Going through cancer treatment – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – is a challenge in and of itself. What is often not known upfront are some of the side effects that accompany these treatments. Preparing ahead of time can help you create coping strategies and reduce the stress.
1. Lymphedema – this can happen after node dissection – either upper body or lower body. Once lymph nodes are removed, the lymph transit system is impaired causing a backlog of fluid which creates uncomfortable swelling. Taking precautions to reduce your risk of getting lymphedema are critical as there is no cure – only management.
2. Early Menopause – this can be triggered by chemotherapy. For some, regular periods come back, but for most, they do not. Since hormone replacement therapy is not advised for breast cancer patients, finding suitable herbal solutions can help. Also, look for wicking clothing – wicking nightwear and daywear – to alleviate some of the discomfort of sweating with the accompanying chill afterwards.
3. Fatigue – exercise is the antidote. As strange as it may sound, exercising will help you increase oxygen uptake, increase blood flow, reduce your risk of lymphedema and elevate self-esteem. Something as simple as a brisk walk. Or, join an exercise class with a group that understands your cancer needs – Healthy-Steps. Find a buddy to join you, especially for the days you don’t feel like getting out there.
You will get through this time much easier with some thought to coping with cancer ahead of time.