If you or a loved one is battling breast cancer, you’re probably aware of some side effects of treatment. From abdominal pain to weight changes, they can vary or be consistent across all the treatments in your plan.
The first step to getting relief is to find out exactly what is causing your side effects. They may be triggered by the treatments themselves or by certain medications you’re taking. Below is a partial list of side effects and tips to reduce them.
Managing nausea during breast cancer treatment
Nausea is linked to nearly every form of breast cancer treatment, from chemotherapy to hormonal and targeted therapies. To get relief, try these tips:
- Ask your doctor about anti-nausea medications you can take before or along with your breast cancer treatment. There are even anti-nausea medications you can take with pain medications that nauseate you.
- Eat like a bird all day long, so you don’t get too full too quickly.
- Eat dry foods like crackers, toast and cereal.
- Go for ginger-based foods like ginger ale, ginger tea or crystallized ginger.
- Try acupuncture, relaxation and visualization to reduce nausea.
Easing the depression side effect
If you’re feeling exhausted, helpless, worthless and hopeless, talk to your doctor to pinpoint the source of what you’re feeling. Is it depression or extreme fatigue? Or is one of the medicines you’re taking fueling your depression? In that case, your doctor may be able to switch you to another medication.
There are also many therapies that can help ease depression, such as:
- Music therapy
- Tai chi
Getting relief from headaches caused by breast cancer treatment
Here are a few ways to ease headaches:
- Stretch often, starting with your head, neck and shoulders, then stretch your arms, legs and back.
- Get plenty of sleep to help combat
- Quit or avoid smoking: It’s a headache trigger.
- Don’t skip meals(unless you want a headache).
- Don’t add caffeine to your diet with soda, coffee or chocolate; all of which can spark headaches.
Hair loss during breast cancer treatments
To help you or your loved one manage the physical and emotional aspects of hair loss or other hair changes, try:
- Cutting your hair short when you start to lose it to get an idea of what it will look like when it begins to grow back.
- Seeing a wig expert before you start chemotherapy (if you plan to wear a wig). The specialist can see your current hairstyle and color, and likely recommend a wig that closely resembles your natural hair.
- Wearing cold caps filled with gel. These snug fitting caps are chilled to between -15 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold caps have helped some women keep some or quite a bit of their hair during chemotherapy.
- Using wraps, hats and turbans to protect your head and add a touch of style.
- Preparing for your new hair to grow in with a different color, texture or wave. But don’t worry, these changes are usually temporary.
Countering the dehydration side effect
Here are some tips to stay hydrated:
- Drink plenty water, 100% fruit juices, milk and low-sodium broth.
- Go light on caffeinated coffees, teas and colas. Caffeine acts as a diuretic; flushing precious water out of your system.
- Eat foods with high water content, like fruits and vegetables (many are more than 90% water!) Low-sodium soups, popsicles, and gelatins are also high in water.
- “Spice up” plain water by adding lime, lemon or orange slices, or even a splash of fruit juice.
Exceptional, accessible breast cancer care is right here in your own backyard
To beat breast cancer, you need superior care from dedicated, experienced oncologists who are close by. Alpha Med Physicians Group offers total support and advanced breast cancer surgery in Tinley Park, Homewood, Palos Heights and the greater Chicago area. Our uniquely holistic approach to cancer care is designed to save you stress, hassle, time and cost. We provide a full range of medical and radiation oncology, genetic testing, clinical trial placement, an accredited onsite lab and financial counseling. All in one location. And all without a hospital stay and the costs associated with it. When it comes to giving you every advantage in your battle with cancer, we’re in your corner.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 708-342-1900 or click here to use our online form.