- Take short rests when you are tired. Avoid long naps during the day so that you can sleep well at night.
- Add mild exercise, such as walking, to your daily routine.
- Balance activity with rest. Save your energy for important tasks.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration adds to fatigue.
- Talk with your doctor about medications or treatments that may help manage your anemia.
Anxiety and Depression
- Talk with your family or friends.
- Consider joining a cancer support group or finding a cancer “buddy” who can help you cope.
- Ask your doctor about medications for depression and anxiety.
- If you can, eat foods high in protein several times a day. These foods include milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, eggs, beans, peanut butter and nuts. Protein helps build and repair tissue, and cancer treatments cause you to use more protein than usual.
- To maintain your weight, eat high-calorie foods such as margarine or butter, sugar, honey, jams, jellies, cream cheese, dried fruit, gravies or sauces, mayonnaise and salad dressing.
- Get plenty of fluids to help control your body temperature and improve food elimination. In addition to water, fruit juices and other liquids, try gelatin, pudding, soups, fruit bars and ice cream.
- East small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large ones.
- Keep snacks handy to eat when you are hungry.
- Eat with friends or play your favorite music at mealtime to boost your appetite.
- Eat your biggest meal in the morning. Many people getting treatment for cancer find that this when their appetite is greatest.
- If you can, increase your activity level. Doing so may boost your appetite.
- On days you do not feel like eating at all, do not worry about it. Try again the next day. If you find your appetite does not improve in several days, talk with your doctor or nurse.
- Use sanitary pads to absorb the vaginal discharge. Changes the pads regularly.
- Discharge from the vagina will look somewhat bloody. Gradually, it becomes brownish. Then it stops altogether. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you notice heavy bleeding.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and prune juice.
- Eat foods high in fiber, such as cereals, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Take stool softeners or a laxative only as prescribed by your doctor.
- Avoid milk and milk products.
- Avoid gas-producing vegetables, dried fruit, fiber cereals, seeds, popcorn, nuts, corn and dried beans.
- Eat low-residue, low-fiber foods such as those included in the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast).
- Drink more fluids, such as water and broth, to prevent dehydration.
Hair Loss (Alopecia)
- Consider cutting your hair short before treatment starts.
- Think about getting a wig, hat or scarf before your hair loss starts. That way, you can get a wig that matches your hair, and you will be ready with head coverings, if you choose to use them.
- Because your scalp may be more sensitive to temperature and sun, protect it with sunscreen and hats or scarves.
- Try keeping a diary to identify what actions or situations trigger a hot flash. Recognizing what causes the hot flashes may help you avoid them.
- Limit your intake of hot drinks, caffeine alcohol, and spicy foods.
- Avoid strenuous exercise.
- Layer your clothing so that you can add or remove as needed.
- Stay out of environments with very warm temperatures.
- Use sprays or moist wipes to help lower skin temperature.
- Ask your doctor about relaxation training or acupuncture.
- Ask your doctor about medications you can take to ease symptoms.
- Ask your doctor about taking phytoestogens.
Insomnia (Trouble Sleeping)
- Keep a regular bedtime schedule.
- Use your bed only for sleeping, not watching TV.
- If you do not fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up, do something else and try again later.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and tobacco, especially close to bedtime.
- Don’t eat, drink fluids or exercise close to your bedtimes.
- Avoid long naps during the day.
Mouth Sores (Mucositis)
- Brush your teeth after meals and before bedtime; floss everyday.
- Keep your mouth and lips clean and moist.
- Use sugar-free candies or gums to increase moisture in your mouth.
If you get sores in your mouth, take these actions:
- Avoid alcohol and mouthwashes containing alcohol.
- Avoid hot, rough, or spicy foods.
- Avoid tobacco because it may irritate the sores. Smoking can also make you more susceptible to sores.
- Ask your doctor about topical mouth medications.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as Tylenol, if necessary.
- Call your doctor or nurse if your temperature reaches 100°F or higher.
Nausea or Vomiting
- Ask your doctor about getting a prescription medicine to control nausea and vomiting. Then make sure you take it as directed. If you are vomiting and cannot take the medicine, call your doctor or nurse again.
- If you have bothersome nausea and vomiting even though you are taking your medicine, call your doctor or nurse. Your medicine can be changed.
To help ease nausea or vomiting:
- Try eating foods and drinking beverages that were easy to take or made you feel better when you’ve had the flu or were nauseated from stress. These may be bland foods, sour candy, pickles, dry crackers, ginger ale, flat soda or others. Do not eat fatty or fried foods, very spicy foods or very sweet foods.
- Eat room-temperature or cold foods. The smells from hot foods may make your nausea worse.
- Ask your doctor or nurse if he or she can help you learn a relaxation exercise. This may make you feel less anxious and more in control, and decrease your nausea.
- Ask your doctor or nurse about using acupressure bands on your wrists, which may help decrease your nausea.
Neutropenia (Low White Blood Cell Levels)
- Avoid crowds or people with colds.
- Wash your hands often or use a hand sanitizer throughout the day to kill germs.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs of infections: a temperature of 100.5°F or higher, severe chills, a cough, pain, a burning sensation during urination or any sores or redness.
Peripheral Neuropathy (Numbness, Tingling, or Muscle Weakness in Your Hands or Feet)
- Take extra care walking and moving so that you do not fall.
- Use warm, not hot, water for bathing to prevent burns. Consider using a shower chair or railing.
- If your daily activities become too difficult, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist or a physical therapist. They can help teach you new ways of doing things so that you can stay as active as possible.
- Take extra care when driving (you may have trouble feeling the gas and brake pedals). Ask friends and family to drive you places.
- Take pain medications regularly; don’t wait for your pain to become severe (take steps to avoid constipation, a common side effect of pain medications).
- Change your activity level. See if you feel better if you rest more or move around more-either may help.
- Distract yourself with music, funny videos or computer games.
- Use relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, or guided imagery exercises. Ask your doctor or nurse where you can learn more about relaxation techniques.
- Talk with your partner about changes in your ability to have sex.
- Explore new ways to share affection and intimacy.
- Discuss it with your doctor and other members of your healthcare team. They may be able to offer suggestions.
- If childbearing is an issue, talk with your doctor and your partner about this before treatment.
Skin Dryness or Irritation
- Protect your skin from sun exposure by wearing sunscreen of at least 15 SPF.
- Ask your doctor or nurse what kind of lotion you can use to moisturize and soothe your skin.
- Don’t use any lotion, soap, deodorant, sunblock, cologne, cosmetics or powder on your skin within 2 hours of treatment because they may cause irritation.
- Wear loose, soft clothing over the treated area. Cotton underwear can help prevent further irritation.
- Don’t scratch, rub or scrub treated skin. After washing, gently blot dry.
- Don’t bandage skin with tape. If you must bandage it, use paper tape, and ask your nurse to help you place the dressings so that you can avoid irritation.
- Don’t apply heat or cold to the treated area. Bathe only with lukewarm water.
- Keep your nails well trimmed and clean.
Trouble Thinking and Remembering
- Make lists and write down important information.
- Use other tools to help organize your life, such as calendars, pill dispensers or alarm clocks.
- Take short rests when you feel tired. Avoid long naps during the day so that you can sleep well at night.
- Add mild exercise, such as walking, to your daily routine. It may help you sleep better.
- Save your energy for important tasks.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration leads to increased fatigue.
- Take action to treat a poor appetite, because eating improperly can make you tired.
- If your fatigue is severe or chronic, ask for help with routine tasks that can drain your energy, such as grocery shopping or housework. Some people reduce their hours at work.
Vaginal Dryness and other Vaginal Problems
- Use over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants.
- Before sexual activity, use water-soluble lubricants.
- Apply vitamin E oil to the area to ease irritation and burning.
- Ask your doctor about products that may help replace estrogen vaginally.
- As relief for infections, try over-the-counter antifungal creams, but see your gynecologist for symptoms that do not go away.
- Eat a balanced, low-calorie diet.
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat. And drink more water. These can help fill you up - and are good for you - without adding a lot of calories.