Tips For Providing Encouragement For Cancer Patients
More and more cancer patients are finding themselves finishing their original course of treatment only to have their doctor recommend they continue on with some form of adjunct therapy. Discouragement can easily set in when you find yourself in the midst of an extended cancer journey. Indeed – as the weeks extend into months and sometimes into years, it is often nearly impossible to “keep your chin up”.
Shortly before the turn of the 21st century, there was a great shift in the reasoning behind administering oral chemotherapy as an adjunct treatment following intravenously administered chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Before that time, cancer protocols that included oral chemotherapy were primarily for those with metastatic cancer. I am not qualified to explain, agree or debate the reasoning that led to this shift and, more importantly, that is not what I want to write about in this article. You can find some good information on this subject and I would encourage you to avail yourself of this information if your doctor is suggesting oral chemotherapy.
It is important to understand that due to the additional time your body is subjected to chemotherapy drugs, you may find some of the conditions you are already experiencing exacerbated – or at the least continuing.
I believe the most important issue to address in this short article is the emotional side of an extended visit. Your body, mind and spirit have been through a lot these past months and you want a reprieve. I remember telling God, when I was on my personal cancer journey, that I was tired of learning life lessons and I wanted summer vacation! So, how do you continue on, strong in mind and spirit during this next leg of your journey for the sake of your body?
First, I would advise you to rely on God for daily strength. Read Psalm 23 on a regular basis… it will be encouraging to you and point you to God. All of the rest of these tips will be greatly enhanced if you have a strong relationship with God.
- Experience the outdoors on a regular basis to stay strong mentally and emotionally is experience. If you are too weak to take a walk or a hike around your neighborhood, have someone drive you to a spot that you know will lift your spirits such as a local park, the beach, a lake or the mountains. Pack a folding chair, water bottle, sunglasses and hat so you can enjoy the beauty. If you are on any drugs that are photosensitive (sun-sensitive) make sure you wear long sleeves, slacks and a hat. Remember light colors will reflect the sun away from you to keep you cooler and more comfortable during hot weather.
- If the weather is inclement in your area during the time of extended treatment, watch videos of places in the world you find fascinating, exhilarating or relaxing. For me, a video of villages and vineyards along the Mediterranean will always “take me away”. What pushes your buttons? Is it reading books, knitting, writing poetry, sketching or just sitting quietly with a hot cup of cocoa? Whatever it is, DO IT for your emotional health.
- If you will be sans hair a while longer, now might be the time to be a bit wild and crazy, and purchase a wig in a different color and style! If your hair is coming back, buy some hair mascara in a couple of colors and highlight away.
- Maybe you some new surroundings are just what you need. When I was in the middle of treatment, I found myself wanting to move. I thought a move to a town home would be good for several reasons. My wise husband told me that making such a big decision at an emotional time was not a good idea. Instead of moving, we purchased new bedroom furniture. It was wonderful for two reasons. First, I was excited about having something new and second, it provided a fresh and beautiful environment for our love life. Cancer can definitely affect your sexual desires and abilities. If your cancer is a hormone related cancer such as uterine, ovarian or breast, your image of yourself as a woman – and a sexual being, may be very different than it was prior to cancer. Your physical body may be quite different as well. Your sex life might never be the same as it was – but that does not mean it cannot be good! Once you are healthy enough to engage in intercourse new surroundings can make it exciting and fun.
- Acupuncture can help immensely with discouragement, anxiety and panic attacks. Be certain to check with your doctor first before pursuing any alternative treatment like acupuncture.
- Aromatherapy can be help create a calm mood. In addition to its potential benefit emotionally, aromatherapy can be useful for everything from raising low white blood counts to reducing inflammation and muscle pain to helping combat nausea. A wonderful website to check out for information on essential oils is www.youngliving.com.
- There are a few herbs that may be helpful if you find yourself struggling with depression. Some of these are St John’s Wort, Gingko (Gingko Biloba), Licorice and Ginger. Talk with your doctor if you are considering using any herbs. Although you may experience great results with herbs, they can be contraindicated or even harmful based on many other potential health issues.
- One last thing to tell you about is a great product that will feed and nourish your new hair growth. Try is No Scary Hairy® Hair and Scalp Revival Serum. This product was developed by the young breast cancer survivor. It is available at some natural stores and online at: http://www.shoppristinebeauty.com.
Do what you can to keep your body, mind and spirit strong but also allow yourself days when you take a break – a break from it ALL. Your extended visit will, I trust, not last forever. Be gracious with yourself and allow yourself to be real with what you are feeling and thinking. It is alright to be needy. The time will come, by God’s grace, when you will be whole in body.