I was pondering on this topic as I am now in Day Five after my first chemo. I don’t want to sound trite as chemo can be really hard but there are some definite things that make chemo more tolerable:
- Go for a walk in nature for half an hour (by the sea or an estuary, or somewhere with trees). The exercise will really aid your healing in getting oxygen pumped throughout your body and the vistas will make you feel that life is good.
- Rest during the day if you are tired. Give yourself permission to have a kip in bed or just plonk on the couch (with a magazine or DVD). Not fatiguing yourself will result in lessened side effects from the chemo.
- Eat little bits of food often. If you are not able to eat a normal meal, snack on grapes, stewed, dried or raw apple or porridge (very soothing).
- Laugh. Watch comedies on TV or at the movies or laugh with good friends and family. Laughing boosts the immune system (remember the movie Patch Adams).
- Take your medications regularly to avoid feeling nausea and get back to ‘normal’ as soon as you can.
- Plan your post-chemo celebration or dream holiday. Plan a post chemo party or that trip to a country you have always wanted to visit but never got to. You could look at some brochures or websites and start planning, even if only in your mind.
- Use your imagination and visualisation. Imagine yourself recovering quickly from each chemo and see it in your mind.
- Sketch or paint something. I did some sketching and colouring during my chemo last week and it made me feel very calm, relaxed and happy. Also, the Cancer Society offers an Art Therapy programme.
- Spend time with positive people. Let friends and family motivate and support you. Make sure you hang around with people that cheer you on and up (though it’s normal not to feel positive all the time!).
- Write down how you feel in a diary, journal or on your computer. You can be completely honest and get those feelings out without having to censor anything.
- Talk to an expert. You could talk to your oncology district nurse or a cancer specialist at the Cancer Society about your experiences, side effects, issues or questions. Don’t be alone with any worries.
- Drink lots of water. Drink lots of fluids (at least two litres per day for the first four to five days after chemo). This can be coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soup, juice, jelly or water, whatever you can tolerate. This will help lessen the chemo side effects.
- Start a ‘fun’ project. Is there a project that you could do that requires little physical energy? You can do five or ten minutes here or there when you are inspired. E.g. keeping a scrapbook on your post-chemo holiday, family tree research or that dream kitchen/house.
- Get heaps of sleep. Ensure that you get eight hours of sound sleep. It will really assist your healing.
- Join a support group, either informally or through the Cancer Society. It is great to talk to people who are going through the same things as you are.
- Have a treat if you can afford it, a facial, a new top or morning tea at your fave café.
- Try a complementary therapy, something that helps with your side effects and doesn’t interfere with the chemo e.g. acupuncture or reflexology.
I hope this helps and please share more ideas in the comments below.