7 Tips for Preparing for Chemotherapy and Radiation

Breast Cancer Team Drafting Your Teams, Doing Your Research and Organizing Your Medical Records

By Margot Malin, Founder, CEO and President of Lots To Live For, Inc.

Preparing for chemotherapy and radiation is complicated and confusing. Organization can help you become more comfortable with the journey ahead.  Read these 7 tips to help you identify your teams and learn about hard facts relating to your treatment protocol.

  1. Draft your medical and support teams.  Figure out who will be your “go to” person or persons for different questions and issues.  Your “medical team” members can include: your surgeon, your oncologist, your oncology nurses, your nurse navigator, and a cancer coach.  Your “support team” can include friends, family and individuals you meet through support organizations such as a local Gilda’s Club or hospital or church sponsored support group. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and don’t be embarrassed to accept help when offered. Click to learn more about nurse navigators and cancer coaches.
  2. Do your research so that you thoroughly understand your treatment protocol. Be active in selecting your course of treatment if you are given a series of choices or options. Having some control and “buying in” will help your frame of mind and some might even argue, can even enhance your outcome. Do as much research as you feel comfortable with. If you are not a scientist, don’t try to become one. Focus on the important facts. The book The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis is a helpful resource.
  3. Understand what your treatment side effects might be. As you do your research, be sure to review the potential physical side effects that might result from your treatment. Different chemotherapy regimens cause different side effects. Being aware of these issues can help you to prepare in advance and purchase products which can help reduce these side effects. To view products to help relieve cancer treatment side effects visit the on line store: http://www.lotstolivefor.com/.
  4. Organize your medical records.  An important way to take control of your health is to take control of your medical records. Be sure you have them organized and in one easily accessible location. You will be visiting a number of doctors and facilities and receiving a variety of treatments and tests.  It is unlikely that they will all be coordinated at the practitioner level.  Electronic medical records do not mean that all of your records are coordinated; it just means that each provider keeps your records electronically. Unfortunately, coordination and organization is still the patient’s responsibility. Options for organization are digital, such as personal health record software; or to use analog files which include manila folders, printed x-rays and a loose-leaf notebook. The Minerva Health Manager helps you organize your health records in a single coordinated location and it is portable and can be carried with you to doctor appointments and treatments.
  5. Locate resources of all types to help you.  In addition to your “teams” there are many support organizations that can help.  A good starting point is to look at the “Collection of Cancer Resources” that we have compiled on the Lots To Live For website. Your nurses, nurse navigator or cancer coach can make additional recommendations. Your treatment facility might also recommend or have list of support groups. You might also find comfort through a religious sponsored support organization.
  6. Eat right and read about nutrition for cancer patients.  The right food can make your body stronger.  Unfortunately the converse is also true. Eat nutrient dense foods high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals. Avoid processed and refined sugars.  Carefully selected nutritional supplements can be a valuable tool in rebuilding your body’s immune system. You might also want to consult a nutritionist who specializes in cancer nutrition.  Two books of interest include: American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Nutrition for Cancer Survivors: Eating Well, Staying Well During and After Cancer and The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors: A Nutritional Approach to Preventing Recurrence Continue healthy eating during treatment and after treatment is complete.
  7. Prepare your body through careful exercise and stretching. Optimize your mobility, strength and conditioning before your surgery or other treatment protocol. This can help reduce your recovery time. For example, after consulting with your medical team (for guidelines and prohibitions), start stretching to open up your chest and shoulder muscles before beginning if you are having breast surgery, so that you enter treatment with the best mobility possible.

Although you probably feel overwhelmed right now you can create positive energy by embracing these 7 tips. They can help empower you as you start your journey.  The key takeaways are to: take control and be proactive, be organized, create support networks using the numerous resources available and make educated choices.

Related Article:

About Margot Malin: Intellectually cMargot Malinurious and fiercely independent, Margot Malin has a passion for knowledge.  After receiving her MBA from The Wharton School, she launched her career by analyzing and evaluating businesses.  In 2002 she embarked on the “creative reinvention” phase of her career with the intention of “giving back”. Margot founded Lots To Live For, Inc., an internet retailer that sells carefully selected products to reduce and relieve the uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

Breast Cancer – Consider Your Thyroid’s Health

Your Wellness: Have You Considered Your Thyroid’s Health,
While addressing other health challenges?

Breast Cancer and Thyroid Health
By Rika Keck Post Rehabilitation Exercise Specialist
As a holistic practitioner specializing in stress management, I look at ‘all pieces of the puzzle’. Building energy, addressing mental wellbeing and bringing life towards better balance are fundamental wellness factors. Additionally, supporting foundational physiological health during all stages of ‘dis-ease’ is essential.

At any time in a woman’s life, it is important to make sure that thyroid function is in optimal, not normal, blood lab ranges. When addressing the whole person, it is imperative to correlate thyroid function in conjunction with adrenal function. This is not (yet) recognized in Western medicine, however addressed in the Functional Medicine approach.

A hypothyroid condition or a thyroid autoimmune condition e.g. Hashimoto Thyroiditis, will affect health, energy, weight management, sleep and resilience during any health challenge.

When being challenged by a breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, treatment and post treatment, there are certain priorities that need to be addressed. Stress levels are very high and it is important to monitor other areas of health that might become compromised during this time.

My post provides information regarding thyroid function, esp. as regards to hypo function or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. It is helpful to test for a thyroid health baseline prior to surgery or treatment. Thyroid function affects all areas of metabolic function. Energy capacity, immune function, detox ability, heart rate, mental and physical wellbeing all have a strong connection with the thyroid.

Especially with a chronic stress load and chemical overload, thyroid function will be compromised. There are often clinical symptoms, even if the labs are ‘normal’. The thyroid, in conjunction with adrenal function, must be supported at any time.

Radiation affects thyroid function adversely. This can be a trigger of Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid. The toxicity of chemotherapy affects the gland and thyroid function, which often is compromised already.

Besides being a hormonal gland, the thyroid is also a blood filter and it helps to ‘clean’ the blood. Chemicals, viruses and toxins greatly affect thyroid health and optimal function. Sadly, this is not acknowledged in allopathic medicine.

To check on the status of your thyroid, ask your physician to do the whole blood test profile. That includes TSH, T4, T3, rT3 and TPO antibodies.
From my professional experience, I seldom see the whole panel being done, yet it can provide a lot of functional information. As a ‘health investigator’, it gives me helpful information regarding my client’s overall stress handling and possible hidden immune challenges.

One can be asymptomatic for many years. A hypothyroid or hyperthyroid condition often precedes the autoimmune condition. An enlarged thyroid, a goiter, must be investigated.
Certain nutrients are essential for thyroid health and conversion of the hormones T4 to T3. Nutrients include vitamin E complex, essential fatty acids, selenium and zinc. During cancer treatment, it is important to work with a health practitioner.

I also use a certain iodine supplement in my health practice. It must be done with caution as it can bring on a strong detox. Before using iodine, I ask my clients to get checked for antibodies on the thyroid, an autoimmune condition that is becoming more prevalent.

Use of iodine is CONTRA-INDICATED in a Hashimoto’s conditions. The anti-body count needs to recede to an optimal range. Often a hypothyroid condition is underlying the autoimmune disease. Consult with a practitioner before using any iodine supplements.

When in doubt, use organic whole food sources as your nutrient sources. However, food does often not contain enough nutrients required, esp. for therapeutic purposes. (Westonaprice.org provides great nutritional resources regarding cancer.)

Autoimmune Conditions, Gluten And Your Gut Health:Should you be diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition e.g. Hashimoto’s, the following information will provide information on how you can regain health of your thyroid.

6 Ways To Regain Your Thyroids Health

1) Healthy Nutrition: Changes in nutrition are the first step: Elimination of all foods that contain gluten, and possibly dairy, is essential. Focusing on organic/free-range whole foods will support the thyroid. Do steam/sauté all cruciferous vegetables, which have thyroid inhibiting properties. (Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages).

2) Support The Gut Lining: Your stomach lining integrity is a big player regarding your thyroid health? This intestinal mucosal barrier (‘inner tube’) protects us and it is comprised of mucous membranes, the immune system, a good blood supply and the hormones.
Medications, radiation, stress, alcohol, meds, junk foods, lack of sleep, GMO foods all wreak havoc with the stomach lining. Over time, the gut lining becomes permeable and food particles can leak through. Dairy and gluten molecules are especially inflammatory.
By continuing to eat foods that contain these inflammatory proteins and having a ‘leaky gut’, the immune system is constantly in action to destroy these foreign particles. Over time the immune system becomes dysregulated and it loses the ability to distinguish ‘self’ from ‘non-self’ = auto-immunity.

3) Support Digestion And Gut Flora:Since chemotherapy and radiation adversely affect the gut flora health and gut lining integrity, it can increase the likelihood of a ‘leaky gut’ that can result in a challenged thyroid. During treatment, supporting the gut lining and gut flora will be extremely helpful. Different probiotic strains, slippery elm, aloe vera are just a few supplements to support gut lining. Digestive enzymes will optimize a compromised digestion and the added nutrient absorption will support healing, energy and wellbeing.

4) Can This Condition Create Hidden Inflammation?
YES. Foods, leaky gut, an over-reactive immune system are all part of an autoimmune condition that is associated with inflammation. Inflammation takes a tremendous toll on the endocrine system, esp. the adrenal glands.

Cancer is already linked to inflammation. By addressing any inflammatory thyroid challenges e.g. Hashimoto Thyroiditis, it is possible to lower the systemic inflammatory burden. Improving the health and function of the thyroid will support with energy, mood, toxin elimination, sleep, memory, pain and mental wellness.

5) Homeopathic detoxifiers/drainage remedies will reduce the toxic burden induced by radiation and chemotherapy. All must be done under the guidance of a health care professional.

6) Support thyroid function by assessing adrenal function in a four sample, one-day saliva test.

Conclusion: Especially with a chronic stress load and chemical toxicity overload, thyroid function will be compromised. There are often clinical symptoms, even if the labs are ‘normal’. The thyroid, in conjunction with adrenal function, must be supported at any time. Take care of your’s today!

Rika_KechRika Keck, FDN, ACN, CMTA
For more information, contact

How To Use Lavender & Peppermint Essential Oils

Breast Cancer Essential OilsBy: Cynthia Shankman, Young Living Oil Consultant

When using essential oils during chemotherapy or radiation, it is a best practice to use them as inhalation therapy.
In my first blog post I discussed where essential oils come from; the place essential oils hold in history dating back to early Egyptian times; and the different grades of essential oils.  To clear up any confusion, the term aromatherapy is the use of essential oils.

The essential oils I use exclusively are Young Living Oils.  I use this brand exclusively because they have been registered as safe for internal use as supplements by the USDA.  Now I am not a girl who believes everything the USDA says, (I am very much an alternative health girl), but because there is zero regulation on the production and distilling of essential oils, I take the USDA approval as a vote of confidence in the purity of these oils.

Labels on essential oils in grocery stores and health food stores will often say, ‘do not place on skin’ or ‘for aroma only’ or ‘do not ingest.’  This is not the case with Young Living Oils.  The quality of Young Living Oils have a proven 20 year history of being used topically and internally with great success.  I would never suggest using an oil of inferior quality as a therapeutic health alternative.

When using essential oils during chemotherapy or radiation, it is a best practice to use them as inhalation therapy only on those days.  Each individual has a unique situation, a unique body, a unique plan for wellness.  What you read here is a general recommendation.  Please check with your doctor when using alternative modalities.

Today we discuss 3 therapeutic grade Young Living essential oils and how to use them.

  • Lavender for calming and natural mood therapy
  • Peppermint for nausea and stomach upset
  • Aroma Life for lymphatic health, circulation, reduce stress, hemorrhoids, may reduce blood pressure.

Lavender Essential Oil For Breast Cancer
Lavender is a universal oil and the most widely used of all essential oils. It has a traditional history for calming and balancing the mind and body.  Just a short inhale of Lavender can turn emotions to calm and peaceful.

How will Lavender help me?
Support confidence and good thoughts. Improve brain clarity and dispel brain fog.
Ease anxiety, exhaustion, and nervousness.  Improve sleep and mood.  Stop allergic reactions.

How do I use Lavender?
Topical: Place 1 – 2 drops on wrists, back of neck, temples, massage on soles of feet, place over heart.
Diffuse:  Diffuse using a cold mist diffuser so that all healing components are kept in integrity.  Diffuse next to bed at night for a calm and peaceful sleep.  Before getting into bed, place a few drops into your palms, rub your hands together and apply over pillow for a peaceful sleep.  Place 2 drops in hand, rub together, place over nose and inhale consistently for 20 seconds.
Internal: Place 1 drop into tea as a flavoring to replace sugar.  (Do not use oils internally during medical treatments such as chemo or radiation.)

Peppermint is the second most widely used essential oil.  It has multiple uses and supports the body on every level, mental, emotional and physical.  Just a short inhale of Peppermint will invigorate and uplift the mood and mind.

How do I use Peppermint?
Topical:  Place 2 drops on forehead and back of neck to relieve a headache in minutes.  Place 2 drops on stomach to improve a stomach ache and improve digestion. Place 2 drops on an ache or pain to ease pain within minutes.
Diffuse:  To dispel nausea, dispel brain fog and invigorate mood, place 2 drops in hand, rub hands together, then cup over nose, inhale for 20 seconds.  Repeat as often as needed.  You cannot overdo essential oils. Do this every 5 minutes if needed. Diffuse using a cold mist diffuser so all healing components are kept in integrity.
Internal:  For quick stomach ache relief, place 2 drops Peppermint in ½ cup of water, and drink down.  Can place 1 drop Peppermint oil in tea to replace sugar.  (Do not use oils internally during medical treatments such as chemo or radiation.)

Aroma Life is a blend of essential oils exclusive to Young Living.  When essential oils are blended together, the components equal more than their individual qualities alone.  Aroma Life is a blend of Cypress, Marjoram, Helichrysum, Ylang Ylang.

How do I use Aroma Life?
Topically:  To improve the lymphatic and circulatory systems place 2 drops over lymphatic areas such as side of neck/chest, upper arms, behind knees, groin area. Place 2 drops over heart to improve circulation and reduce stress. Place 2 drops in palm with ¼ tsp coconut or olive oil, apply directly to hemorrhoid.  Apply 1 drop to under the left ring finger or left ring toe to ease anxiety and improve circulation.  Can add 1 drop of grapefruit or orange oil to improve circulation and lymphatic flow even further.
Diffuse:  Diffuse using a cold mist diffuser so that all healing components are kept in integrity.  Diffuse to improve lung circulation.  Diffuse next to bed at night for a calm and peaceful sleep.
Internal:  No internal use for Aroma Life

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these beautiful essential oils.  I view them as gifts from nature that help me at ever juncture of my life.  They are truly a gift to the senses and the body.  In my next post we will discuss two more beautiful and healing oils:  Frankincense and Joy Oil.

If you have questions or comments, please use the space below and I will respond to you.

If you would like to speak with me for a free 15 minutes consultation, please:
Leave a comment below
Contact me @cynthia.organicsparkle@gmail.com
Call or text me @ 631-241-1496

Blessings, Love, and Oils,

Tips For Oral Health While Undergoing Chemotherapy and Radiation

By Margot Malin, Founder, CEO and President of Lots To Live For, Inc. 

Chemotherapy and oncology radiation can cause oral complications.  In fact, oral complications from radiation to the head and neck or chemotherapy are extremely common and can compromise quality of life and affect the patient’s ability to complete his or her treatment protocol. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the side effects to the mouth, gums, and teeth that can result from cancer treatment.  In this blog post we offer some helpful tips so that you can be adequately prepared.  To simplify the discussion we have organized this post into 3 parts: Part One – Before Beginning Chemo and Radiation; Part Two – Probable Oral Side Effects; Part Three – Tips for Maintaining Oral Health and Comfort Including Product Suggestions


 Before Beginning Chemotherapy and Radiation

Approximately one month prior to starting a cancer treatment protocol it is a good idea to have an oral assessment from a dentist. This visit is often called “pretreatment” oral care. It allows for prompt identification and treatment of existing infections or other problems. It is also a good idea to have on oral prophylaxis (cleaning). Oral surgery should be timed at least two weeks prior to starting myelosuppressive chemotherapy.

Probable Oral Side Effects from Chemo and Radiation

Once chemo and / or radiation has begun, probably side effects with affect the mouth and gums may include:

  1. Oral mucositis/stomatitis or inflammation and ulceration of the mucus membranes.
  2. Infection – viral, bacterial or fungal infections may occur
  3. Xerostomia also known as dry mouth, is caused by salivary gland dysfunction. Persistent dry mouth increases the risk of dental issues.
  4. Mouth sores may develop
  5. Functional disabilities such as an impaired ability to eat, taste, swallow and speak
  6. Dental decay and demineralization – decay and erosion of the tooth’s surface as a result of changes in both the quality and quantity of saliva from cancer treatment
  7. Bleeding due to decreased platelets


Tips for Maintaining Oral Health and Decreasing Side Effects During Treatment

  1. Gently brush your teeth, gums and the tongue with an extra soft toothbrush after every meal and before bed.  You can use toothpastes that are specially formulated for cancer patients such as Biotene Toothpaste – which contains natural salivary enzymes that boost and replenish your oral defense system.
  2. Take small bites of food, chew slowly and sip liquids with and between meals.
  3. Avoid sharp, crunchy foods that can scrape or cut your sensitive mouth and gums.
  4. To relieve dry mouth use a saliva substitute such as a mouth moisturizing product (such as Oral Balance, or MouthKote) or oral rinse. Do not use any products containing alcohol as an ingredient.
  5. Avoid hard, sugar candy and carbonated soda. You can use sugarless candy to help hydrate your mouth.
  6. Chew Biotene Dry Mouth Sugar-Free Gum to stimulate salivary flow and protect between brushes.
  7. Use a cool mist moisturizer at night.
  8. Keep your lips moist with a gentle lip balm (Lindiskin Lip Balm or 7 Balm, for example)
  9. You may need supplemental fluoride – as directed and prescribed by your dentist.

“To be forewarned is to be forearmed” as the saying goes:  advance warning provides an advantage. Being aware of the potential for oral issues during cancer treatment is the first step, and has been accomplished by reading this blog piece. Being proactive is one of the best solutions.  If you are prepared and know what to expect, you can be extra vigilant with oral care. You can see a dentist before you start your cancer treatment protocol. You can choose your foods carefully. Keep your mouth hydrated by drinking and sipping fluids. You can purchase special products which will be helpful to maintaining your oral health prior to commencing your treatment. Maintain a dialog with both your dentist, oncologist, and oncology nurses during treatment. Try to address any oral care issues that arise promptly, so your treatment protocol is not interrupted.


You can purchase a variety of products for oral care during cancer treatment on the website www.LotsToLiveFor.com. There is a special section on the website dedicated to oral care products.  Cancer treatment can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Techniques and products to reduce side effects can help make the process more comfortable and hopefully improve your frame of mind, your energy, and hopefully your overall outcome. At Lots To Live For, Inc. we provide products and resources related to cancer side effect solutions which can help you maintain your normal lifestyle during your treatment.

Related Article:



%d bloggers like this: