Life After Chemotherapy
To be diagnosed with Cancer and undergo a battery of treatment options, life after chemotherapy can be overwhelming for the patients and their caregivers. It takes a toll on the physical, emotional and financial reserve but if the treatment plan has been able to achieve the therapeutic objective, things will settle down.
Amongst the different treatment options available for cancer, Chemotherapy is the most demanding treatment given that the drugs are given internally. A lot of changes are seen in the body after administration of these cancer treating drugs over a long period of time. However, it is also mandatory to understand that chemotherapy addresses the most tough-to-treat and metastasized cancer and has overall beneficial effects.
Recovery post chemotherapy depends on numerous factors, both disease specific and individual specific: the type of chemotherapy rendered and the duration for chemotherapy, the general health of an individual, his ability to resist chemotherapy and its associated side effects. Based on these factors, the healthcare team would advise the patients about dos and don’ts to be followed post chemotherapy. Making a couple of changes to your routine to adapt to the new “normal”, would eventually help in doing way with the long-term effects that come with chemotherapy:
1. Joining a group activity: Joining a club or a group activity with people who have been through similar activities, will help in sharing everyday challenges and how to better overcome them. Groups have an inherent positivity about going past the troubled waters and still surviving; also since most of the discussion happen with those who have experienced it personally, the advice and suggestion would be quite realistic and easy to follow.
2. Modifying your lifestyle: It is modifying your dietary and lifestyle choices, quitting smoking and alcohol, and eating healthy. A nutritionist would be of great help. Modifying your lifestyle to include more of fruit and vegetables daily. Restrict fat and salt intake.
3. Stay active: Set goals to achieve desirable weight. Staying active can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and help ward away depression and anxiety.
4. Sexual activity would be initially restricted but based on person’s age, use of suitable protective agents is advised. It is good to discuss this openly with your partner. Extra rest is essential and activities that involve minimum physical exertion are suggested.
5. Chemotherapy weakens a person’s immunity since most of the blood cells that provide immunity go down in this process. It is essential to note that warning signs like chills, prolonged diarrhea and vomiting, burning sensation while urinating and to report to your doctor.
6. Follow up visits are mandatory and may help the physician assess the cancer cells; response towards chemotherapy, the range of side effects faced and ways to overcome these and devise further treatment plan based on the current standing. A range of tests might be done to assess how the patient’s body is responding to the treatment. Your doctor will initially share the list of common side effects like nausea, vomiting, hair loss with you and these should not appear intriguing. These wean away slowly. It is essential to remain upbeat and maintain a fighter spirit to let these drugs extend maximum benefit and cut down the side effects.