Know exactly what your treatment involves
It can take several days or weeks before you meet with a specialist to learn more about your diagnosis, and this time can be filled with anxiety and fear. To help you cope, you should learn the following:
- How to prepare for treatment
- What to expect during treatment
- Learning how to cope and control anxiety and depression
- How will you take care of yourself?
- Practice healthy habits
Speak to your Cancer Care Team
With a few simple steps, you can feel stronger and more prepared, even if you seem like you have no control. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you and your cancer care team understand what your treatment entails. Stress can worsen if you do not know what treatment is like, what your options are, and where to get help.
Discuss the following points
- What will happen during treatment?
- How long will the treatment take?
- What are the potential side effects?
- What is the ultimate goal of your treatment?
Practice Healthy Habits
The waiting for treatment can be stressful. The way you feel before treatment influences how you feel during treatment, which can impact your recovery and worsen side effects. To ensure you feel your best, it is important to keep your mental and physical health in good condition before treatment begins.
Consider changing a few things in your daily life
1. Eat Healthy
Healthy cells can be killed by treatment, so it is important to begin treatment as strong and healthy as possible. This will help you cope with the side effects more easily.
During treatment, you may not be able to exercise as much. Starting treatment fit and healthy will help you regain strength more quickly when treatment ends.
3. Mental Health
Learn different de-stress techniques like meditation or yoga. Or you may want to try talking to a therapist.
Practical Concerns of cancer treatment
There are times when frustrations and anxieties aren't actually related to cancer, but to practical concerns. It can be difficult to accept that you might not be able to do everything, but remember to ask for help when you need it.
It can be very helpful if you think about how you will take care of yourself at home. What might you need assistance with? By doing this, you can plan around your day-to-day life and make things easier.
- Plan ahead and prioritise things that need doing most.
- After treatment, pace yourself and take breaks. Don't over do it, as side effects can become worse.
- Spread tasks out over the week.
- Ask family or a friend to help with the food shop. They can do it online for you, if you are not able to look at food due to nausea.
- Make a list before, so you do not waste energy or time.
- Ask shop staff for help pack and carry groceries to the car.
- Sit when preparing food. Create a space where you can do this.
- Prepare extra dishes or double portions of food and freeze them for when you need them.
Washing & Dressing
- Have a bath, if you don't have the energy to stand.
- Ask your doctor if they can give you a shower chair.
- Buy clothes that are easy to take on and off.
- Sit down when getting dressed or ironing.
Ask for Help
- You might need to ask people to help with specific jobs, like picking up the kids, walking the dog or cutting the grass.
- You might need someone to drive you to and from treatments. You might feel fine after a session but this can change at any time. The other benefit of bringing someone with you is for emotional support.
Speak to Someone
If you need to ease uncertainty, anxiety, or fear, connect with other people who have cancer. This can be through a charity, fb groups or any other social media.
Things to prepare before treatment starts
Before treatment starts there are some things you need to know. For instance, if you are having chemo the first 48 hours after treatment, small amounts of chemotherapy drugs will leave your body through urine, vomit and other body fluids. It is important to keep these chemicals away from yourself and others in your home.
See a Dentist
- If you haven’t seen your dentist in the past 6 months, it’s a good idea to have a checkup before starting chemotherapy.
- Treating any infections before you begin chemotherapy can help lower the risk of complications during treatment, as well as delays in treatment.
Expect Changes in Your Appearance
- Chemo and radiation may cause hair loss, weight loss, or skin rashes as side effects. Prepare yourself for these possibilities.
- Ask your doctor what changes to expect, this will make it less shocking when it happens.
- A top tip for people with long hair, is to get it cut short. This helps the hair loss stage seem less aggressive and your hair will look fuller.
Create Recovery Space
Think about where you might need to recover, like your living room or bedroom.
- Can you get to water easily?
- Are there outlets nearby for laptop and phone chargers?
- Drawers to keep medications nearby?
- Do you like what you see? Decorate with things that make you feel good, like plants and pictures of your family.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions or check out our 'Chemotherapy Safety at Home' blog post for more info.