Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in today’s society alongside diabetes and heart disease. Rightfully so, being diagnosed with cancer raises many concerns. Because of this, raising awareness is of utmost importance. We allocate many resources in order to educate the public on self-screening measures such as: complete skin inspections; self-breast exams and annual pap smears. Modern medicine and technology have however enabled us to tackle these issues more effectively.
Needless to say, having cancer can still be a very scary and life changing experience, but many cancer survivors go on living a healthy and fruitful life cancer free. The fact is, some cancers are more difficult to survive than others, but survival rates have greatly increased in more recent years. Chemotherapy, which is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment is debilitating. Although chemo does not guarantee a cure, it can, however, prolong a patient’s life significantly.
There are many down sides to chemo. Along with the disease ridden cancer cells, chemo may also destroy a patient’s healthy cells causing many side effects such as: mental cloudiness; fatigue; pain; nerve problems; gastrointestinal issues; bruising; bleeding; libido and fertility changes. For obvious reasons, any individual undergoing chemotherapy may find it quite challenging to perform the everyday task required in order to work or attend school. Chemo-brain, defined as cognitive dysfunction causes mental cloudiness and fatigue making it hard to focus, formulate thoughts or simply pay attention.
Furthermore, the majority of people receiving cancer treatment have reported feeling extremely weak and tired. Many factors impact fatigue levels such as: the patient’s mental state; how much food they are eating; the type of cancer present and the specific treatment course they are receiving. It is very imperative individuals receiving chemotherapy are instructed to get lots of rest and to eat a bountiful diet.
Pain; an adverse effect of chemo, as well as a source of the cancer itself (invasive tumors, blood clots, etc.), can exacerbate side effects such as fatigue. Unfortunately, the treatment for the pain can cause nerve damage referred to as peripheral neuropathy, hence causing more pain. This pain can be acute or chronic. Some symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness and pain in the patient’s extremities and can be treated by a neurologist. In addition to the above, a majority of patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment have reported the following gastrointestinal complications: vomiting, diarrhea, constipation as well as sores in their mouths and on their tongues.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, keep in mind that it is common to bruise and you may be more susceptible to bleeding. This is due to the fact that the clotting factors found in your blood cells (which are located in the bone marrow), can be affected by the chemo treatment; thus affecting your body’s natural clotting mechanisms. As if all of this was not enough, most patients can expect a drop in their sex lives or loss of libido. Depending on the drugs being used in the particular chemotherapy treatment a patient’s fertility may be impacted. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor.