Over the years, researchers have been able to improve chemotherapy drugs so the side effects are minimal. For those drugs that do cause unpleasant side effects, doctors have many weapons in their arsenal to help you lead a full life while undergoing treatment. “It is important that you communicate with your doctor,” says Carlos Robles, MD, medical oncologist/hematologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “Each person reacts differently to medications.”
One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy is nausea. Fortunately, there are medications that can curb this problem. Make sure you understand your doctor’s instructions, as some medications are taken only when you experience symptoms and others are meant to be taken over a period of several days, whether you feel nauseous or not.
If you feel tired during your cancer treatment, this could be due to the treatment; the emotional effects of being treated for cancer; or anemia, low levels of red blood cells.
To reduce fatigue, take naps in a chair rather than in a bed, ask family and friends for help and concentrate on only the most important activities in your life. Also data supports that moderate exercise (mainly walking) can decrease fatigue.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause diarrhea. You can curb the diarrhea by eating cooked rather than raw vegetables, fresh fruits rather than dried fruits and foods that are high in protein. There are excellent over-the-counter remedies to control it.
If you are taking medications that cause hair loss, you may choose to use a wig or scarf until your hair grows back. The Boutique at Saint Francis’ Cancer Institute offers a wide selection of wigs, scarves and accessories for cancer patients.
“Some people experience side effects while others have no problems,” says Robles. “Be sure to let us know how you are feeling so we can help you.”
For more information, call 573-331-3996.