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What to Know About Chemotherapy Treatment by Alyssa Arceri

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There are many types of cancer a person may get throughout their lifetime: lung cancer, breast cancer, ovary cancer, etc. One thing most cancers have in common is a treatment that is offered to fight their cancer, Chemotherapy (chemo).

Chemo is used to slow down cancer growth throughout a person’s body. Many different kinds of drugs are used during chemo to kill cancer cells and keep cancer from spreading throughout the body. Eventually with enough treatment chemo can cure cancer from a person. Chemo may be used to shrink tumors before a person goes through surgery. Other times chemo will be used as a treatment after surgery to help kill any cancer cells that are left after a surgery.

There are a few different ways a person may receive chemo. The most popular way is with a needle (IV chemo). The drugs used for your chemo are pumped straight into a person’s veins. Along with IV chemo, a person may receive chemo several other ways: pill, or liquid form (must be very careful and take the exact amount prescribed by your doctor), a shot in the spine, chest, or abdomen, or lastly a person may rub it on their skin. Depending on the type of cancer a person has and how their body is reacting to the drugs being used can determine how often a person receives chemo. A person may receive chemo daily, weekly, or monthly. The person who is receiving chemo must have breaks throughout their treatment to allow their body to rebuild itself. With so many cancer cells being destroyed the body will now be able to recreate healthy new cells.

The drugs used during chemotherapy are extremely strong, not only do they kill cancer cells but sometimes they may kill noncancer cells or damage the new healthy cells as they are being created. Some people who receive chemotherapy will experience little to no side effects as other people are not as lucky. Chemotherapy is breaking your body down and getting rid of all cancer cells and even some healthy cells because of this people often experience nausea and vomiting. A person may ask for a prescription drug from their doctor to help ease the nausea and vomiting. A common side effect of chemotherapy is hair lost. A person may lose their hair in a matter of a day or over a slow time. Some people might not lose all their hair just a little causing one’s hair to thin out.

Almost all the time if a person loses their hair it will grow back however will most likely not be the same texture and color. A person loses their hair and wants to purchase a wig they can check their health plan because most health plans cover a part of the wig, a person may also deduct the cost from their income taxes. A person may experience some bone marrow changes which include loss of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A way for a person to make sure they are not losing too much bone marrow is by staying away from sick people and washing their hands regularly. Fortunately, the effect of bone marrow does not last long and doctors take blood tests to make sure the patient’s body is making new blood cells. A person may experience soars in the mouth and throat while going through chemotherapy. A person may lose their sexual desire while undergoing chemo but it comes back when the treatment ends; however, some chemo drugs can cause a person to not be able to have children and the effects unfortunately do not go away after treatment. Some people who go through chemo are called “chemo brain” or “chemo fog” meaning it is harder for the person to think or concentrate. Not all people have a hard time with their memory, only a few do. Finally, chemotherapy may affect a person’s emotions.

There are multiple things a person may do throughout chemotherapy to make the treatment better for them. The patient needs to make sure they are getting a lot of rest, eating healthier, getting fresh air, and having a person has a good support group to help them throughout their rough time. A person needs to stay strong and think positively that they will get better.




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