their quality of life and if they will still be able to enjoy the activities they love. It’s true that life may look a little different during cancer treatment, but there are lots of ways to cope and find happiness.
Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill all fast-growing cells – not just cancer cells – which is why some patients experience harsh side effects. Some common ones include fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, mood changes, reduced sex drive, weight changes, mental fog, nail and skin changes, sores, infections and more. There are also some long-term side effects of chemotherapy, such as fertility problems and kidney damage.
Most of these side effects occur during and shortly after receiving a round of chemo, and they go away until it’s time for the next dose. Some patients have very minimal side effects and continue living their normal lives, while others experience moderate or severe side effects and complications.
Tips on How to Cope
There are many effective ways to cope during cancer treatment. While every individual should manage treatment on their own terms, there are a few suggestions that can be helpful for most patients, including:
- Stay busy. If you feel well enough, fill your day with work, school, errands, friends, family and more to keep you focused, fulfilled and motivated.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family and neighbors to help you with daily tasks, so that you can get the rest you need.
- Join a support group. Connecting with others, whether that’s online or in person, who understand what you’re going through can help ease feelings of loneliness and depression.
- Stay comfortable. On bad days, surround yourself with things that make you comfortable and happy, like cozy blankets, heating pads and friends.
- Manage side effects. Feeling nauseous? Having trouble sleeping? Experiencing irritated skin? Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications to help. There may also be preventative measures you can take to reduce the impact of side effects, such as freezing your eggs or sperm to prevent infertility, before starting chemo.
For More Advice, Contact RCCA
The cancer specialists and support staff at RCCA are committed to making your cancer treatment as smooth and comfortable as possible. Call your local RCCA office to set up an appointment and learn more about what to expect from chemo.