Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Summer Sun and Cancer Treatment

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;
As warmer weather begins and the warm sunny days get longer, its always beneficial to get out in the sun and soak up the vitamin D from the sun rays. When I was deep in chemo treatment and radiation I found  just sitting in the warm sun was a way of escaping the side effects and burning from the radiation. However, I also found  I needed to be careful in the sun because your skin becomes very sensitized to the sun from the chem treatment. In addition, I needed to be careful not to become dehydrated. I spent the summer in chemo treatment of 5 days in treatment for 5 hours a day and 3 weeks off, then do it again. The last month in treatment was to carry a 24 hour chemo pack and take radiation 5 days a week for a month. Great way to spend the summer but I didn't let it interfere with summer activities we had planned. I just had to be more careful in the sun.

The first thing I noticed was I didn't sweat much. Prior to cancer treatment I sweat like a race horse but now I didn't. The chemo treatment had changed my ability to deal with the heat and although I was careful  not to get too much sun or get sun burned, I didn't drink enough fluids which caused dehydration. I thought I could drink enough beer to keep from getting dehydrated but I underestimated the effects of treatment.

I spent the time in the sun all greased up and it reminded me of when my mother would coat baking potatoes with bacon grease to bake them in the oven. About every hour or so I would add more sun block.

The two things to be cautious of when in the sun and going through treatment are to protect your skin with the strongest sun block lotion available, and drink more fluids than you think you should drink. When I was being treated for dehydration I was informed by my Oncologist that beer is not a very good liquid to keep you hydrated. He recommended mass quantities of water or one of the athletic drinks.

So I encourage you to spend time this summer in the sun and be overly protective of your skin because the treatment makes it very dry. Drink more fluids than you think you need to when in the sun, as well as when you are in treatment to avoid getting dehydrated. The cure for dehydration is sitting in an infusion chair having large bottles of fluids pumped into you until your hydration level is normal. The test to see if you are dehydrated is to pinch about an inch of skin on your arm close to your wrist and if the skin stays standing and pinched when you release it, you are dehydrated.

Don't let enjoying the sun and summer be taken away from you because of cancer treatment and the fear of getting sun burned or dehydrated. Just be careful and enjoy the summer.

Stay stong, keep your sense of humor and never give up.

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