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Cancer Support: Coping With Cancer Treatments - Topic Overview

"At first, I couldn't think of anything except how scared I was to have cancer. But as soon as I started asking questions about chemotherapy and learning how to take care of myself, I felt a little less afraid. The doctors and staff were great about answering all of my questions."—Earl, 66

"When I started chemotherapy, I also enrolled in a yoga class. It was something I wanted to do just for me. It let me forget about cancer for a couple of hours a week. And it did wonders for my stress level."—Donna, 58

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"I talked to my friend's cousin who had breast cancer a few years ago. She told me about her surgery and radiation, how it felt, and what to expect. It helped me to talk to someone who had been through it all and survived."—Thuy, 60

Deciding which information you want, knowing what to expect during treatment, and getting your support in place will help ease the stress of cancer treatment.

Information your way

When you get diagnosed with cancer, you start getting a lot of information. Doctors and sometimes even friends and family want to tell you about your type of cancer, your treatment options, and what will happen. The information can be very scary and confusing. It's a lot to take in.

Think about what you want to know about your treatment. Some people want to know everything about their cancer. Others just want the basics. Do you want information from your doctor, or do you want to read on your own, or both?

Tell your doctors, friends, and family what types of information you want and how you prefer to receive it. Ask them to support your decision.

Treatment and side effects

Even if you don't want to know a lot of details about your treatment, it's a good idea to learn about the side effects. Then you can take steps to prepare and ask for help if you need it. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the medicines used for your treatment. And side effects vary from person to person. Your doctor can help you know what to expect and can prescribe medicines to help with side effects.

Fatigue is a common side effect, and it can really disrupt your life. Some people notice that they feel a little more tired than usual. Other people feel like they have no energy at all. Some days may be better than others.

It's okay to rest when you feel tired. On days when you feel better, try a bit of activity. A short walk may boost your energy.

Here are some ways to care for yourself when you're feeling weak and tired:

  • Get extra rest. Plan ahead so you can take breaks or naps.
  • Save your energy for the most important things you want to do.
  • When you feel good enough to eat, try to eat a balanced diet. Try not to skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Try to calm yourself when worries fill your head. Deep breathing, gratitude, music, and prayer are all ways to lower your stress level.
  • Accept help from family and friends for home chores and other tasks.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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