How I Coped With Nausea During Chemotherapy
After colon cancer surgery, I needed to undergo chemotherapy for six months. We were at the cancer center every two weeks for my infusion. My hair started thinning. I had to shave it myself because it did not look good to leave it that way. I was using all kinds of hats and scarfs to cover my head.
My immune system was weakened, so I had to use a mask when I was in public places. People could tell I had cancer because I was using a headcover, a mask, and an infusion pump. Using a mask was hard at first because I could not breathe well, but the longer I used it the more I got used to it.
I Exercised as Much as I Could
My doctor told me I should at least walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. I forced myself to exercise because I needed it to stay strong. Walking on nature trails were great because I didn't need to use a mask since I wasn't surrounded by people. But on rainy days I walked indoors, which required me to wear a mask—so inconvenient.
I Saw a Nutritionist
My doctor also recommended that I see a nutritionist. The cancer center has a variety of programs for patients. One of them was a free consultation with a nutritionist since they wanted me to stay as healthy as possible while undergoing chemotherapy. Here's what she suggested.
- Eat 6-8 small meals a day instead of 3 large meals.
- Eat high-protein foods, including beef, chicken, fish, turkey, lamb, milk, certain cheeses, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), cottage cheese, and cream cheese.
- Chemotherapy can make you lose a lot of weight, so she told me to add butter or margarine to my soups, vegetables, mashed potatoes, cooked cereal, and rice.
- Use mayonnaise on salads and add eggs and lettuce to any sandwich I eat.
- Eat peanut butter which has lots of protein and calories. I spread it on my apples, bananas, and pears.
- Snacks should consist of nuts, dried fruit, crackers, cheese, granola, ice cream, and popsicles.
- Eat dry foods, such as crackers, toast, dry cereals, breadsticks, etc.
- Eat foods that do not have a strong odor.
- Eat cool foods instead of hot, spicy foods.
- Avoid foods that are overly sweet, greasy, fried, or spicy.
- Sit up for at least one hour after eating.
- Sip on clear liquids to prevent dehydration.
I Ate Mostly Filipino Food
I had a hard time eating when I was undergoing treatment. Food just did not taste good. I could not bear eating our usual food at home, including baked chicken, baked fish, rice, steamed vegetables. They made me more nauseous.
However, I craved Filipino Food. I had abandoned it for a long time after adapting to my husband's diet. Filipino dishes smelled and tasted good during treatment. It felt like I was pregnant—feeling nauseous and craving for specific foods.
It's funny that the only food my taste buds could handle was the food I grew up with. When I was eating Filipino food, it seemed that it had a familiar taste that my stomach can accept. I didn't feel nauseous. Thank God there's a Filipino restaurant about 30 minutes away from us. My husband and I would drive there every few days to buy food for me. If not for that restaurant, I don't know if I would have survived chemotherapy.
Music Helped Me Sleep
I was so nauseous that I could not sleep. I would stay up late at night crying. Music helped a lot during that time. I also listened to God's word—it gave me the strength to go on.
Usually, on the first day of chemo, I would feel okay, but by the third day, I started to feel more nauseous. It would continue for a few more days until my next infusion. The medication my doctor prescribed for nausea was not working. Next chemo cycle, I told my oncologist about it, and he prescribed another one, which seemed to help a little.
I Used Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy also helped me during chemotherapy. I diffused a combination of peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. I was grateful that I did not get a cold or flu during my chemotherapy, which would have been dangerous because of my weakened immune system.
Peppermint helped with my nausea. I would put a few drops in my hands, rub it, and cup my hands over my nose to inhale the scent. It smelled so good and kept my nausea down. I also mixed peppermint with coconut oil and rubbed it under my feet.
Those essential oils were very helpful in easing the discomfort of chemotherapy.
I Took Advantage of My Cancer Center's Resources
I am so blessed that the Northwestern Cancer Center offered a lot of resources to its cancer patients. I was able to take advantage of a free 15-minute massage at least twice a month. One time, I won some goodies from raffle tickets they put in the waiting area.
They were so sensitive to the needs of their patients. The doctors, nurses, and staff were very helpful in making my treatments bearable. Chemotherapy was so hard for me. I give credit to those people who still work during treatment.
It's been two years since I was diagnosed with colon cancer. My chemotherapy ended in September 2018. My port was taken out. I now see my oncologist every four months. I am under surveillance for five years.
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