Chemotherapy is an integral part of the treatment regimen for cancer patients. The treatment entails the aggressive use of medication to kill cancerous cells and curb their growth to control the disease. Whatever the type and stage of the disease, chemo can significantly boost recovery and survival rates for patients.
Statistics show that 25% of cancer patients in the US receive this treatment each year. In a study, metaplastic breast cancer (MBC) patients receiving chemo had a median survival of 12 months. Conversely, those not opting for it have a median survival of eight months. The numbers are similar for other types of cancers.
While chemotherapy can be a savior, it can be a physically, emotionally, and financially draining experience. Understanding what to expect can significantly ease anxiety and help you deal with the challenges during your treatment.
We will highlight the process and outline a few coping strategies to navigate your treatment journey effectively.
Chemotherapy drugs are potent medications that kill fast-growing cells. They travel throughout the body, affecting normal, healthy cells besides acting on the targeted cancerous ones. It often results in side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, nausea, anemia, diarrhea, constipation, weight changes, loss of libido, and fertility loss. Research shows that the average prevalence of these adverse effects is 54%.
Side effects extend beyond adverse drug reactions. Port implantation complications are also a concern because they occur in 18.5% of the patients. The ongoing Bard Power Port lawsuit highlights the risk of faulty implantable devices. Manufacturers of the device are facing these lawsuits because of the injuries and severe complications to patients due to catheter failure.
According to TorHoerman Law, parts of the Bard catheter port and tube may be prone to fracturing and migration. It can lead to complications such as vein damage, necrosis, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, arterial puncture, and hemorrhage. Many patients have already suffered and filed compensation claims against the manufacturer.
With chemotherapy treatment, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. You cannot expect the same dosage, schedules, and side effects as someone you know. Your oncologist will tailor a treatment plan according to factors like the type and stage of cancer, your treatment goals, and overall health. The plan outlines the drugs, frequency, dosage, and duration of chemotherapy.
As a patient, you should be an active participant in your treatment plan. Ask questions, understand your options, and seek second opinions if necessary. Also, maintain open communication with your providers so that you can be aware of changes in your condition promptly. Staying informed empowers you to make the best decisions aligning with your goals and preferences.
Side effects are integral to chemo treatment, but the good thing is that most of them are manageable. Even if you cannot mitigate a few of them, there are ways to preserve your quality of life in the long run. You only need to adopt some practical coping strategies to regain control and normalcy amid your chemotherapy treatment plan.
Here are a few of them:
- Follow a balanced diet plan, as good nutrition can support your body during treatment. It can also minimize digestive issues such as nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
- Optimal hydration is equally essential because chemotherapy can cause dehydration. Besides drinking water regularly, you can drink soothing clear broths and healing herbal teas.
- Engage in gentle physical activities such as walking and yoga as they can boost your energy levels and relieve stress. Remember to consult your healthcare providers to decide on a realistic exercise regimen.
- Listen to your body and give it enough sleep and rest. You cannot undermine the role of adequate sleep in healing.
- Try complementary therapies to enhance your well-being and mitigate the adverse effects of chemo treatment. However, you should seek recommendations from your provider first.
- Seek emotional support from loved ones because the emotional burden of chemo can be overwhelming. You can consider counseling therapy if it seems too hard to bear.
- Celebrate milestones and be grateful for each moment. A positive approach builds resilience and strength for cancer patients.
Undoubtedly, coping with chemotherapy is challenging, but it is worth the effort, considering it can give you a long and healthy life after remission. Having realistic expectations from your treatment plan is the first step.
Additionally, you should be aware of the potential side effects of chemotherapy. Also, adopt these coping strategies to get the best results and achieve the desired quality of life with the treatment. The right approach can help you beat the enemy within.