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Making Chemotherapy More Comfortable: 6 Helpful Tips

July 16, 2017

If you are reading this, you are likely going through a very frightening time.  A cancer diagnosis is scary, to say the least, and riddled with uncertainty.  The questions and doubt you have surrounding this new phase in your health can be overwhelming, and your upcoming treatment probably ranks high on your list of concern. 

If your treatment plan involves chemotherapy, you may be worried about being uncomfortable, getting sick, or losing weight.  We understand that we can’t alleviate all of your anxiety during such a tumultuous time, but we hope we can at least ease your mind regarding treatment.  Through our years of treating cancer patients from across south Louisiana, we’ve learned a few tricks of the trade that we’d like to pass on to you.  Follow these tips throughout your chemotherapy, and you may find that the process isn’t as daunting as you had feared.

Rely on a Support Network during Chemo

Chemotherapy is not a path to walk alone.  Even if you are someone who is typically introverted or independent, you will still need others to offer support.  There will be times when you aren’t feeling well and could use help around your home or running errands.  Depending on your particular medications you may also need someone to be available to drive you home following your treatment.  However, perhaps the greatest role of your network is emotional support.  Cancer patients suffer much higher rates of depression than the general population, with about 15 – 25 percent being affected.  A strong support network has been shown to help significantly in these cases.

Ask about Medications to make Chemo Easier

One of the greatest fears surrounding chemotherapy is becoming sick.  While this isn’t the case for every patient, many do find that the treatments leave them feeling nauseous.  If you find that this is the case for you, know that there are multiple prescription medications available to help.  Speak with your oncologist about how and when you are feeling ill, and together, you can explore options to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Set Yourself up for Comfort during Chemo

The last thing you want when sitting in a chair for long stretches is to be bored or uncomfortable.  When going to chemo treatments, dress for comfort and ease.  Wear loose clothing that allows you to move freely and offers access to your port site if needed.  You may get cold, so bring a blanket to help keep you warm, and pack lip balm and moisturizer to combat the effects of dry air.  In addition, you’ll want some items that will help pass the time.  Books, tablets, and needlework are all great choices that are easily transportable.

Stay Hydrated Before and After Chemotherapy

Hydration is important for your body at any time, but it is especially so during chemotherapy.  The treatments can be dehydrating, so lots of fluids beforehand are recommended.  Keep your beverage choices non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated, and drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses prior to therapy.  During the day after, replenish your body and help flush the meds out of your system by continuing to focus on hydration.

Be Mindful of Nutrition during Chemo

Never before has proper nutrition been so important.  Your body is going to be going through a lot, and the best way that you can help it prepare and recover is through the dietary choices that you make.  If you haven’t already done so, request to see a dietician, and begin following their nutritional recommendations. 

Lessen Chemo Fatigue with a Schedule

It may not always be the case, but there will be days that chemotherapy leaves you feeling drained.  You can help ease these effects by establishing a routine and sticking to it from the beginning.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and attempt to include some light exercise such as walking whenever you can.

At Lane, we understand the road ahead for those facing cancer.  Our goal is always to provide you with the best treatment possible while also focusing on comfort and compassion.  We understand that cancer is not who you are.  It’s just something you’re going through right now, and we’re here to help.

 

Lane Cancer Center

6180 Main Street, Suite A

Zachary, LA  70791

(225) 658-4400