Chemotherapy treatments put the body’s immune system into shock. While the treatments are used to kill the cancer cells, they also damage normal, healthy cells. Common side-effects are: fatigue, pain, diarrhea, constipation, blood disorders, “chemo brain,” and loss of appetite. It can also effect the nervous system and patients experience: tingling, burning, weakness/numbness in extremities, muscle weakness, loss of balance, difficulty hearing and seeing, balance issues, shaking/trembling and headaches/stiff neck.
Cancer cells are fast-replicating. But, they are not the only fast-replicating cells in the body, the good cells like the ones that line the inside of the mouth and intestines; and those that make up our hair and bone marrow get destroyed in the process. That’s why cancer patients suffer from hair loss, mouth sores and nausea.
Radiotherapy (radiation) only targets the area of the body where the cancer is present. Most patients that are treated by radiation are fatigued and may show a reaction on their skin like a rash or redness. It can even permanently change the pigmentation of the skin or scar it. The body part being targeted can also become inflamed which can cause complications in that organ or area.
Most side-effects from these treatments dissipate when treatment ends. However, in some cases it can takes weeks or even years to be free of them. Long-term side effects can include heart, nerve, lung, kidney damage. It can also have an adverse effect on the reproductive organs. You should also discuss the risk of developing more cancer in the future because of the treatment.
Side-effects from these cancer therapies can be horrible to live with but they can be managed effectively. Use ginger to combat nausea, mouthwash (1tsp bicarbonate soda or salt in warm water a few times a day) to help with mouth sores, Fucoidan to help restore the destroyed bone marrow and hair cells as well as other painful effects from these treatments.
Talk with your treatment manager to construct a plan to combat side-effects before they start. Having coping strategies will help reduce the stress of enduring the treatments and their aftermath.