Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR DOCTOR DURING CANCER TREATMENT

May 19, 2011 - 4:15 am Comments Off
The diagnosis of cancer and its treatment creates enormous physical, emotional and spiritual vulnerability in the patient and her loved ones. None of us can predict how we will react to this extreme episode in life. Much of it will depend on your personality, stage in life, and strength of existing relationships with your partner and loved ones, and prior experience with the health system. For many, it will be your first stay in hospital. Therefore most women, and their carers, have no prior experience with the way to manage cancer, from diagnosis through treatment, to life after treatment. Most undoubtedly will have a view, often negative and fearful, that is developed from a range of sources including the media, but mostly from stories of others that have experienced cancer. Therefore your relationship with the cancer specialist and the treatment team is vital to maintaining some quality in your life, and progressing through your treatment with a level of confidence.
As good communication is essential to both the doctor and yourself in making sure your needs are fully met, it is important that you quickly develop some sort of rapport. How can this be established?
If the doctor is someone known from reputation or a recommendation, you immediately have prior knowledge of the doctor’s style and ability. This immediately instills a level of trust. For most, however, the doctor will be someone who is completely unknown to you, and rapport has to be developed from the first appointment. It is important that a sense of mutual trust be established. ‘Can you talk openly with your doctor?’ Without trust your recovery may be slowed by fear, uncertainty and confusion. Trust does not necessarily mean ‘like’. In the first visits when you are numbed by the diagnosis, you may not develop the instant rapport you had hoped. However, if you have trust in the specialist skills of the doctor, and he or she has a sound reputation, rapport most often quickly develops.
You may be like the ‘very assertive patient, who generally takes an ‘intellectual’ approach to her illness, who will question, make demands and have a great need to be in control of all decisions and management of her treatment. She may often take longer in the appointment and is usually able to clearly articulate all aspects of her treatment, using medical jargon, to doctor, friends and family. She will often seek current medical literature from global sources and be involved in specialist ‘chat rooms’. These women are often using complementary therapies as a daily routine, are high Internet users for sources of information and are aware of current cancer therapies. Building close rapport with the health team is usually not a priority as she sees herself as highly independent and in control.
*29/144/5*

GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER AND COMMONLY USED THERAPIES

There are many kinds of complementary therapies that are used by patients in a variety of ways and at every stage of the treatment process and beyond. Women with gynecological cancers use a wide range of complementary therapies. The more commonly used therapies include:
•     Acupuncture                     •   Prayer
•     Bach flower essences         •   Reiki
•     Chiropractic                     •   Relaxation
•     Dietary change               •   Spiritual healing
•     Exercise                           •   Therapeutic touch
•     Herbal medicine               •   Traditional Chinese medicine
(eastern and western)       •   Visualization
•     Homoeopathy                 •   Massage
•     Hypnotherapy                 •   Vitamin and mineral supplements
•     Naturopathy
In addition to these therapies women with gynecological cancers also use a variety of psychological supports. These include individual psychotherapy, sexual counseling and support groups, including family support.
Many women had a regular additional regime of meditation, visualization, yoga, acupuncture, increased Vitamin В and С (but only to a recommended daily dose not beyond), herbal liver supplements to support the liver, dietary changes.
*99/144/5*

GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER AND COMMONLY USED THERAPIESThere are many kinds of complementary therapies that are used by patients in a variety of ways and at every stage of the treatment process and beyond. Women with gynecological cancers use a wide range of complementary therapies. The more commonly used therapies include:•     Acupuncture                     •   Prayer•     Bach flower essences         •   Reiki•     Chiropractic                     •   Relaxation•     Dietary change               •   Spiritual healing•     Exercise                           •   Therapeutic touch•     Herbal medicine               •   Traditional Chinese medicine      (eastern and western)       •   Visualization•     Homoeopathy                 •   Massage•     Hypnotherapy                 •   Vitamin and mineral supplements•     Naturopathy                    In addition to these therapies women with gynecological cancers also use a variety of psychological supports. These include individual psychotherapy, sexual counseling and support groups, including family support.Many women had a regular additional regime of meditation, visualization, yoga, acupuncture, increased Vitamin В and С (but only to a recommended daily dose not beyond), herbal liver supplements to support the liver, dietary changes.*99/144/5*

OVERCOMING CANCER: THE MENTAL IMAGERY PROCESS

In this section, we will lead you through the relaxation-mental imagery process, repeating the previous instructions for relaxation. You may want to tape-record instructions, as we do for our I patients, or have a friend read them to you. If you are reading to someone else, be sure to read slowly. Allow the other person plenty of time to complete each step. Remember that j we encourage our patients to take ten to fifteen minutes to complete the entire process and to practice it three times a day.
Even if you do not have cancer, we ask you to go through the cancer visualization once to give you an emotional understanding of this process and insight into how the cancer patient feels.
1. Go to a quiet room with soft lighting. Shut the door, sit in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor, eyes closed.
2. Become aware of your breathing.
3. Take in a few deep breaths, and as you let out each breath, mentally say the word, “relax.”
4. Concentrate on your face and feel any tension in the muscles of your face and around your eyes. Make a mental picture of this tension—it might be a rope tied in a knot or a clenched fist—and then mentally picture it relaxing and becoming comfortable, like a limp rubber band.
5. Experience the muscles of your face and eyes becoming relaxed. As they relax, feel a wave of relaxation spreading through your body.
6. Tense the muscles of your face and around your eyes, squeezing tightly, then relax them and feel the relaxation spreading through your body.
7. More slowly down your body—jaw, neck, shoulders, back, upper and lower arms, hands, chest, abdomen, thighs, calves, ankles, feet—until every part of your body is more relaxed. For each part of the body, mentally picture the tension, then picture the tension melting away, allowing relaxation.
8. Now picture yourself in pleasant, natural surroundings—wherever feels comfortable for you. Mentally fill in the details of color, sound, texture.
9. Continue to picture yourself in a very relaxed state in this natural place for two to three minutes.
10. Then mentally picture the cancer in either realistic or symbolic terms. Think of the cancer as consisting of very weak, confused cells. Remember that our bodies destroy cancerous cells thousands of times during a normal lifetime. As you picture your cancer, realize that your recovery requires that your body’s own defenses return to a natural, healthy state.
11. If you are now receiving treatment, picture your treatment coming into your body in a way that you understand. If you are receiving radiation treatment, picture it as a beam of millions of bullets of energy hitting any cells in its path. The normal cells are able to repair any damage that is done, but the cancerous cells cannot because they are weak. (This is one of the basic facts upon which radiation therapy is built.) If you are receiving chemotherapy, picture that drug coming into your body and entering the bloodstream. Picture the drug acting like a poison. The normal cells are intelligent and strong and don’t take up the poison so readily. But the cancer cell is a weak cell so it takes very little to kill it. It absorbs the poison, dies, and is flushed out of your body.
12. Picture your body’s own white blood cells coming into the area where the cancer is, recognizing the abnormal cells, and destroying them. There is a vast army of white blood cells. They are very strong and aggressive. They are also very smart. There is no contest between them and the cancer cells; they will win the battle.
13. Picture the cancer shrinking. See the dead cells being carried away by the white blood cells and being flushed from your body through the liver and kidneys and eliminated in the urine and stool.
• This is your expectancy of what you want to happen.
• Continue to see the cancer shrinking, until it is all gone.
• See yourself having more energy and a better appetite and being able to feel comfortable and loved in your family as the cancer shrinks and finally disappears.
14. If you are experiencing pain anywhere in your body, picture the army of white blood cells flowing into that area and soothing the pain. Whatever the problem, give your body the command to heal itself. Visualize your body becoming well.
15. Imagine yourself well, free of disease, full of energy.
16. Picture yourself reaching your goals in life. See your purpose in life being fulfilled, the members of your family doing well, your relationships with people around you becoming more meaningful. Remember that having strong reasons for being well will help you get well, so use this time to focus clearly on your priorities in life.
17. Give yourself a mental pat on the back for participating in your recovery. See yourself doing this mental imagery exercise three times a day, staying awake and alert as you do it.
18. Then let the muscles in your eyelids lighten up, become ready to open your eyes, and become aware of the room.
19. Now let your eyes open, and you are ready to resume your usual activities.
If you have not done so already, please take the time to go through this mental imagery process. When you completed the entire exercise, draw a picture illustrating the images you created, so that you can analyze your imagery in more detail.
You needn’t worry about not being able to “see” the imagery if you were able to “sense” or “imagine” or “think” it. The word describing what you were doing is much less important than the fact of your doing it. Also, if you found your mind drifting during the process, next time just bring it back gently to the imagery without being harsh on yourself. If you were aware, while going through the process, that you were unable to complete certain of the instructions because you could not believe or accept them, then you have begun to confront your attitudes about cancer or recovery. By now you know how important that recognition is.
*42\347\2*

OVERCOMING CANCER: THE MENTAL IMAGERY PROCESSIn this section, we will lead you through the relaxation-mental imagery process, repeating the previous instructions for relaxation. You may want to tape-record instructions, as we do for our I patients, or have a friend read them to you. If you are reading to someone else, be sure to read slowly. Allow the other person plenty of time to complete each step. Remember that j we encourage our patients to take ten to fifteen minutes to complete the entire process and to practice it three times a day.Even if you do not have cancer, we ask you to go through the cancer visualization once to give you an emotional understanding of this process and insight into how the cancer patient feels.1. Go to a quiet room with soft lighting. Shut the door, sit in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor, eyes closed.2. Become aware of your breathing.3. Take in a few deep breaths, and as you let out each breath, mentally say the word, “relax.”4. Concentrate on your face and feel any tension in the muscles of your face and around your eyes. Make a mental picture of this tension—it might be a rope tied in a knot or a clenched fist—and then mentally picture it relaxing and becoming comfortable, like a limp rubber band.5. Experience the muscles of your face and eyes becoming relaxed. As they relax, feel a wave of relaxation spreading through your body.6. Tense the muscles of your face and around your eyes, squeezing tightly, then relax them and feel the relaxation spreading through your body.7. More slowly down your body—jaw, neck, shoulders, back, upper and lower arms, hands, chest, abdomen, thighs, calves, ankles, feet—until every part of your body is more relaxed. For each part of the body, mentally picture the tension, then picture the tension melting away, allowing relaxation.8. Now picture yourself in pleasant, natural surroundings—wherever feels comfortable for you. Mentally fill in the details of color, sound, texture.9. Continue to picture yourself in a very relaxed state in this natural place for two to three minutes.10. Then mentally picture the cancer in either realistic or symbolic terms. Think of the cancer as consisting of very weak, confused cells. Remember that our bodies destroy cancerous cells thousands of times during a normal lifetime. As you picture your cancer, realize that your recovery requires that your body’s own defenses return to a natural, healthy state.11. If you are now receiving treatment, picture your treatment coming into your body in a way that you understand. If you are receiving radiation treatment, picture it as a beam of millions of bullets of energy hitting any cells in its path. The normal cells are able to repair any damage that is done, but the cancerous cells cannot because they are weak. (This is one of the basic facts upon which radiation therapy is built.) If you are receiving chemotherapy, picture that drug coming into your body and entering the bloodstream. Picture the drug acting like a poison. The normal cells are intelligent and strong and don’t take up the poison so readily. But the cancer cell is a weak cell so it takes very little to kill it. It absorbs the poison, dies, and is flushed out of your body.12. Picture your body’s own white blood cells coming into the area where the cancer is, recognizing the abnormal cells, and destroying them. There is a vast army of white blood cells. They are very strong and aggressive. They are also very smart. There is no contest between them and the cancer cells; they will win the battle.13. Picture the cancer shrinking. See the dead cells being carried away by the white blood cells and being flushed from your body through the liver and kidneys and eliminated in the urine and stool.• This is your expectancy of what you want to happen.• Continue to see the cancer shrinking, until it is all gone.• See yourself having more energy and a better appetite and being able to feel comfortable and loved in your family as the cancer shrinks and finally disappears.14. If you are experiencing pain anywhere in your body, picture the army of white blood cells flowing into that area and soothing the pain. Whatever the problem, give your body the command to heal itself. Visualize your body becoming well.15. Imagine yourself well, free of disease, full of energy.16. Picture yourself reaching your goals in life. See your purpose in life being fulfilled, the members of your family doing well, your relationships with people around you becoming more meaningful. Remember that having strong reasons for being well will help you get well, so use this time to focus clearly on your priorities in life.17. Give yourself a mental pat on the back for participating in your recovery. See yourself doing this mental imagery exercise three times a day, staying awake and alert as you do it.18. Then let the muscles in your eyelids lighten up, become ready to open your eyes, and become aware of the room.19. Now let your eyes open, and you are ready to resume your usual activities.If you have not done so already, please take the time to go through this mental imagery process. When you completed the entire exercise, draw a picture illustrating the images you created, so that you can analyze your imagery in more detail.You needn’t worry about not being able to “see” the imagery if you were able to “sense” or “imagine” or “think” it. The word describing what you were doing is much less important than the fact of your doing it. Also, if you found your mind drifting during the process, next time just bring it back gently to the imagery without being harsh on yourself. If you were aware, while going through the process, that you were unable to complete certain of the instructions because you could not believe or accept them, then you have begun to confront your attitudes about cancer or recovery. By now you know how important that recognition is.*42\347\2*

YOUR CANCER, YOUR LIFE – INCISION AND EXCISION BIOPSIES

‘Incision’ means cutting out part of, ‘excision’ means cutting out the whole of an abnormal area. This can be done with scalpels etc in the form of a mini-operation or with special forceps and other instruments designed to neatly nip off a tiny sample. Such instruments are available for taking specimens from internal lesions through endoscopy tubes. Because of this, endoscopy is a very useful type of test—we can see the abnormality and get a specimen from it in the one procedure. In many cases, these specimens are from spots which, in the past, could only have been biopsied at a full scale operation. Endoscopy can be uncomfortable, Wit it’s certainly much safer, simpler, more convenient and less painful than an operation!

As I explained in the previous section, if lesions can’t be reached through the skin or by endoscopy, an operation may be necessary to get a specimen. As with every type of specimen that consists of only a small fragment of the abnormal area, incision biopsies are only helpful if they are positive, that is, give a definite diagnosis. A negative biopsy can only rule out cancer when the whole lesion is removed and examined under the microscope. An excision biopsy may be recommended whenever a conclusive diagnosis cannot be made using the other methods I have described. In the case of enlarged lymph nodes, it is usually best to remove one completely anyway. This is because lymph node conditions can be diagnosed much more accurately and reliably when the pathologist can see the pattern of the whole node and not just a few cells from one part of it.

*77/40/1*

BONE METASTASES – X-RAYS AND BONE SCANS

Cancer in the bones can also cause the release of large amounts of calcium into the blood. This can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, metallic taste in the mouth, constipation, muscle weakness, excessive thirst and the passing of large volumes of urine.

Again, there are a number of other possible causes for high blood calcium levels which your doctor would have to consider.

If bone secondaries are suspected, X-rays or bone scans, or both, may be necessary. X-rays of a bone secondary may show a weakened area which looks darker than the normal white bone, because there is less calcium in the affected spot. Sometimes, however, the nearby normal bone reacts very strongly to the presence of cancer cells, producing a calcium-rich area that looks whiter than the normal bone. After successful treatment, healing bone secondaries can also look like this. In some cases bone secondaries do not show up on normal X-rays at all. Quite a lot of bone has to be destroyed before they can be seen. A CT scan of the suspected area is more sensitive, and may be positive when the plain X-ray looks normal.

*104/40/1*

ANTI-CANCER DIET: FIGS, FLAXSEED OIL AND GREEN BEANS

Figs

Research has indicated figs can shrink tumours involved in various cancers. Research on humans suggests figs are capable of shrinking tumours by an average of 39 per cent and can induce remissions in 55 per cent of cancer sufferers . The main active ingredient found in figs and fig extracts is benzaldehyde.

Figs may counteract and treat many of the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. One nasty side effect of cancer therapy is lassitude (lack of energy) and damage to the mucosal lining of the mouth, throat and digestive tract. Figs contain demulcents, substances that soothe irritated mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and respiratory system. This little fruit is rich in potassium, iron, copper, calcium, sodium, phosphorous, magnesium and  complex vitamins. If you want to put some pep you’re your step, eat a small handful of figs. Their rich fructose content is able to boost energy levels.

Flaxseed/Linseed Oil

Flaxseed oil or linseed oil is the only diet oil permitted in the orthomolecular treatment of cancer patients. Flaxseeds are extremely rich in both alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, magnesium, zinc, Â vitamins, potassium and fibre. Flaxseed oil may alleviate the side effects and inhibit the further development of many forms of cancer.

Adding flaxseed to the diet is able to increase the body’s production of energy, thereby improving stamina. It is able to improve liver function, prevents atherosclerosis and asthma, alleviates depression, assists dry and flaky skin and accelerates the healing of bruises.

Flaxseed oil or flaxseeds may help to prevent the development of cancer in the small intestine and may be a major component in anti-tumour activity. It is believed to prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer, hormone-induced cancers and metastases.

It maintains the flexibility of red blood cells, prevents fatty degeneration in the liver, lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels and strengthens brain activity.

Flaxseed oil is a phytoestrogen (a plant containing estrogen-like qualities) that has been proven to protect against heart disease and certain types of cancers. Flaxseed oil combined with a protein, like cottage cheese, stimulates the oxygenation processes in the body harming dangerous cancer cells. This miracle medicine can be incorporated easily into your daily diet.

Green Beans

Green beans are excellent for the heart, providing fibre, protein and complex carbohydrates. They are very rich in high powered anti-cancer agents called phytochemicals and protease inhibitors. Beans stimulate colon bacteria to give off volatile short chain fatty acids, which decrease the ‘bad’ cholesterol, lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of developing colon cancer.

Green beans are a rich source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage, protects the body against infections and promotes healthy skin and clear eyesight. Fresh green beans also supply vitamin E, vitamin Ñ, Â vitamins, folic acid, iron, magnesium, calcium and manganese. Lightly steam beans or eat them raw, add to a salad to receive the full nutritional benefits from this magical green medicine.

*106/34/5*

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND CANCER: LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

The immune system is one of the most complex and amazing systems in the human body. Its primary role is to protect the body against infection and prevent the development of disease and cancer. It is designed to isolate or destroy cancerous cells, which exist in each person’s body from time to time. Suppression of the body’s immune system over a long period of time can result in cancerous growths.

Support and enhancement of the body’s immune system is one of the most important keys in achieving resistance to disease and preventing and treating cancer. It is our first line of defense against tumour formation and cancer development.

The immune system is composed of lymphatic vessels and organs (lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, adenoids, appendix and tonsils), bone marrow, white blood cells (neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, phagocytes), specialized cells residing in various tissues (macrophages, mast cells etc.) and specialized chemical factors. Following is a basic description of the immune system’s important components:

Lymphatic System – Lymph, Lymphatic Vessels, Lymphatic Tissue and Lymph Nodes

The lymphatic system produces white blood cells that fight disease and help the body to detoxify wastes. The space in between the cells is called the interstitium and the fluid contained within these spaces is called the interstitial fluid. This fluid flows into the lymphatic vessels and becomes the lymph – the fluid that flows through the body in lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessels transport lymphocytes and lymph around the body and drain waste products from the tissues. The lymphatic vessels transport the lymph to the lymph nodes, which filter the lymph. The lymph nodes serve two functions:

1. They remove foreign materials from lymph fluid before it enters the blood stream.

2. They are centres for the production of immune cells, particularly lymphocytes.

The cells responsible for filtering the lymph are called macrophages. These cells engulf and destroy foreign bacteria, old red blood cells and cellular debris. The lymph nodes also contain B-lymphocytes, the white blood cells that initiate antibody production in response to disease producing organisms.

We should consider our body’s lymph system as the ‘rubbish removal’ company. Put simply, the macrophages are the ‘garbage workers’ that collect and break down the wastes and employ other staff to make your internal city clean and disease free, the lymphatic vessels are the body’s ‘rubbish removal highways’ and the lymph nodes are ‘the garbage sorting dumps that remove the bad rubbish, keeps the goodies found in the rubbish and act as the hub for garbage workers (immune cells) waiting for a suitable job in the body’s rubbish removal company’.

Adenoids

The adenoids are an organ of the immune system that is found at the rear of the nose. It is made up primarily of lymphatic tissue. B-Lymphocytes are stored here in preparation to attack antigens (the enemy).

Appendix

The appendix is made up mostly of lymphatic tissue and helps the immune system by beginning some defense actions.

*82/34/5*

CANCER: EMOTIONAL OVERLOAD

Feelings and Emotions Experienced in Stages during Diagnosis, Treatment and Recovery from Cancer

When I first discovered I had cancer, I was in total disbelief. All that kept circulating through my mind was, ‘That’s impossible, they’ve made a mistake. I’ve always been so healthy. I couldn’t possibly have cancer’. I had always associated cancer with ‘sick’ people or ‘unlucky’ people. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

As time went on and I went through different stages of my treatment, I found myself also slipping into different types of emotions. Cancer doesn’t involve just one emotion, it is a rainbow of emotions all affecting us to different degrees, and at different times during our treatment and recovery.

Orthodox cancer treatment is aggressive and surgery can be mentally and physically uncomfortable. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy often causes more discomfort and pain than the initial disease. Treatment can extend over a number of weeks, months or even years and the patient is forced to deal with an array of emotional reactions caused by the treatment, as well as many physical and emotional side effects. It is difficult to convince yourself you are recovering when you feel so sick. It’s hard to be so optimistic, as everyone says when you feel much worse now than when you were first diagnosed. It seems in your mind and heart that this pain will never end. It’s hard to imagine ever feeling normal again, although this is a wish you hold closest to your heart.

Shock and Disbelief

Shock is the first emotion or feeling experienced upon the realization that you have cancer. When the doctor informs you, coldness rushes through your body, your spine tingles and it feels like your heart is being stabbed. Part of you wants to just fade away into the darkness and disappear forever. Very little desire is felt to talk to anyone, hear anything or to make any decisions. Your mind and body goes numb. There is very little anyone can do to ease your pain.

Shock is also felt by some family members and accompanies the feeling of disbelief. It is not unusual to want to panic, as we so often associate cancer with death and running out of time. It is important not to panic. In the majority of cases you do have time to make decisions, to make changes and decide which path is best suited to your healing. It may all seem so overwhelming and daunting in the beginning, but as time passes you will adapt mechanisms and attitudes to cope with the changes. It is natural to face the possibility of death and in facing the possibility of death, we also learn to face the probability of living!

The only thing that can help at this stage is simply patience – you must wait until the feelings pass. Shock, fear and panic in any situation, whether it be news of an accident, death of a loved one or loss of something precious to us, is natural and is released from our lives in time. One thing is sure, nothing in life is permanent. As time passes, life changes and our feelings of shock, grief and disbelief also pass.

We must remember that we do not all operate on the same emotional timetable. One family member may feel the need to talk, while others may feel like becoming private or introspective. It is important to let the person who has cancer decide the right time for discussion. For the family and friends involved, love, compassion, understanding and patience are needed to help the person involved feel secure and loved. If the person realizes they have plenty of support and understanding from precious loved ones, it can help bring the person out of shock faster than expected. Remember that it is a stage that all persons involved with cancer must go through. For the loved ones involved, just be patient and be there when everyone is ready to talk and open up.

*58/34/5*

CANCER: CHEMOTHERAPY AND ITS SIDE EFFECTS

Kidney Damage

This is a side effect, which is closely monitored by regular blood testing of creatinine levels before onset of treatment. Some of the chemotherapy drugs, particularly Cisplatin, can cause permanent kidney damage if not monitored correctly. It is important to drink adequate amounts of water and to eat kidney-supporting foods.

Lethargy/Tiredness

Chemotherapy treatment tends to deplete energy levels. This is cumulative as the drugs build up in your system. Often the doctor tells you if you have plenty of energy after the first session of treatments this will determine your energy later. This is generally not true. Energy levels get worse with more and more treatments.

Loss of Appetite

This is a secondary side effect of nausea, vomiting, worry or stress. A yellow coating can become obvious on the tongue, which is slimy and has a foul taste. This often leads to a decrease in appetite.

Lung Damage/Shortness of Breath

Lung damage and shortness of breath is another side effect which is closely monitored. The effects of lung damage (primarily scarring of the lungs) are long term and may last for many years. If you experience any shortness of breath, tell your doctor immediately.

Nausea/Vomiting

This is the most common side effect related to chemotherapy. The nausea is due to the stimulation of an area in the brain known as the trigger zone (vomiting centre). Today doctors are using and testing much more potent anti-nausea drugs to combat the ghastly nausea and vomiting of chemotherapy which often leads to weight loss and malnutrition. Today’s most common anti-nausea drugs are Zofran and dexamethasone (a steroid). According to doctors, Zofran has revolutionized chemotherapy. It may make you feel better while the drugs are being put into you but hours after treatment, the nausea generally returns with a vengeance.

There are also a number of side effects related to the use of these drugs and steroids including constipation, pimples, thrush, exhaustion, weight gain/loss, fluid retention, emotional instability and sleeplessness. Doctors will often prescribe milder anti-nausea drugs after treatment like Maxalon. There are a number of different brands of anti-nausea medications, all giving a Band-Aid effect and carrying their own side effects. Maxalon can make you feel like a zombie.

Reproductive System

The rapidly proliferating structures of the reproductive system are particularly sensitive to the actions of cancer drugs. Many women who are still experiencing menstrual periods will experience irregular menstruation during treatment. In some women, menstruation stops completely. If this happens, hot flushes may also occur. Men may have decreased sperm numbers and motility. Some drugs used in chemotherapy may cause temporary and sometimes permanent infertility.

Feeling tired or unwell during treatment may also decrease your sexual desire and ability- I found my menstruation was perfect, both during and after chemotherapy. I believe this was due to a healthy, supportive diet rich in the appropriate nutritional supplements, herbs and natural therapies. Some combinations of chemotherapy drugs offer only a 30 per cent chance of fertility after treatment.

Weight Loss/Gain

Chemotherapy affects each person very differently. Some people may experience weight loss due to difficulty in swallowing or nausea, while others may experience weight gain due to the use of steroids in treatment.

*34/34/5*

SOME COMMON MYTHS ABOUT CANCER AND CANCER PREVENTION

Cancer only happens to the elderly

Cancer can affect anyone at any age, even newborn infants. It is more common in the elderly, as cells become weaker as we age. This may be avoided if you keep your body in good condition with harmonious living techniques. However, we can all be affected by cancer, as there are many different causes and precursors that are not predetermined by age. We must be aware at any age.

Cancer is always a death sentence

In the past many cancers were deadly, as successful treatment was unknown. Today, cancer is becoming easier to detect and thus early treatment can be commenced. Advanced methods of treatment and a greater understanding of the causes of cancer also improves our chances to beat it. Even though cancer is becoming more common every year, more people are recovering every year. There is a vast array of options and useful information out there to assist in beating this modern-day illness. Natural methods of healing are also proving extremely successful in reversing cancerous growths.

Cancer only happens to negative, depressed people

Some of the happiest, most relaxed people in the world develop cancer. Our environment is becoming more toxic every year, radiation levels are increasing and additives in foods pop up everywhere. We are continually exposed to a deadly concoction of toxins, including car fumes, fluoride in drinking water and cigarette smoke, to name just a few. However, negative emotions can weaken the immune system, which will increase the possibility of developing cancer. Many people are simply negative or pessimistic by nature and venture through their entire lives without developing cancer. However, a positive attitude definitely plays a strong role in cancer prevention.

Cancer Prevention

Prevention is the most important tool we have in our fight against cancer. Some cancers are preventable, this is a proven fact. However, it can be difficult to prevent something if we do not know what actually causes it. Cancer is a condition in which cells grow abnormally. We do know that certain conditions lead to the onset and development of cancer. So how do we keep our cells in a healthy state and prevent toxins/carcinogens from affecting our cells and causing cancer?

Following a healthy lifestyle, incorporating a wholesome diet rich in antioxidants and regular exercise, with a positive attitude and stress-free living is a great way to start. Avoiding known carcinogens or cancer causing agents is very important.

It is difficult to completely avoid stress as we live in such a fast-paced society that a degree of stress is required, in order to live adequately. However, we can learn techniques to enable us to deal with and release stress much more effectively. One of the most important preventative tools is to avoid excess in your life. An excess of anything can lead to stress on your body’s cells, which will eventually lead to the onset of disease and possibly cancer.

*10/34/5*