Practical Tips on Surviving Chemotherapy and Radiation by Linda Panutat
By Linda Panutat
Take vitamins. When you see your oncologist, be sure to bring a list of all medications and the dosage.
This includes vitamins, cold pills, pain relievers, etc.
When you feel nauseous:
- Eat and drink slowly. Chew your food well.
- Have sherbets or frozen yogurts; these are non-fattening as compared to ice cream.
- Drink one hour before or after meals. Avoid drinking during meals.
- Have small meals.
- Suck on ice cubes, mints, and hard candies.
- Avoid spicy, sweet, fried, and fatty foods.
- Do not lie flat for at least two hours after meals. Rest on a chair.
- Breathe deeply and slowly when you feel nauseated.
- Use relaxation techniques.
- Wear loose fitting clothes.
- Distract yourself - watch TV or movies, chat with friends or family members.
When you lose appetite:
- Call for delivery of your favorite food.
- Go out to a real fancy restaurant.
- Try to take a walk before meals. This will make you hungry.
- Eat with friends or family members.
After every treatment:
- First two days : you'll feel okay. Schedule activities during this period.
- Get plenty of rest. When you feel tired even when you have just waken up: succumb to the call for rest
and sleep. Sleep at night and take naps during the day.
- Drink plenty of water to flush out the chemicals from your system.
- Limit your activities to those that are most important to you.
Hair Care Tips/Loss
- Use mild shampoos.
- Use soft hair brushes.
- Do not dye your hair nor get a permanent treatment.
- Get your wig or hairpiece before you lose a lot of hair. Then you can get the wig that will match your
If and when your hair starts to fall: shave off your hair. This way, you will not feel as bad as when your
hair falls off by the bunch. You will not be frightened to see bunches of hair on your pillow and on the
shower floor. Besides, new hair will grow simultaneously, and even better than before. This is a common
side effect of chemotherapy but it may not always happen. Hair loss may occur in all parts of the body
(facial hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, arm and leg hair, underarm hair, and pubic hair). Wearing wigs,
turbans, scarves, and hats are fun. One can change her looks instantaneously.
- Ask your radiology oncologist to explain the simulation and treatment planning procedure. Knowledge
will allay your fears.
- Use aloe vera gel right after radiation session; not before radiation, as it will minimize the effects of
- Time to go braless. Wear loose blouses specially during the later radiotherapy sessions. The bra might
become abrasive to the skin, specially the radiation-affected area.
- Never scrub the area. Squeeze sponge/ face towel with soapy water and let it flow down from your
- Some feel fatigue. Take naps and have a good night sleep. Rest and recoup.
Other things to do to feel good during treatment:
- Watch comedy films. Laughter increases endorphins, which in turn boosts your immunology. And this
will make you have a happy disposition.
- Feel free to put on your favorite outfit. Always be dressed up complete with make-up. You will be
surprised that it will make you feel great.
- Invite your friends to your home for chit chats. Be sure topics are about fun stuff or the crazy things
(ex.: previous escapades).
- Have something besides work to occupy your mind. Immersing yourself in a hobby (ex.: scrapbooking,
cooking, etc. ) will make you feel a different kind of contentment. It also serves to divert your attention
from the current situation.
- Look into old albums to reminisce the good old days. You'll find yourself smiling and laughing as you go
through the pages.
- Take short naps often with soft classical / instrumental music playing in the background.
Linda Panutat is the President of Prime Spots Inc., part of the SM Group of Companies, and a breast
cancer survivor. She is a founding member of the breast cancer support group Bosom Buddies.