What NOT To Do On Chemo: Dos and Dont's of Chemotherapy
When you receive a diagnosis of cancer that requires chemotherapy, it can be a shock to your very core. There's so much medical information to digest and so much of it can be very difficult for a layman to understand. The doctors will tell you what to do, sure, that's what they're there for. But what is there not to do? What should I avoid? They can't possibly cover every conceivable mistake you could make, right?
Well, no. But no one expects them to. However, for those worried or just looking for a little bit of friendly guidance from someone who has been through it, here are a few idea of what not do do when on chemo.
Don't Trust "Well Meaning" Advice
As soon as you receive any type of diagnosis, especially of cancer, it seems that everyone and their brother will be coming out of the woodwork to give you their own special cures and tips. We should all consider ourselves blessed to have so many people who want to help us out, but Aunt Eloise's special diet is probably not going to cure your cancer. Your chemotherapy will.
One of the major don'ts of chemotherapy is to make major life changes that you don't need to. Most doctors will recommend keeping to a fairly regular diet with some additions or subtractions as necessary. For instance, when I started chemo my doctor strongly warned me off of fad diets involving anti-oxidants as they could interfere with my treatment.
It can be hard enough to keep your life together with all the changes you'll be going through. Don't change your diet to some kooky fad just because an acquaintance read an article somewhere one time. Discuss all dietary changes with a doctor and a nutritionist before and during your treatment.
Don't Compare Your Treatment To Others
There are a million different variations of cancer and no single person's treatment will be the same. If your neighbor has the exact same type of cancer in the exact same place, chances are they need a slightly different mix of drugs due to body weight, medical history, or doctor preference. One of the things not to do on chemotherapy is to compare your treatment cycle to those around you. It will only lead to pointless guessing and comparing.
In this battle you are on your own. You have support: your friends, family, doctors, nurses, and millions of other things, but it is still just one person fighting. Don't get caught up in trying to compare someone else's war to your own.
Do Not Miss Treatments
This one can not be said enough. One of the major don't of chemo is to miss a treatment! Just don't do it! Oncologists will specially plan out weeks and months of treatment down to the last day to make sure your body is getting the full amount of healthy drugs it can handle with the proper amount of rest in between. In my case, even a single missed day was shown to have negative effects on the overall outcome of the treatment.
For this reason, make it your number one priority to attend every chemotherapy infusion session. If you are too ill, transportation can be provided to ensure you arrive on time. If weather is bad and makes travel difficult, a hospital stay may be required to ensure that the chemo arrives on time.
A lot of pain and suffering can be avoided by attending your chemotherapy appointments on time. Of course, staying motivated can be an issue... which brings us to-
Everyone is going to tell you that you're the bravest warrior in the whole wide world, but the truth is you're just a regular person with a disease trying to get through it and move on with their lives. That doesn't mean there won't be down days. Being sick is difficult and some of the treatments will feel worse than you did before the diagnosis. This is all part of getting better. Listen to your doctor and stay well.
The biggest "Do Not" for chemotherapy is to just give up, to start moping. Enjoy yourself. Listen to your body. Do you feel well for the first time all week? Skip the fruits and veggies and have a big ol' cheesesteak. Whatever it is that picks you up in the day, go ahead and do it and don't feel guilty about it. It could mean the difference between staying strong when you need it and making a mistake.
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