Anyone who has had cancer treatment in the past will always say that undergoing treatment is not a walk in the park. Studies indicate that there are side effects to patients during treatment, as well as months or years after.

Cancer treatment refers to the 3 most popular kinds of cancer treatment like radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. There are more modern treatments right now, such as what they call the “Integrative Medicine Approach” to cancer treatment. This involves a combination of the traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.  With alternative post-treatment modalities like yoga, meditation, acupuncture or naturopathic treatment like we do here at the Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch Natural Medical Center.

I just want to emphasize here that with naturopathic or Ayurveda-influenced cancer treatment, there are no debilitating side effects. There might be a sudden discoloration of your skin to orange from being brown or white due to copious amounts of carrot juice as part of your Raw Vegetable Diet. Other than that, we don’t expect any major “side effects”.

Despite the latest advances of cancer treatment now, there is still no doing away with the side effects of cancer, sad to say. So let me mention some of the more common “side effects” of aggressive or conventional cancer treatments.

* Pain

A cancer patient may experience pain during diagnosis; and before, during and after cancer treatment. Pain may be experienced with chemotherapy drugs, and may experience numbness and weakness often in the feet and hands. And the worse thing is that the pain might still be there years after the last cancer treatment.

Radiation therapy and surgery might cause nerve damage leading to chronic pain. Our suggestion is to keep your patient comfortable and positive all throughout the treatment period. Also, acupuncture can help with easing the pain. Currently, several attest to the effectivity of cannabis oil in easing pain from cancer treatment – but this area is still in the process of being studied thoroughly by the medical world.

Meditation is also helpful in keeping a cancer patient’s focus off the pain and other side effects of cancer treatment.

* Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the more common side effects experienced by cancer survivors – about 70% of them, according to the American Cancer Society. This is usually experienced by those who undergo radiation and chemotherapy – and the anemia that usually accompanies such treatment.

Aside from anemia, cancer patients may experience depression, chronic inflammation and changes in their metabolic rate as a result of conventional cancer treatments. Also, the fatigue that is experienced cannot be relieved by just sleeping more hours. A study made by University of Rochester researchers found out that Paxil, an anti-depressant drug, did very little to relieve patients of cancer-related fatigue.

Moderate exercise, a Raw Vegetarian Diet and a natural noni juice drink, plus interactions with a cancer patient support group may help those experiencing fatigue.

* Nausea

This side effect, along with pain and vomiting is usually generated by those undergoing chemotherapy. Although some experts say that nausea may be generated by the mind (some cancer patients already are forewarned by nausea side effects, hence they are said to “imagine” their side effects before they actually happen).

Try to do meditation, have a balanced diet full of cruciferous vegetables and fruits, and adopt a positive mental attitude. Also, there have been studies before that says acupuncture may relieve the nausea caused by chemotherapy.

* Emotional Distress

Every cancer patient is bound to experience some form of Emotional Distress before, during and after cancer treatment. That is why clinical studies have indicated that a cancer support group has been very helpful to ease the uncertainty, anxiety and other stress factors that this disease creates. In fact, it was found out that meditation and a cancer support group together can protect a cancer patient from experiencing a change in their DNA due to the aggressive chemotherapy applied.

* Hair Loss

Chemotherapy drugs do kill rapidly replicating cancer cells in the body.  It also takes its toll another way through hair loss. Hair loss occurs during one to three weeks after the initial cancer treatment. Radiation therapy also triggers hair loss, but usually in the area where radiation is applied.

We do suggest getting a wig or just tying a pretty, colorful bandanna around your head when this occurs.

* Decline in Libido  

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments may affect the nerves, blood and sex hormones that control your sexual function. Pain, anxiety and depression may affect your sex drive as well. And the effects on the sexual organs of these treatments may be long-term, especially for men who have to have chemotherapy and radiation for prostate cancer or their reproductive organs.

We suggest seeking counselling even before you have the treatment so as to prepare you for any eventuality. Meditation and yoga helps in keeping you less anxious and fearful of your future. You might also want to consider keeping your sperm or eggs in a sperm or fertility bank for your future children – that is if you still want to have them in the future.

There are a great more side effects of cancer treatment. But these are the ones I think that are more commonly experienced among patients. In conclusion, much of the side effects can be managed by keeping a positive attitude towards your complete cure and recovery.

How about you – any other side effects of cancer treatment that you’d like to be included in this list? Send us your thoughts by posting them below!

Image by qimono / CC BY 2.0