By Margot Malin, CEO and Founder of www.LotsToLiveFor.com
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming. There are so many questions swirling through your mind and so many things to put in order. Here is a short list of 6 tips suggested by other patients to help make your treatment both more comfortable and better organized.
- Familiarize Yourself with Your Medications and their Side Effects
If you are going to receive chemotherapy, find out the names of your medications. Ask your oncologist or oncology nurse about the expected side effects so that you can prepare for them mentally and research some products that might help to reduce the side effects. If you are going to receive radiation, find out the duration of the sessions and what the expected effect on your skin will be, and how you can mitigate side effects. Take very good notes when you speak to your oncology team about your treatment and diagnosis.
- Schedule a dentist appointment
Cancer treatment can cause side effects in your mouth. A good cleaning and dental checkup before treatment starts can help prevent painful mouth problems. A dentist can help you protect your mouth, teeth, and jaw bones from damage caused by head and neck radiation and chemotherapy. Serious side effects in the mouth can delay, or even stop cancer treatment. It will be difficult to receive dental procedures during cancer treatment. Your dentist may also give you important tips to protect your mouth during treatment and to help you care for possible mouth problems. Ask your cancer care team to stop smoking or chewing tobacco. People who do not use tobacco have fewer mouth problems. You can view some oral care products that have been specially developed for oral care during oncology by clicking here.
- Order some new products in advance to test them to see if you have any reactions to them, and to see if you like their feel and other characteristics.
Research and order skin care, hair care, oral care, anti-nausea, and nutritional products in advance so you are prepared with products to help soothe potential side effects. Test them on your skin, scalp, and mouth before you start treatment to be sure that they agree with you. Clear the use of them with your oncology professionals. You will be happy and relieved to have them once you begin treatment.
- Make a List of Things that will need to be done and circulate it to friends and relatives so they can sign up to help you
Treatment will probably make you tired. Frequently friends and relatives want to help, but they don’t know what to do. Here’s your chance to help them help you. Make a list of things that you might need help with and dates that you will need help. The more specific you are with dates and times, the easier it will be for people to help. Circulate the list to friends and relatives by email and invite them to sign up. Here are some ideas to include: grocery shopping, baby sitting, driving carpools, rides to and from doctor appointments, rides to and from chemo, company during chemo, dropping off dinner for the family, doing laundry, helping the kids with homework, or other things that might be specific to you or your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for little favors because people don’t want to be intrusive but they do want to help! Even better……ask a friend to organize this schedule for you!
- Create a Treatment Goody Bag for Yourself
Put together a tote bag of items that you might want to bring with you to treatment to make yourself more comfortable, and also to help you pass the time. Here are a few suggestions to get started: a blanket, hat, gloves, warm socks, a water bottle, sucking candies or mouth moisturizer spray, reading material, listening material, and a journal. We will expand on this section in our next blog post where we will give more descriptive product suggestions and ideas.
- Meet with a Naturopathic Doctor
A Naturopathic Doctor can help to improve the efficacy of treatment, lessen side effects and also to help you devise a wellness plan going forward. He or she will take a more holistic view of your body and give you product and supplement suggestions that might not included in the treatment provided by your oncology team. Integrative medicine, practiced by many ND’s is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. A consultation with a naturopathic doctor will open your eyes to complementary approaches which can sustain you through treatment and beyond. Your oncology team focuses on getting rid of your cancer – your can help you protect the rest of your body and prevent unnecessary damage.
Each of these 6 tips should help to reduce the uncertainty and confusion that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment plan. Try to organize and simplify your daily schedule whenever possible. Don’t forget to ask for help!
Margot Malin is CEO and Founder of Lots To Live For, Inc. Lots To Live For sells personal care products to reduce and relieve the unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer therapy. We deliver comfort during cancer. Please view our website at http://www.LotsToLiveFor.com Please visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LotsToLiveFor