Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably originating from one organ and spreading to other organs either through direct extension, blood and/or lymphatics. The most common and primary form of treatment for cancer is surgery, preceded by or followed by Cytotoxic therapy. While battling with cancer, an individual’s lifestyle may demand a drastic change, which will help them manage treatment and its side effects effectively.

Cancer Treatment Do's

1.     Diet while undergoing Chemotherapy.

  • Take a small, light snack with you. Opt for plain or fruit yogurt, fresh fruit, cottage cheese, toasted bagel with a small amount of peanut butter, cereal, milk, pomegranate salad, roasted veggie, and hummus pita pockets. Include green salads in your meal along with low acid juices (apple, grape, and fruit nectars), bananas, and crackers. Small portion sizes are advised.
  • After therapy, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day (aim for 5-6 smaller meals) that are low in fat, have foods that cool the stomach, consume fluids to avoid dehydration. Avoid eating hard dry food and uncooked vegetables and meat.
  • Maintaining your weight all through the course of therapy is important to improve your tolerance to the therapy and may improve your general health outcome.

2.     Physical activities - Light forms of physical activity are recommended as it helps manage fatigue, mental wellbeing, and enhances the overall quality of life. It has also been proven to elevate mood, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, decrease therapy side effects, and boost energy.

3.     Rest & sleep - Research has shown that people with cancer who maintain regular sleep/wake schedules have better outcomes and quality of life than people with irregular schedules and poor sleep.

4.     Safety - Going to crowded places like a mall, theatre or even a house party can increase your chances of catching an infection. Instead, go to parks or open grounds for a stroll and get a fresh dose of oxygen that can help you feel better and boost your immunity.

5.     Timely medications - Ensure to take all necessary medication as prescribed by the Doctor in a timely manner.

6.     Counseling for mental wellbeing - Seek professional help upon experiencing mood swings, depression weakness or irritability.

Cancer Treatment Don’ts

1.     Food habits - Avoid eating uncooked meat, spicy and acidic foods, or any food that you know already may cause your abdominal pain, heart burn or distress. Citrus fruits, cold drinks and frozen treats can be evaded for a while.

2.     New medications or supplements - It’s fine to take a nutritional supplement if your doctor prescribes it. For any usage of essential oils, herbal supplements, or melatonin, consult with your doctor first, as new medications can potentially interact with cancer medications and might be unsuitable for your body/treatment process by decreasing drug efficacy or potentiate side effects.

3.     Smoking & alcohol consumption - Avoid alcohol as it is processed by the liver which can cause additional strain on the organ. It also causes dehydration, which can worsen nausea. Smoking, vaping, and other tobacco products are also hard on the body, so it’s best to avoid them entirely.

4.     UV exposure - Wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 when outside during the day. It is always preferrable to avoid direct sunlight while on therapy.

5.     Pregnancy -While pregnancy during Chemotherapy is possible, it may be detrimental to the fetus or the outcome of your therapy. Ensure to speak to your healthcare professional to practice safe contraception before starting any treatment. If you plan to have a baby after completion of your therapy, it is best to discuss with your primary care physician when to consider getting pregnant, if it is not contraindicated, risks and chances to get pregnant.  

6.     Fatigue management - One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy is fatigue. Some patients can keep up with their usual activities, while others may have more difficulty completing household tasks. Many studies suggest exercise, light to moderate, decreases the rate of fatigue by at least 50 % and may also improve your tolerance to your therapy. Light exercise could include daily walking from 20 min to 1 hour, or moderate exercise such as light weightlifting in for 90 min every 3 times per week. Ensure adequate rest whenever you are not exercising or doing your daily activities.

7.     Seek help - The key to a smooth course of therapy is good communication between you and your care team. Make sure to communicate effectively with your Healthcare professional regarding any queries you may have.

Cancer survivors should ensure consistent follow-up care with a healthcare professional for regular medical check-ups. These check-ups may include bloodwork, as well as other tests and procedures that seek alterations in health. Regular follow ups with a doctor will also ensure awareness and education amongst patients and their family members about risk factors and the need for taking preventive measures to avoid developing cancer.

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