You are probably aware that chemotherapy is one of the most common cancer treatments, and that it may cause side effects such as hair loss, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, swelling, and digestive problems. But did you know how important it is to be proactive about keeping your body and mind strong during treatment? Here are six ways to keep your body healthy during chemotherapy treatment:
- Boost your nutrition. Eating a healthy diet helps you deal with side effects and fight infections. If you experience nausea, lack of appetite, or other eating problems, discuss solutions with your doctor or nurse navigator.
- Stay well hydrated. Chemotherapy can be dehydrating. Drinking plenty of water before and after treatment helps your body process chemotherapy drugs and flush the excess out of your system.
- Tackle physical changes. If your hair starts falling out, go shopping for a wig or buy a few stylish hats to keep your head warm. Ask your nurse navigator or oncology infusion center nurse for information about community and/or national resources for wigs or headwear. Minimize mouth sores by brushing, with a soft toothbrush, after every meal and rinsing your mouth several times a day, but avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol as these may be irritating. Soothe dry skin with body lotion and lip balm.
- Avoid germs. Because chemotherapy affects normal cells as well as abnormal ones, your immune system becomes weakened. Avoid bacteria and viruses by washing hands frequently and keeping them away from your face. Also, stay out of crowds and only consume well-washed fresh foods and fully cooked meats.
- Keep exercising. Physical activity—even as little as three 10-minute walks a day—can improve your appetite and emotional state. Ask your doctor what’s safe for you.
- Get your R&R. On the days after treatment, enjoy restful, relaxing activities while your body recovers. To combat fatigue, get seven or eight hours of sleep each night and maintain consistent sleep-wake times.
If you have questions about how to stay healthy during treatment, call askSARAH at (844) 482-4812 to speak to a nurse who is specially trained to help with your cancer questions or visit askSARAHnow.com.