Karen was a person with a great attitude. ‘Never Say Never’ motto succinctly described her. So, when she was first detected with Breast Cancer, rather than being bogged down by the “C” word, she chose to fight back. However after some sessions of Chemotherapy, her dear ones could see a drastic change in her. For two days after the treatment, she would not be able to see any of her well-wishers.
I chose to dig into the matter to understand if the treatment, in itself, was the really worry. Before proceeding to the topic, first let us understand the types of treatment a Breast Cancer patient has to undergo: Surgery and Radiation therapy, also called as local therapies, are aimed to treat the tumour at the site without disturbing the rest of the body. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy, types of systemic therapy, are drugs that are administered orally or directly injected into the blood stream to reach the cancer cells that are present anywhere in the body.
The choice of treatment depends on various factors such as the patient’s situation, the stage of cancer and the goal of the cancer therapy. Though both the forms of treatment annihilate the constantly dividing cancer cells, they are capable of attacking the healthy cells as well. That is where the big factor called, side effects kicks in.
Some of the Side effects of the Breast Cancer Therapy are
The type of Chemotherapy that the patient undergoes, decides if there will be thinning of hair or complete loss of it. Losing hair for a woman can be extremely emotional. The market is replete with a variety of wigs to support breast cancer patients. So, help the patient choose the right kind of wig or suggest the patient to get a short haircut. That will help her prepare to see herself in the mirror in a new way! Again, do not forget that in most cases, hair do grow after the treatment is over.
Mouth and Throat Soreness
Remedies directed to treat the cancer can also affect the mouth and throat. The dry itchy sensation and the pain accompanied herewith while swallowing food can be attributed to the therapies. Best way to take care of this is to shun spicy foods and try cod milk products. Rinse your mouth to maintain as much oral hygiene as possible.
Loss of Appetite
There is a fair chance that the patient experiences a loss of appetite; the olfactory and gustatory senses take a hit. In that case, try to chart out a flexible and healthy diet plan that will replenish the lost fluids, proteins and calories.
Weakness and Fatigue
The side effect mentioned in the previous point leads to the current one i.e. Weakness and Fatigue. The patient might have to make an extra effort to move the arms and legs and going by the daily chores might look like a humongous task! Eat foods rich in iron and take enough rest to beat tiredness.
Lowered Resistance to Infections
Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy can heavily disrupt the white blood cells production. That mars the body’s capability to fight infections. In such a case, the best thing is to stay away from crowded places to avoid contracting an infection.
Bleeding and Bruising problems
Normally, when we get hurt, blood starts clotting to avoid its loss. Platelets assist the formation of blood clots. Similarly, bruises occur when an injury crushes blood vessels under the skin. This tear lets the blood ooze. Here, again, platelets help clot the blood.
Certain treatments directed towards breast cancer cells can reduce the platelets in the body thus exposing the patient to bleeding and bruising more often than the rest. In such a case, the patient must approach her doctor and get the right medications.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
As the name suggests, this kind of disorder brings about a lot of anxiety due to the traumatic event. PTSD severely interferes with the patient’s ability to cope with life’s daily chores. Nightmares, avoiding people and places, extreme irritability, hallucinations are some of the symptoms of PTSD.
These are some of the side effects during the Breast Cancer Therapy. Nonetheless, help the patient realise that there is panacea for the deadliest of the diseases and that is pure love from her near-and-dear ones that will help her fight against all odds and bring her out of this patch of life.