The Ugly Truth About Chemotherapy

The weight loss. The fatigue. The nausea. The metallic taste. The hair loss. The appetite changes. The pain threshold changes. The mouth and throat sores. The numbness in the hands and feet. The swelling. And many, many more.

How do you watch your parent go through these side effects (sometimes more, sometimes less)? How do you sit there at work and know the pain that your parent is going through or gone through? How do you study in school knowing how much your parent is suffering or suffered? How do you smile while cancer is ripping your life apart?

I remember the first time I took my father to chemotherapy. At the time, I was just 16 years old. It was his third round of chemotherapy. A few hours into the session, something went wrong with the patient sitting across my dad and all the doctors ran in and closed the curtain. I saw that he was shaking uncontrollably and he practically turned purple. I could not handle it. I kept thinking to myself that the same thing would happen to my dad. I couldn’t breathe. I started shaking. I was beyond terrified. I felt like I was going to faint. At the time, my dad fell asleep. (I’m happy he was napping at the time because I would hate for him to see me like that.) I somehow found the energy to walk to the elevator and go down to the parking lot for some fresh air. I called my mom crying my eyes out. I kept saying, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” I let all my feelings and tears out. It took me a few minutes, but I pulled myself together and walked up the stairs to my dad. He just woke up from his nap. I acted like nothing was wrong and started a pleasant chess game with him. He won, as usual.

Each time your parent (or loved one) goes to chemotherapy a piece of your heart dies. It feels like the cancer punched you so incredibly hard and literally reached into you and cut out a piece of your heart.

I wish there was something I could do to ease you from this pain. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the cancer. If you cannot handle it, then I suggest leaving the room. Do not bring down your parent. They need your support. Give them the motivation to fight this disease. Fight this disease with your parent and never quit. Do everything in your power to help your parent become a survivor. Take them to chemotherapy. Put up with their mood swings. Give them the food they need to help with the nauseous feeling. Take care of your parents. Always take care of yourself too! Cancer is always going to be a distraction in school and work but try your best and that’s all anyone can ask for.

As awful as all of this feels at the moment, it’s better than having your parent gone. There were many times where I mentally had a difficult time taking care of my dad, but now that’s all I want to do.

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National Cervical Cancer Screening Month

January is National Cervical Cancer Screening Month! Cancer-fighting organizations stress the importance of screenings for Cervical Cancer during this time.

Here are a few facts about Cervical Cancer to raise awareness:

  • Cervical Cancer is the second most common type of cancer found in women.
  • Cervical Cancer is one of the most treatable cancers.
  • About 12,000 women will be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer per year.
  • About half of the patients are between the ages of 35 and 55.
  • Cervical Cancer can be diagnosed through the Papanicolaou (Pap) test.
  • Doctors suggest getting the first Pap test at the age of 21 and the last one at the age of 70 with about three year intervals.
  • Cervical Cancer be treated through surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Always share these facts about Cervical Cancer to spread awareness and stop the battle against cancer. Sharing this post could save someone’s life! You would be saving a whole circle of family and friends from a roller coaster of emotions.

How and Why to Be Healthy

In today’s world it is so important to be healthy. Doctors, scientists, researchers, and engineers all collaborate to make our medicine topnotch. The helpers for our body are doing their part. These advances in technology have done their share, leaving the rest to us. Now, it’s our turn to treat our body the way it should be treated.

How?

Step 1: Know the Fact and Statistics

  • 1 in every 4 deaths are due to Heart Disease in America
  • 49% of Americans have either diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoke, all key risks for heart disease
  • Every 34 seconds an American has a heart attack
  • 8.3% of the American population has diabetes
  • 41% of Americans will be diagnosed with some stage and type of cancer

Don’t let your body become a part of one of those percentages.

Step 2: Keep Healthy Snacks

Try to keep healthy snacks in your backpack or purse during the day. For example, you could keep a granola bar or fruit. This will give you enough energy to last in-between meals. Sugary snacks (like chocolate) will do that too, but it isn’t a healthy choice.

Step 3: Healthy Grocery Shopping

Make a list of healthy ingredients. Go online and find some recipes you’ll enjoy. You know your taste buds the best. When going down the aisle, try to avoid picking up things like candy and chocolate. Instead, pick a replacement. Maybe instead of getting your weekly dose of chocolate you could pick up raspberries! However, if you really do need that weekly dose, you could try to have a dessert that involves fruits and sweets. For example, I recently made a delicious dessert. It’s called “Caramel Apple Dessert Salad”. It consists of cut apples in the shape of a cube, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, heath bits, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and pecans  (optional). It tastes delicious, and it’s not too bad for you! You can’t feel too guilty about eating it since there are apples. Apples reduce cholesterol,  detox your liver, and boost your immune system, and all while protecting against Alzheimer’s diseases and Parkinson’s disease! Try filling strawberries with Nutella or cheesecake filling. That way, your sweet craving will be satisfied while gaining essential vitamins and nutrients! Strawberries also boost short-term memory, lower cardiovascular disease, and strengthen bones! You could buy celery sticks and dip them in peanut butter! Celery is one of the healthiest snacks. Celery is a great fiber supplement, and even helps with arthritis and spleen and liver diseases.

Step 4: Drink Water

Water, water, water! Water helps balance other fluids in the body, helps control calories, energizes your muscles, keeps your hair strong, keeps your skin healthier, maintains your bowel functions, increases cognitive function, and helps maintain strong and sturdy joints! Water is an essential part of your diet! Make sure to drink about 8 cups a day. Avoid soda and other drinks with a lot of sugar. If you are having a lot of juice, try added 1/4 or 1/2 a cup of water! Soda increases your chance of obesity, increases your risk for diabetes, increases your risk of having a  heart attack and stroke, and of course contributes to the decay of teeth enamel.

Step 5: Set Goals

Setting goals will motivate you. No one ever wants to disappoint himself or herself; that is one of the worst feelings. Set goals for yourself that you know that you will be able to be successful in. You are the only person who knows your body, your stamina, and your metabolism. Try monthly goals at first. For example, this coming month set a goal on running at least twice a week. While doing that monthly goal, also set weekly goals. For example, your weekly goal could be purchasing healthier groceries. Try daily goals, like talking a walk everyday or doing sit-ups in the morning.

Step 6: Have a Friend/Family Member to Start With- Have a Motivation

When starting this new lifestyle, try finding a gym-buddy! Maybe go grocery shopping with someone, so when you reach for the ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’ and powdered doughnuts someone will stop you! By starting this chapter of your life with someone, both parties will be motivated. It’s a win-win situation. The positive reinforcement and encouragement will also make your ability and will power to change your lifestyle in a positive and healthy way. Try providing incentives for each other.

Step 7: Exercise

Exercise just simply makes you feel better. If you’re not much of a gym-goer you still have many options! For example, there’s yoga, which is a great alternative. Yoga balances out stress hormones, strengthens your cardiovascular system, and speeds up your metabolism. It might even be better than going to the gym! Yoga also strengthens your cardiovascular and muscular system as well as your posture. The great thing about yoga is that anyone can do it! Exercise gives you the time to reclaim your emotional stability as well as your mental and physical health. The key is to deep breaths while coordinating those breaths with the motions of your body. There are many different types of yoga positions. Some require sitting, some reuire standing, some require flexibility and some don’t. You can do yoga anywhere- you can take a class at a gym or you can do it in your own backyard looking over a view. You could even take a walk around your neighborhood or around your office building during your lunch hours. There are a lot of options and you can get very creative!

(https://copingwithcancerforkids.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/coping-strategy-2/

Step 8: Relax

Relax. If you’re having a busy day, and it’s convenient to pick up fast food, so be it. I understand that McDonalds and frozen meals have programmed themselves to taste better, even if that means the food is ten times unhealthier. Having fast food once in a while is totally okay.  Don’t deprive yourself of things you love. Take everything step by step and do something for yourself. Don’t kill yourself over a healthy lifestyle. If you want to get dessert every other weekend, then do it! Do what makes you happy. Always be kind to yourself.

Step 9: Get Enough Sleep

Sleep plays a huge role in one’s metabolism. Getting the right amount of sleep makes learning new things and memorizing much easier. It also helps stabilize your metabolism and blood pressure. Your irritability and mood swings significantly decrease. Sleep keeps your cardiovascular system and immune system healthy as well. By getting the full 8-10 hours of sleep each night, your irritability and mood swings decrease. You will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

(https://copingwithcancerforkids.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/coping-strategy-3-sleep-2/)

Step 10:  Be Healthy Around Family/Friends- Be a Motivation

Make yourself become a motivation to someone! Be a healthy role model. Everyone wants a healthy lifestyle, it’s just about being able to start it and keep up with it. Show everyone that you did it. Inspire someone. Tell your friends, “If I can do it, so can you!” Be a motivation not just towards your friends, but family, colleagues, and everyone in your circle!

Why? 

In my situation, cancer, diabetes, and heart problems are running through my blood.  I want to be able to live a comfortable life, not worrying about my health and risks constantly. By starting now, I hope to achieve that. I know a lot of people are in my situation. Genetics has a play in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other scary and deadly diseases. However, by taking the right steps, you can always have a leg up and be one step ahead of the never-ending race.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! I know that this post is about 8 days overdue and I apologize.

With a sick or lost parent, there is always something to do. And with those things to do comes potential improvements. Here are some ideas that might help you get through this cancer-stricken year!

New Year’s Resolutions for cancer patients:

  • Gain healthy weight- I know that with chemotherapy and the stress of cancer it is natural to lose weight. But remember, you must be strong for your next round of chemotherapy! Try to gain healthy weight. For example, try having Full-Fat Greek Yogurt with lots of fruits as many times a week as possible.
  • Tell your family what’s going on- Your family is there to help you and they genuinely want to. Don’t hide your diagnosis and doctor’s appointments from anyone.
  • Ask your doctor- If you don’t understand what your doctor is saying or if you want more details, just ask. I know many cancer patients don’t know how to ask certain questions about their diagnosis and prognosis, but always remember that oncologists want to help you. Also, don’t feel bad to get a second opinion.

New Year’s Resolutions for those coping with a loved one’s cancer:

  • Do something for yourself- Treat yourself to something nice every now and then because you deserve it. Cancer is beyond hard to deal with. Without giving yourself a break, you will start to resent your situation.
  • Take care of yourself- I know how busy you are taking care of your sick loved one, but don’t forget to take care of yourself! Eat right and exercise well. Stay healthy for your parent(s)!
  • Volunteer- Being able to volunteer with cancer organizations is so fulfilling. I highly recommend it to those coping with this deadly disease.

To both groups:

  • Join a support group- Join a support group and ask for help. You will meet many others who are in a similar situation. You will feel less alone, you will be able to vent in a healthy way, you will meet people who finish your ______. (sentences)
  • Talk about your feelings- Tell your family how you feel and how much you love each other. This life is too short for you not to say, “I love you.” every single day.
  • Save someone- You know what cancer does to a family. You have seen the ups and downs of it. Save someone and make sure they get their screenings and tests when required.
  • Be positive- Don’t fret over things that are not in your control. People are going to say insulting things about cancer. People are going to insult the way you are coping with your cancer story. Walk away because you don’t need anymore negativity in your life. Surround yourself with positivity and do the best you can do while coping with cancer.