Majority of patients diagnosed with cancer have to undergo Radiation treatment. This therapy can destroy or “de-bulk” the cancerous growths to make it easier for surgeons to remove it. Radiation also helps prevent the spread of the disease to other healthy body parts. While the therapy itself is painless, it can lead to debilitating side effects. Most common side effects include hair loss, skin problems and loss of appetite etc.
The National Cancer Institute recommends some food items to include as part of one’s diet following radiation therapy. Primarily, to cope with weight loss, fatigue and soreness accompanying radiation therapy, the following steps must be included:
- Drinking plenty of cool liquids
- Consuming foods with mild flavors and aromas
- Avoiding raw vegetables
- Drinking milkshakes, eggnog and liquid supplements
Additionally, cancer and cancer treatment affects how the patient feels. The disease and its treatment influence how one works, his/her hobbies and quality of life. Cancer treatment and after-care guidelines hence stress upon not only taking care of the body but also of the mind during and after the treatment.
A radiation therapist from a great school to visit can help orient the patient and his/her family to cope better with the physical and emotional side effects of the disease and its treatment. The radiation therapist can also provide the contact details of psychologists, talk therapists and other alternative wellness consultants.
Here are some of the expert recommended ways of coping with the disease:
- Staying informed-Learn about the cancer and what you can do to prevent it from spreading or coming back.
- Staying positive– Try and give gratitude for small things in life. Deal with the anger and pain by expressing it to loved ones.
- Not playing the blame game– Often cancer patients feel they did not do enough, or that they did something wrong that brought this upon them. Remember that the disease can affect anyone.
- Using methods of relaxing– Using mind body practices like Meditation, Yoga and music etc. can help reduce stress and lower the tendency to worry.
- Remaining active as far as possible– When you move out in the open fresh air, you can focus on other things besides the disease. Try gardening, walking a pet etc.
- Not focusing on things that are beyond one’s control.
- Sharing feelings with cancer support group– Cancer support groups can help you vent out your feelings. By hearing stories and other people’s concerns, you will realize that you are not alone in this journey.
- Using humor and laughter therapy– Laughter and positive thinking is known to beat the cancer cells. Many miraculous cases have shown how laughter and humor have actually helped people fight and cope with the disease.
Turning to Faith and Spirituality
When a serious illness like cancer afflicts someone, s/he tends to get angry and blame God. Religion and faith often take a backseat. However, in other cases, patients actually find their faith becoming stronger. In fact: Faith, religion and spirituality can help become a source of strength for families fighting the disease. Attending Church, reading or singing devotional songs in groups can also help patients connect with each other. Studies have time and again shown that Religion can help not just fight the disease but also cope with it. Praying, meditating, reading positive stories of faith healing people are few ways of seeking answers and searching for meaning. Patients can contact their spiritual leaders in their community or ask their hospital for a trained Chaplain who can provide support to them and their families.
For more information and research on spirituality and its role in palliative Cancer care, click here.