Side Effects? — There’s an App for that

 

You go through months of chemo, and you have a follow-up scan which show’s improvement. Hooray!

So now what?
What’s next?

An oncologist’s primary purpose is to slow the progression of cancer and improve your outlook. There are a few different treatments that you may continue with.

Yes, these treatments can help prolong your life. The bad news is that these treatments also cause side effects that can make your day-to-day life difficult.

Common side effects of metastatic breast cancer treatment include:

constipation
diarrhea
fatigue
hair loss
headaches
hot flashes
increased risk of infections
joint or bone pain
loss of appetite
mood swings
mouth sores
nausea and vomiting
numbness or tingling
vaginal dryness

There are the obvious tips that can help with side effects from all cancer treatments, such as making sure that you get enough rest. The simplest tasks can wear you out very quickly. Drink fluids often. Drink even more water when you have any type of infusion.

Other tips to keep in mind.

 

Up your fiber intake –

Bowel movements might not be at the top of your list of concerns right now, but when you ‘can’t go for days at a time, ‘you’ll feel bloated, crampy, and miserable. Cancer treatment will most likely leave you constipated.
Add more fiber in your diet from fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods or take a fiber supplement. Stool softeners can also be helpful.

 

Exercise –

You most likely are not going to feel like but a ten-minute walk will help you feel better and actually have more energy.
This will help you sleep better as well as improve constipation. Start small when it comes to exercise.

 

Divide up your meals –

I have found eating smaller meals more often has always been helpful. You may have learned this when trying to control nausea.
Treatments can affect your appetite and cause mouth sores that make eating more difficult and painful. Because you need proper nutrition to help your body heal, try to eat smaller meals that are high in nutrients and protein. Include foods like peanut butter, whole-milk yogurt, milkshakes, and granola. You can also add nutritional drinks and snacks throughout the day.

 

Keep a notebook –

There is always an App for that! Like I’ve mentioned in other posts, the best way to be your own medical advocate is to keep track of your side effects. Honestly, it is difficult at times to determine what is a side effect of your treatment as well as your possible progression. By keeping track of what is going on with your body, you will have a better discussion with your oncologist.

 

Don’t Give Up

Take it Off

Did you know that not all chemotherapy drugs cause you to lose your hair?

But for those of us who need the nasty hair removal chemotherapy, you have about two-three weeks from your first infusion before your hair begins to fall out. Like everything else in my life, I had a plan for how I would take some control of the situation.

Before starting treatment, I had shoulder-length hair. I had my hair cut into a cute pixie style before my first chemo appointment.

On day ten post-chemo, I noticed my hair was feeling dry and brittle. When I gently tugged on it, a few hairs came out. This was a strange, emotional moment for me. I took a couple of deep breaths and called my girlfriend, Jen.

Her assignment was to get our group of friends together for a party. It was a specific group of people that I like to refer to as my tribe; I had emotional connections with each person who was invited to The Buzz Party.

I chose to turn this emotional experience into a celebration, and A few days later my tribe gathered together at our home. We shared a meal together, then it was time.

We enjoyed a beautiful evening outdoors, and each member of my tribe took a turn first trimming off my hair and then buzzing my head.

I did not have a mirror to watch; however, I could see my reflection in one of the windows of the house.

I would watch my hair fall to the ground. I could see the bowling ball that now sat on my neck. I felt emotional, but it wasn’t about my hair.

I looked at each of these special people in my life, knowing that each one of them loved me; on this particular evening, the connections were stronger than ever. One friend even shaved her hair off in support.

We took so many videos and photos of that evening, and I will always remember shaving off my hair as the wonderful experience that it was.