25 Jan, 2022
Cancer and its treatment alter several physiological functions of the body. Cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, causes several side effects. Patients undergoing cancer treatment must take good care of themselves to maximise the impact of treatment and minimise side effects.
Cancer treatment involves the killing of cancerous cells. However, cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy and radiation therapy, kill the fast-dividing healthy cells and cause significant side effects.
Some of the expected effects of cancer treatment on the body are:
Almost all people with cancer undergo chemotherapy. The other standard treatment options include surgery and radiation therapy. Most patients undergoing cancer treatment are flooded with information about cancer, treatment and recovery.
However, unfortunately, many of them are unaware of the effect of cancer treatment on their bodies and things they should be avoiding in order to bring down the risk of complications. So, we have made a quick list of things that patients must be avoiding during their cancer treatment:
Depending on the severity of the disease, the number of chemotherapy cycles administered for each patient varies. There is a gap of a few days between the cycles. This gap is for the patients to recover from the temporary ill effects of chemotherapy and get their energy back.
Chemotherapy causes significant fatigue and tiredness. Therefore, it is essential to avoid exertion and focus on preparing the body for the next cycle. Several methods help in preventing overexertion.
Always maintain a good sleep cycle and get a sleep of at least 8 hours. Additionally, a small nap in the afternoon is also acceptable.
Do not hesitate in getting help from your family members in your daily activities. You may also reduce your working hours for some days after your cancer treatment. If you have children at home, preferably take the help of childcare services to avoid overexertion.
Avoid an unhealthy lifestyle during your cancer treatment. It includes dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle and drinking alcohol and smoking. Chemotherapy may result in nausea, fatigue and hyperacidity, and some patients also have a loss of appetite. However, to maintain energy levels, the patient needs to eat. Avoid eating large meals in one go. Instead, eat frequently in small quantities.
Strictly avoid eating undercooked or raw foods, such as meat and seafood. It will increase your risk of infection. Spicy foods increase the discomfort you already have due to oral sores and increased sensitivity. You should also avoid food with a pungent smell as it may worsen nausea.
Be active and exercise under the guidance of professionals. Do not take any vitamins and mineral supplements without your doctors knowledge. These may alter the efficacy of chemotherapy. Stop drinking alcohol and quit smoking. Non-smokers should also avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
There is a reduction in immunity due to chemotherapy. Thus, those on cancer treatment should avoid pathogenic exposure at all times. Minimise attending public gatherings and visiting crowded places. You should carry hand sanitisers with you and use them when required. Request your well-wishers not to visit your home to meet you. Meeting more people increases the risk of infection.
Always wash your hands before eating. Take care while shaving or cutting nails as it may also increase the risk of infection. Eat hygienic food and do not eat leftovers. Always take good care of your incision (if surgery was a part of your cancer treatment).
If you experience any symptoms that indicate infection, such as high fever, immediately contact your doctor. Never share your personal belongings, such as towels or razors, with others.
Diagnosed with cancer and undergoing cancer treatment causes significant distress to the patients and family members. Stress results in psychological alteration and mental pressure. Eventually, it will negatively impact the overall health. Interact with family members, friends and social groups. You may also take the services of professional counsellors to manage stress.
Exercise, yoga and meditation are some of the best ways to manage stress during cancer treatment. It is important for patients to keep a positive outlook and not lose hope. Note that with advancements in technology and availability of novel drugs, there are significant improvements in the survival rates for various types of cancer.
Maintain a scheduled time for each activity. Unorganised life increases stress and takes away energy. Never miss your medications. In case you missed it, consult your doctor for further steps. If you are experiencing side effects and do not want to continue taking your medicines, immediately visit your doctor. He/she will prescribe an alternative.
Never stop taking the medication without consultation. Never miss your scheduled follow-up visits. Do not skip your counselling sessions as these will help you manage your stress more efficiently and prepare you to fight cancer in a better way. You should provide all the information, such as side effects and missed doses, to your doctor. It will help in altering the treatment strategy.
Coping with the ill effects of cancer treatments can be challenging for patients. However, patients need to know that the expert team will always be there to help them. Patients and caregivers must make it a point to ask as many questions as possible to know what to expect and adhere to the instructions given by the expert team.