Chemotherapy or chemotherapy is a part of cancer treatment that uses different drugs to stop and stop the development and spread of cancer cells in the body. A person needs multiple sessions of chemotherapy to kill or shrink the tumor mass. These sessions can take several months. In addition to killing cancer cells, chemo drugs also damage healthy cells, which can cause several unpleasant side effects.
If your oncologist recommends chemotherapy, planning can prevent unexpected results. Ask your doctor about the timing of your chemo sessions, after effects, precautions, and what to expect after therapy. Let’s understand what you need to do to overcome the side effects after chemotherapy.
Tips to know before a chemo session for a better recovery
Even though a chemo session lasts a few hours, the after-effects can last for days or weeks. If you’re considering getting chemotherapy, the following tips can help you recover from chemotherapy aftermath:
- Ask someone to be with you:
Be sure to bring a companion during your chemo sessions. Sometimes doctors may prescribe medications that make you tired or sluggish. Therefore, ask your friend or relatives to be with you for emotional support and to take you to and from the hospital. They can help you notice any side effects, such as skin rashes, and inform your doctor immediately.
- Talk to your work team for support:
When you’re at work, ask your team to help you with your work or manage your workload during sessions. Going through chemotherapy is tough, so you can talk to your boss or human resources about taking some time off to recover.
- Find help with home care and childcare:
After chemotherapy, you may experience several after effects, including nausea, vomiting, and low energy levels. You may find it strenuous to do the daily household chores and take care of children. You can ask your family members or arrange help to babysit, cook meals and do the daily housework.
- Take care of your oral health:
You may experience dryness, mucositis and mouth sores leading to painful brushing and cleaning after chemotherapy. You can ask your dentist to clean your mouth before starting chemo sessions. You should maintain good oral hygiene, including brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush, cleaning your mouth before bed, and washing your mouth with plain water.
Chemotherapy drugs can cause a variety of side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea, increasing dryness of the tissues, and dehydration. You may also experience other health problems as a result of dehydration during chemotherapy, such as low energy, lethargy, and headaches and muscle aches. Therefore, make sure that you drink enough water during and after chemotherapy. After consultation with your doctor, you can opt for fruit juices, milk, green tea and herbal teas. If you are having trouble drinking fluids, talk to your healthcare management team.
- Be mentally prepared for hair loss:
It is common for cancer patients to experience hair loss after their first chemotherapy session, which usually begins between seven and 21 days after chemotherapy. The pattern of hair loss depends on the type and dose of chemotherapy you receive. Some people may experience hair loss gradually, while others may experience hair loss all at once. Talk to your healthcare provider and make plans, such as cutting your hair short, shaving your head, or deciding to try hats, wigs, or scarves.
- Manage nausea and other side effects:
Many people experience nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. Ask your doctor for medicines to treat them. Other aids, such as sitting in the fresh air or having gum, mints, lemon candies, or popsicles, can help relieve nausea.
After chemotherapy, patients may experience suppressed appetite, nausea, and feel a different or metallic taste in food, which can cause malnutrition. Always remember never to skip meals and add nutrient rich foods to your diet.
Sometimes the anxiety and fear of treatment and cancer can overwhelm patients and they begin to lose hope, which can hurt treatment outcomes. Make sure you find at least one positive thing in your day, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.
After chemotherapy, you feel a loss of energy and have difficulty performing various tasks. So keep things around you, such as a good book, duvet, water bottle or snacks.
Cancer patients, especially those undergoing chemotherapy, often experience fatigue. Therefore, getting enough rest and avoiding strenuous activities are the two most crucial self-care tips.
Each chemotherapy treatment works differently in different people. Be sure to watch your side effects and speak to your medical team if you have any questions or concerns.