I had heard about some of the damaging side effects of breast cancer treatment, but it wasn’t until I was directly in the thick of treatment that I knew exactly what would be involved. Even though I didn’t have chemotherapy or radiation, I did experience side effects from my mastectomy. I’m still experiencing some side effects, even a year later.
If you are seeking some advice to help ease side effects, please be sure to talk to your medical care providers. I did some of my own research on side effects and used whatever tips and tricks worked best for me. However, please keep in mind that you are a unique person, so what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you, and vice versa. Try not to be discouraged when seeking solutions, you will find a solution in time.
Following are common side effects of cancer treatment, along with ways to potentially manage them.
Nausea: Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy, and a variety of breast cancer treatment medicines. Eating smaller meals and snacks can help prevent nausea. Keep on track with meals and snacks, because skipping meals can backfire and make you feel even sicker to your stomach. Certain foods might set you off more than others. Avoid eating them for now, but it doesn’t mean forever. Try it again in time. Medication can change, and you might be able to eat it again. Just try not to let your stomach be empty for long. Sometimes you might be prescribed an anti-nausea medication, so make sure that you take it as prescribed.
Mouth sores: Mouth sores are a common side effect of chemotherapy and other breast cancer treatments. Tell your dentist what treatments you are undergoing, and he or she might be able to give you a custom treatment plan. Swish baking soda and water solution in your mouth a few times a day. This can help reduce or eliminate mouth sores altogether.
Hair loss: You can get a prescription from your doctor for a wig. They often need to call it “cranial prosthetics” so that medical insurance will cover it. There are also other head coverings that you can purchase such as scarves and hats. When it is really hot out or whenever you please, you don’t have to cover your head. Natural carrot, coconut, and olive oils rubbed on your scalp daily can stimulate hair growth.
Chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy: Chemotherapy can cause peripheral neuropathy that can cause tingling, burning, weakness, numbness, loss of balance, and other symptoms in hands and feet. Taxol, a type of chemotherapy drug, is the medicine that commonly causes neuropathy. If you ask a nurse to put ice in a glove so you can hold it while the Taxol drips, sometimes you can prevent or have minimal symptoms of neuropathy. The ice restricts blood vessels in your hands so Taxol won’t effect them.
Skin damage: Radiation often causes skin damage because radiation kills off healthy skin cells. The skin gets irritated and can hurt or itch. Doctors advise you to wear loose, comfortable clothing to treatments. Do not use anything abrasive or harsh soaps on the skin. Only use mild soap and water to ease the pain. Ask your doctor to prescribe an ointment that can help you feel better.
Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.