Women's Health

Ovarian Cancer: What You Should Know About Chemotherapy

Ovarian Cancer: What You Should Know About Chemotherapy

There’s no better way of putting it: Cancer sucks. The chemotherapy that people take to treat their cancers often ends up making them feel more miserable than the cancer itself was doing before treatment started. People often walk out of chemotherapy feeling broken down, miserable, and sick to their stomachs. The loss of appetite, combined with constant nausea, make it difficult for chemotherapy patients to maintain healthy nutrition levels and weight limits.

Chemotherapy is necessary for a lot of people and has been proven to fight away many cancers for many patients. There are a few options out there that can help a patient get through chemotherapy while minimizing side effects and aiding in providing at least a little bit of comfort for the patient.

When someone is going through cancer, there a number of questions that a patient and their loved ones should ask the doctor in order to prepare the battle plan that with help the patient cope with chemotherapy and its side effects.

20 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Chemotherapy

Your doctor will be your best source of information about the chemotherapy medicine you or your loved one are taking. Ask your doctor to answer all of your questions about the drug.

  1. Does your doctor think that chemotherapy is the best option, why is he or she recommending it and what are his or her expectations about the treatment?
  2. Also ask your doctor if there are any other similar options currently available.
  3. What is the success rate for chemotherapy and for your doctor in particular?
  4. What is the chance of the cancer becoming active again after chemotherapy?
  5. Are there any current clinical trials in case the chemo does not work?
  6. What does your doctor think are the risks of chemotherapy?
  7. What side effects should you expect during and after treatment?
  8. What will the plan be if you start to lose too much weight?
  9. Are there any natural and herbal remedies that can help you with the side effects?
  10. Is there anything that can help with loss of appetite or inability to hold down food?
  11. Are there any remedies that can help with fatigue if it becomes a problem?
  12. Will the treatment affect fertility?
  13. If the treatment might affect fertility, are there any options to preserve eggs or sperm?
  14. What can you do to prepare for chemo? Are there natural solutions to boost your immune system?
  15. Should you try mineral supplements, corrective colloidal vitamins, medicinal mushrooms and foods high in potassium?
  16. Should you cut foods that are high in sodium, salt, and dairy products?
  17. Should you have a regime in place before starting chemotherapy?
  18. Have you told your doctor about all of the natural treatments you are considering trying or have already started taking?
  19. How much water should you drink during chemotherapy and in between treatments and should you try peppermint tea or fresh ginger to help with nausea?
  20. How many meals should you eat regularly and what size portions? Will smaller, multiple meals help versus larger, fewer meals?

10 Tips You Should Know About Chemotherapy

  1. You probably won't be able to get your teeth cleaned during chemo and will likely get sores in your mouth, so you will want to get your teeth cleaned before you start chemo. You can help prevent mouth sores by brushing up to five times a day and rinsing with a gentle mouthwash or baking soda mix several times a day.
  2. Start thinking about how you are going to deal with hair loss. Many people make the option to have their hair shaved off before having to deal with it falling out. Shaving their hair gives them a sense of control at deciding when it should go instead of waiting and watching it come out in clumps at a time.
  3. If you make the choice to have your hair shaved off ahead of time, you may be able to find a service that can make your wig (or wigs) out of your own natural hair. Many women love this option and many who don't do this say they wish they would have.
  4. Chemotherapy dries out your lips, face, and body a lot. You will want to stock up on body lotion, face moisturizer, and lip moisturizer.
  5. Your skin may begin to lose color and look pale or transparent. You may want to invest in some tinted moisturizer makeup, tinted powder and feel-good makeup, accessories, and or hats that make you feel good about yourself when you are going through chemotherapy.
  6. Looking good on the outside naturally makes people feel a little better on the inside. Buy some clothes that are comfortable, but not pajamas, to wear during chemotherapy. Some people refer to these outfits as chemo uniforms and like the workout type of clothes so much more than baggy sweats.
  7. Get some really good Cancer cookbooks. These books have special meals that are made from some healthy ingredients that are designed to help with the different side effects associated with cancer and chemotherapy, including loss of appetite and nausea. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying any.
  8. Find a support group or form one with the group of cancer fighters that you will start to see at your regular appointments.
  9. Find a chemo buddy or try to schedule your family members and friends so that they are rotating (if you bring the same chemo buddy to each visit you will both start to bore each other).
  10. Pack your chemo survival kit, full of activity books, phone chargers, lip balm, headphones or anything else that brings you comfort or helps you pass the time. Consider bringing a laptop with a built-in DVD player or a portable DVD player to your chemo visits.

How to Help a Loved One Going Through Chemotherapy

When you are watching a loved one go through chemotherapy and cancer, you may often feel helpless at alleviating their discomfort. Although there may not be much that you can do to help them through the pain, there are a number of things that you can do to help them get through it:

  • Let them know up front that you will be there for them as much as possible. Send them cards and flowers and leave them nice voice mails and text messages, letting them know how much you care.
  • Offer to help them with extra chores outside of chemotherapy, such as housework, child care or pet care.
  • Pack a chemotherapy survival kit or comfort bag, full of games, activity books, books, DVD player, cd player, and phone or laptop chargers.
  • Bring lotion and lip balm to help them through the dryness that chemotherapy brings.
  • Hold their hand and love them deeply.

Additional Resources

National Cancer Institute www.cancernet.nci.nih.gov
The National Cancer Institute web site has some of the most recent cancer information and news from the National Cancer Institute. This agency is headed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

American Cancer Society www.cancer.org
With over 2 million volunteer and over 3,000 local chapters, the ACS works endlessly to end cancer through prevention, saving lives, education, and advocacy.

Cancer Care, Inc. www.cancercare.org
This nonprofit organization began in 1994 to offer emotional support, information, practical help, and additional support to help people with all types of cancer and their loved ones find hope and live full lives after a diagnosis.