If you're a cancer patient, you know the side effects of treatment can be difficult to deal with. Whether you're just starting treatment and haven't experienced problems yet, or whether the side effects are already very apparent, there are complimentary therapies and approaches you can use to help soothe the side effects. You can check out these three and see if they help you become more comfortable and better able to handle your days.
Sometimes the side effects from the treatments are actually side effects of your anticipation of the treatment. Vomiting and nausea, for example, can be anticipatory. It's the thought of your upcoming treatments that is making you nauseous and not the treatments themselves. A literature review published in 2001 in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" reported that methods such as cognitive/attentional distraction may be able to help with side effects occuring during treatment, such as anxiety, and hypnosis and relaxation techniques may be able to help soothe anticipatory nausea. These are only samples of what can be done.
It's common for cancer patients to find food and odors to be too disgusting to deal with due to nausea and increased sensitivity. One overall dietary approach is to take meals and food slowly, calmly, and in small portions. Keeping the food cool and bland is important because spices and very hot food can trigger a reaction. If food odors are a problem, you may have to ban other household members from cooking very smelly food for the duration of your treatment. The UC San Francisco Medical Center also notes that you shouldn't try to make yourself eat foods you normally like because you could begin to associate those foods with your treatment and the side effects, leading you to dislike the foods. The Center also suggests keeping track of which foods tend to have stronger or weaker effects on you.
While acupuncture's role in actually treating cancer is up for debate, it does show promise for helping to soothe side effects and to boost your health overall. The National Cancer Institute says that acupuncture treatments might enable the body to release painkilling substances like endorphins and boost weakened immune systems.
Talk to your cancer treatment team about these therapies and see if the hospital you go to offers the treatments along with dietary guidance. Controlling the side effects of treatment is essential for helping you successfully complete the entire treatment.