Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dealing with the Pain from Treatment

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;
The physical pain caused by cancer treatment can be unbelievable. As treatment progresses, the pain from  chemo treatment or the radiation treatments will increase as well. How you deal with the pain is your choice. Your Oncologist will ask you how you are feeling. You need to explain the pain you are experiencing. Pain suppressant medication can be prescribed to help you deal with the pain.

During my treatment of chemo I found the pain to progress as treatment progressed. The pain seemed to be compounding, getting stronger and more encompassing over my body. What started as the aches and pains like that from a bought with the flu, progressed to the point I could not sleep at night because I physically ached all over. The pain would wake me up and it would keep me up the rest of the night. There were times I would just lay in bed and try not to move. As soon as I moved the pain would strike, reoccur and stay with me.

I used aspirin during the day for as long as I could but would then have to resort to prescribed medication in the evening, otherwise I would not be able to sleep. The pain from radiation treatment was more concentrated to the area being treated. The pain was both external as well as internal. My chest was red and burned and the inside of my throat raw from radiation. Eating and swallowing food caused sever pain in my throat. Prescribed cream helped deal with the burn on my chest.

As my chemo treatment continued, I learned to deal with the pain during the day by staying busy, which distracted my attention away from the pain. Although I found the bottoms of my feet never hurt so bad as they did when I was in chemo treatment.Staying busy took my mind off the pain. It didn't make the pain go away, it just distracted me from dwelling on it. Evenings after dinner were difficult. I would notice the pain as I watched TV or went to bed and tried to fall asleep.

One activity I found that did help keep the pain level down was exercise, any physical exercise: walking, swimming, weight lifting, mowing the lawn, all made the pain level subside or at least made the pain more tolerable. I also found that having a few cold beers at the end of the day helped as well.

The diagnosis of cancer and the rigor of cancer treatment, create enough emotional pain to deal with, without having to endure the strong physical pain that accompanies you on your treatment journey. Learning to deal with the pain is an acquired skill. You will need find what works for you and be proactive in managing and dealing with the pain. I encourage you to be as active as your physical strength and stamina will allow. The activity whether mental or physical, creates enough distraction that you will not be able to dwell on the pain. I found as soon as I became inactive, the pain level settled in and I couldn't make it subside without the help of medication. Enduring physical pain will drain you of the energy and strength you need for treatment and recovery. Don't let the physical pain from cancer treatment make you a victim.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Make It Work

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;
More cancer patients today are surviving cancer than ever before and more people are living with cancer than ever before. When you are diagnosed with cancer and before you have gotten through the shock of the diagnosis, your cancer treatment team will have already begun to do everything possible to cure your cancer. The question is: What are you going to do now to help your cancer treatment team win this battle you are in?
This is the worst battle of your life and for your life. Cancer is a relentless enemy that works on your body 24/7 with no time off for holidays and vacation. Relying solely on your cancer treatment team to fight this battle with cancer for you, is nothing more than a good intention, and hoping they don't lose. The cancer patient can chose the be a  victim and a specimen and have treatment done to them. Or the cancer patient can decide to help make the treatment work.

Chemo treatment is a high stakes poker game where your oncologist and cancer treatment team are trying to kill your cancer before the treatment kills you. Your body will take the worst chemical abuse it has ever endured with chemo and radiation treatment. You can't sit on the side line. You have to help your body endure the treatment, stay healthy during treatment,and stay as strong as possible.

 This sounds easier than it is to execute. I was there.But while I was sitting in an infusion chair five days a week for five hours a day, I couldn't help thinking: What should I be doing to help with the treatment? Over the course of my treatment being challenged by this thought, I concluded there were three Must Get Rights. First: Join the Journey. Learn everything  about your cancer, treatment protocol being used, the success rate with the protocol, understanding your blood work results and CT and PET scan results. Second: Feed the System. A tired and undernourished soldier can't fight a long battle. Feed your body much higher nutrition especially high antioxidant and protein content foods. Physically exercise to keep your system and body functioning. The data shows that cancer patients that exercise regularly while undergoing treatment have better treatment success.  Feed the system mentally by not dwelling on the fact you have cancer and are in treatment. Stay as active as you are physically able. Activity keeps your mind off the cancer and the pain it may be causing you. Third: Decide to Live. Don't let cancer and the treatment strip you of your life. You are not sick, you just have cancer. So, keep living your life.

Most importantly, find what works for you. You will have to figure out what you can and cannot do. What you should do and shouldn't. The more you Make It Work, the greater control you will have over your own destiny and treatment outcome. Being diagnosed with cancer is like being thrown out of a perfectly good air plane with a parachute that's a streamer and won't open. As the ground is rushing up to you, You Now Have the Rest of Your Life to Make It Work.

Stay strong, keep your sense of humor, make it work, and never ever give up.