While undergoing cancer treatment there are an array of possible side effects you may experience. Some minor, others more severe. But either way they can sometimes seem worse than the diagnosis itself.
While there are plenty of options to take additional medications to combat some of these side effects, that too can come with it’s own side effects. Plus let’s not mention the fact that chemotherapy alone is enough to overload your body with harmful, yet beneficial toxins. Unfortunately chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that not only effects the cancer cells but also the healthy cells, so it is vital to give your body enough nutrition during this to help repair the healthy cells.
This post will discuss simple, natural options to help combat some side effects of undergoing treatment. These are not to replace medical advice and are not to treat the cause, just ways to help you feel your best during the process.
Common Side Effects
- Loss of appetite
- Skin Reactions
These are not all, or guaranteed effects you will have, but possibilities of what can happen. If you’ve found something not listed that helped you please list them in the comments as they may help someone else 🙂
Depending on your chemotherapy regimen or your area of radiation treatment this can be a common side effect. While you will probably be prescribed special antiemetic medications to help control this, here are a few additional things that you can try to help with this. Ginger and/or peppermint is very calming for the digestive tract and you can use it to make a tea, or as an essential oil to apply to the stomach area. Always use a carrier oil when applying essential oils to skin. There are also essential oil blends that you can get that are very effective in combating nausea. Digestzen by DoTerra is my favorite for this side effect. Small bland meals may also need to be consumed to help keep the digestive tract calm and allow for it to take it easy and recuperate from the treatment effects. Staying away from spicy and bold flavorings during your treatment would be a good idea too. There are wrist bands sold at drug stores that use pressure points to help relieve nausea that I’ve seen quite a few people use.
Loss of appetite
This is another common side effect and occurs a lot of time from either not being able to physically swallow as a side effect of radiation or loss of taste sensation as a side effect of chemotherapy. Either way it is important to maintain adequate nutrition regardless of your appetite level. It is important to understand that not only are the cancer cells in your body being targeted by whichever treatment modality you’ve chosen to go with, but your good cells in your body are also receiving effects from the treatment. They are also exposed to the chemo drugs and radiation. Therefore it is important to give your good cells proper nutrition to support their healing. If your not able to or have no desire to eat you may try supplemental drinks or even better make your own smoothies full of vegtables and fruits to help support your body with proper nutrients. Try these smoothie recipes, look up hundreds of options on the internet or create your own. Just get some nutrition in your body!
This is the number one side effect of radiation treatments and when in conjuction with chemotherapy can be even more extreme. While some people make it through the treatments with little side effects of fatigue others are hit harder with it. More commonly those who live an active lifestyle are able to remain active and have little fatigue. But if you find you become fatigued it is important to listen to your body and take some time to rest. Naps throughout the day or even an earlier bedtime may be necessary. Staying fully hydrated can also help minimize fatigue and this goes for after you’ve completed treatment as well. This ties in with the idea of supplying your body with adequate nutrients. We all know water is a staple of life and during your treatments proper hydration is important. If you’re not able to ingest enough fluids you will most likely have IV fluids ordered by your oncologist. Try adding some flavoring to water if you dont generally drink water or try using a straw and setting a goal of drinking half your weight in ounces daily. Adding this one simple step to your treatment regimen will help make a huge difference in managing your side effects and help keep you feeling your best.
Certain chemotherapy drugs can cause some pretty intense skin reactions that can present like acne, rashes and/or hives. It’s important to try and not itch or break open the skin, as bacteria can then be introduced and cause infections. Oatmeal bathes and soothing lotion can help reduce the itching in this situation. Hydrocortisone may also help the itching. A natural option would be some pure aloe vera with a little bit of lavender essential oil. You may also use some tea tree and create a blend that will also help keep any bacterial infection risk down. Radiation treatments can also cause a skin reaction similar to a sunburn. If the reaction becomes to bad there is a prescription your oncologist will prescribe but before that happens there are some over the counter options you have to help minimize skin reactions. Pure aloe vera is a great option just make sure it has no alcohol in it. If you wish to use aloe from a plant make sure you are not using the plant if the skin becomes broke open to prevent any bacterial infection possibility. Aquaphor is another OTC option you can find at a local drug store. It is thick but helps to keep the skin moisturized. It is important that you do not use any creams before your radiation treatments as this can worsen the reaction. Apply creams 2-4 times a day. Don’t use any soaps or creams with fragrance or harsh chemicals. Once you’ve completed treatment if you notice your skin is dry during the healing process Vitamin e oil is very good at addressing this. You can even buy the capsules and break them open on the area needed. For breast treatments skin reactions can be more common, as this can be a tough area with wearing a bra. A trick that may help if you’re not comfortable going braless, is to wear a camisole under your bra. It helps to prevent rubbing. Placing gauze under the breast may also help.
A roller coaster of emotions is to be expected during treatment. You’re attitude can and will affect the effects and results of treatment and while everyday won’t be easy, everyday doesn’t have to be hard either. Having a diagnosis of a terminal outcome can be scary, but when you really think about it we are all terminal, no one knows when they are going to go and no one knows how much you still have ahead. Educating yourself on positive things like nutrition and finding something destressing like yoga or walking can help to keep you focused on the positive side of your treatment. Yes you will have a ton of appointments and it can be overwhelming, but remember to also put your mental health and stress levels into your treatment routine and do things that make you smile. A smile can go further than you think!
This is one of the more difficult side effects to manage without the use of prescription pain medication. However not everyone receives relief from these options or even worse become addicted. I invite you to join me on an upcoming webinar to discuss this side effect further and how to help manage it and even help manage the above side effects at the same time!
If you would like to learn more about a supplement that can help with pain and improve your quality of life please fill out the Contact Form to receive an email of available times to join me live via the Internet! I will spend 20-30 mins discussing an all natural supplement & then will answer any questions the remaining 10 minutes.
I look forward to connecting with you and helping to educate you on how to improve your quality of life!!