Getting ready for chemo?

How to prepare yourself for cancer treatment?

Chemo therapy is a long and complex process. During the treatment you should take care of your body as well as your mind.

You should prepare yourself before you even start the chemo. You might think like this: fighting cancer is like playing chess, you need to know the moves so you can learn to defend yourself and win the game.

You have only one goal : stay alive while maximizing the your quality of life.

During the treatment, there are some things you have control of: diet, sleep, daily exercise and mental health.

You need to learn about your illness. Paying attention to side effects of the disease as well as from taking medication. When you learn about these you can find solutions. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

If you are an individual, being treated for cervical cancer,
you might get radiotherapy or chemo therapy treatment or both.
Don’t fall into the trap of “being the disease.”

Common side effects of chemotherapy might be:
Pain; headache, achy muscles, backache
Sores in the mouth and throat
Nausea and vomiting
Blood disorders ( low iron level )
Appetite loss
Hair loss
Nervous system effects: tingling, burning sensation, weakness or numbness in the hands and/or feet.
Loss of balance, walking problems
Skin burn from sunlight

Learn about these side effects so you know what to do prevent or deal with them.

Do not forget, not every patient gets all of these symptoms.
Two years ago I took 6 chemo session and 35 radiotherapy. First three session of chemo I was fine. I continued my daily work life. After the fourth chemo, my health quickly declined. Fatigue and nausea were strong. By the time I finished my last chemo, I could not even walk. My husband had to help me to our car with a wheel chair. My iron level was critically low, so I took one unit blood transfusion at the hospital.

Are you already feeling demoralized? Don’t. I am writing this article to tell you I feel much better now. This year I received six more chemo session and I did not have any drastic side effects.

Because I prepared myself far better this time. I paid better attention to my diet, sleeping habit, took a well considered group of supplements and exercised daily. The most important factor, I forced myself to always think positive.

About Cancer Diet

Let me outline what I have done during the last six months:

I started to eat smaller portions every 2-3 hours.
Every morning I eat one boiled or scrambled egg.
I cook all dishes with virgin olive oil.
To spice up the food, I used paprika, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and tomato paste. I avoid eating too hot and spicy food.
Every morning I drank a glass of juice. One of these: grape juice, orange juice, plum juice, raspberry, or blackberry juice ( no sugar added ) .

I have not consumed any table sugar. Instead I used Stevia. When I craved for sweet, I ate not more than teaspoon of honey or grape molasses.

Instead of drinking black tea, I started to drink caffeine-free green tea. I also consumed a lot of herbal tea every day. Such as, linden tea, chamomile, rosehip tea, sage tea, lemon-ginger tea. I made most of the tea from scratch.

For chemo headaches every morning I had a small cup of Turkish coffee with milk. Only one cup. Other than that I avoid caffeine.

I tried to drink at least 2-3 liters(quarts) of water every day to stay hydrated.
I eat home cooked foods, rich in iron.
For lunch usually I had soup either miso, lentil or clam chowder.

I did not eat red meat, except a small amount steak once a week. I also eat liver every week. Boiled chicken breast or turkey ( no skin ) was in my plate every week.

I avoid eating any fried food. I did not consume any junk food or fast food meals. If I wanted to eat popcorn or potato chips, instead I ate seaweed.

I avoid eating food which gave me gas such as green lentil or white beans. However you should eat soy beans, ( edamame or tofu). It is really good for you.

I also consumed high iron seafood such as mussel, oysters, clams. Salmon and tuna also great.

After grinding them.I added seeds in my food such as caraway seeds, nigel seed ( nigella sativa), flax meal.
I often eat peanut butter and almond butter on my muffins. I cooked my muffins without sugar, and added protein powder.

Every day I eat cottage cheese or mozzarella cheese, because they both are high protein.

I ate plain yogurt. It helped to digest food better for me.

You need to pay attention how much protein you are getting every day. For me as 60 kg (132 lb) woman, when I was healthy 52 gr of protein would be enough, but while under chemo, I should get 70 gr protein.
So I started to drink protein drinks every night to boast with my protein.

Vitamin supplements worked great for my energy level as well as my gut.
Daily I took these supplements:
Vitamin C : 2500mg / once a day
Vitamin D: 2000Iu / once a day
Vitamin B12: / once a day
Fish Oil ( Omega ) : 325mg / once a day
Saltstick® Caps / once a day
Iron: 65mg / once a day
CoQ10: / once a day
Probiotic / once a day
Glucosamine HCI: 1500mg/ once a day
Green Tea Extract: 500mg / once a day
Calcium tablet: 500mg / günde 1
Modified Citrus Pectin:1500mg / Twice a day
Alpha-lipoic acid: 600mg / once a day, do not take it with iron supplement same time. Take it a few hours later.

Eat lots of green veggies as well as fruits such as, blackberries,
raspberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, apples, pineapples and tomatoes. If you can not eat these at least drink no sugar added juices.
Consume cruciferous vegetables including: broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower (this is good for both the cancer and the critical protection of the liver). Carrots and mushrooms are also good.

Avoid eating oily, hot, spicy foods.

Body hygiene

Try to take warm bath as often as possible. If you lost your hair, after showering your head always put lotion to keep your head skin moist.

Wash your hands often and keep your fingernails short. Keep anti-bacterial wipes in your pocket all the time.

During chemo limit your handshakes and kissing habit. When you are not at home stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you.

Avoid going to the shopping center after the chemo day. Your immune system will be weak, do not take unnecessary risk. Do your best to avoid germs.

Use a soft tooth brush. Brush your teeth 4-5 times a day. You may get mouth sore. Do not panic, it is easy to cure it. Every day use baking soda and warm water to rinse your mouth. Also salt water gargle helps.

Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
Do not expose yourself under sun much. If you need to be outside wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. Your skin will be sensitive to sun light.

If you are cooking, ventilate kitchen very well to avoid food smell. Your nose will be very sensitive to smell, use lotions which are fragrant free. Smell follows with nausea. I took sugar-free breath-mint. It usually worked but sometimes I used Lorazepam.

You can rest after meal. Taking short naps are very useful. If within your power, try to walk bit after meals, it helps to digest better, instead of laying down after eating.

Many chemo drugs cause hair loss. Do not hung up about it. Hair grows back eventually. You can always wear, a hat, scarf or wig. If you lost eyelashes and eyebrows then learn to use eye pencil, and wear sunglasses. It worked on my case.

Eating healthy meals makes huge difference in your treatment. You need to stay strong, then exercise every day, even simple 15 minutes walks helps. I used exercise bike every night 3 miles.

Your muscles will get sore by sitting too long and lying down, You should get up and move your legs. If you feel achy then take bath in warm water 30 minutes. Always worked for me, I tried to limit my intake of pain killer.

Most importantly keep your spirit positive. Stay and feel connected to others. Chat with your friends, read good books, watch funny movies, be optimistic. Do whatever makes you happy during this long journey. Try yoga or meditation, it is all good. Hold on to your family, friends and life. You can win the battle!

PS: Standard disclaimer: This is not medical advice. I am sharing my experience in a hope you may find something useful to win the war.