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Help From Family and Friends

When you have metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, there’s more to taking care of yourself than treatments and doctor visits. Little things that you can do at home can help you feel your best, like letting friends and family help out.

They can help with meals or household chores, run errands, or give you rides to the doctor. Saying yes to their offers lets them feel like they’re helping and it makes your life easier.

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Healthy Foods

Your body needs plenty of them in order to work better. Try to eat high-calorie, high-protein snacks all day instead of three large meals. Try yogurt, cheese and crackers, and hearty soups. Stay clear of foods that are high in fat, sugar, or salt. Instead, have lots of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins, like beans and peas.

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Restful Sleep

When you get enough good sleep, you'll feel better physically and be in a better mood. Stress and the drugs you take for your condition can make it harder to sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Make time for something relaxing before bed -- like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. Turn off phones or computers. Keep your room dark, too.

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Exercise can help when you're tired. It can also put you in a better mood and help you stay at a healthy weight. You don't have to do a lot. Start by finding ways to cut down how much you sit. Take breaks just to walk around or do light stretches. Fit in some aerobic activity and strength exercises, too. Work activity into your trips out of the house or your time with family and friends.

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Less Stress

Ease the anxiety of cancer treatment by spending a few minutes every day to manage stress. You may find that deep breathing and meditation help. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. As you focus on each part of your body, relax it, working your way from your toes to the top of your head. Then imagine yourself in a lovely place like a beach or a field. Yoga and guided imagery can also help ease stress.

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Less Nausea

Try sucking on hard candy to manage nausea from chemo or radiation. Avoid tart candy if you have mouth sores. Eat bland foods like dry toast and crackers. Sip clear, cold liquids so the smell and taste aren't as strong. Skip fatty, spicy, or very sweet foods. If you only have nausea between meals, eat lots of small ones and have a snack before you go to bed.

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Plan to Deal With Vomiting

Slowly sip on a few ice chips or frozen juice chips when you can. Sip just a teaspoon of cool liquid at a time every 10 minutes when you stop throwing up. Slowly bump it up to a tablespoon. If you feel better, try a little more. To keep from vomiting, ask your doctor if they can prescribe dissolving tablets or suppositories for you. 

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Ways to Manage Mouth Sores

Stay away from mouthwashes that have alcohol, which can irritate sores. Rinse your mouth before and after meals and at bedtime with a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda and with 2 cups of water. Eat lots of cold foods and drinks like ice pops, ice chips, ice cream, sherbet, and frozen yogurt. Use petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, or a mild lip balm on your lips, too.

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Eye Protection

Moisten and relieve eyes that are red, sore, and dry from cancer treatment. Keep your eyes moist with preservative-free, artificial tears eye drops. Use baby shampoo to gently clean your eyelids and put a warm compress on them at bedtime to soothe irritation. Try not to wear contact lenses during your treatment. Put sunglasses on whenever you’re outside, too.

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Items to Make Chemo More Comfortable

Taking some items from home can make chemo treatments easier. It can be chilly in hospitals, so wear warm socks and bring a warm blanket. Pass the time with books, magazines, music, a laptop, or games. Bring snacks and water with you. Don't forget hard candy and lip balm for dry mouth and chapped lips.

Ask a friend to come along to keep you company. It will help you feel comfortable and keep you from driving home when you're tired after treatment.

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Connection With Your Partner

Stress, pain, and treatment side effects can make it hard to be physically or emotionally intimate. Talk to your partner about how you're feeling. Find ways to spend time together and share affection in other ways, like hugging and holding hands.

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A Journal

Writing down your feelings can help you deal with your recovery. You can jot down your thoughts, record what you’re grateful for, or keep an art journal with drawings. Find a quiet space to create and keep your work in a private place. Don't worry about grammar or spelling -- your journal is just for you. Journaling can help you sleep better and be less tired. It can also make adjusting to your new normal easier.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 02/10/2021 Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on February 10, 2021


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Mayo Clinic: "Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping."

University Health Network: "Self-care for cancer patients."

American Cancer Society: "Nutrition For the Person with Cancer," "Anxiety, Fear, and Emotional Distress," "Managing Nausea and Vomiting at Home," "Mouth Sores."

American Society of Clinical Oncology: "6 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Cancer Care."

John Hopkins Medicine: "5 Healthy Habits That Help You During Lung Cancer Treatment."

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: "Protecting your eyes during cancer treatment," "What I Pack for Chemo," "Journaling your way through cancer."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on February 10, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.