12 Tips For Coping With Cancer Treatment

A cancer diagnosis can be a very overwhelming and emotional experience. It is expected to feel a range of emotions from shock and disbelief to fear and sadness. It’s essential to allow yourself to feel these emotions and reach out to your loved ones and other cancer survivors for support. You are not alone in this. 

The emotional ride experienced when diagnosed with cancer does not stop there. A range of new fears, emotions, and physical afflictions may arise while going through treatment. Having a support network that will help you persevere through your experiences and may even include a therapist is important. 

Knowledge is vital to being prepared. The first step is to learn as much about your cancer diagnosis, its stage, and all the available treatments to make an informed decision about your treatment. You can also talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.

12 Tips for coping with treatment

1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

It has been proven that people who exercise or keep up their activities cope better with the treatment side effects.

2. Relax

Find and put into practice ways to relax and ground yourself again.

3. Share your feelings

Share your feelings honestly with your 'person' or your 'support village'.

4. Organise thoughts

Keep a journal to help organise your thoughts.

5. Keep a physical state journal

Keep a physical state journal documenting how you feel daily, after each treatment, and even after a snack. Documenting how you feel can help manage future side effects.

6. Write down questions

Write down any questions you may have for your doctor so that you can bring them up in the next doctor's visit.

7. Make a pros and cons list

Make a pros and cons list when difficult decisions are to be made.

8. Learn to say no

Do not feel obligated to do things you are not up for. Learn to say no.

9. Ask for help

Do not let fears of becoming too dependent overwhelm you, and do not feel guilty to ask for help when needed.

10. Anticipate physical changes

Anticipate physical changes and plan for those that can be controlled and do not consume yourself with those you cannot control.

11. Plan ahead

Plan ahead of time for your treatments, and get help where needed, whether it's to take care of work-related tasks, household chores, or your children or pets.

12. Let people help you

Let your friends and family help you.

Different cancer treatments and their side effects

Many other treatments are available, each with its own side effects. It is essential to be aware of the potential side effects of each treatment to make an informed decision about your care. This also prepares you for any lifestyle changes you must make to get you through the treatment. 

Below are some of the most common side effects of the most common cancer treatments:

Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy drugs can damage healthy cells as well as cancer cells. This can lead to a variety of side effects, including: 

  • Nausea and vomiting: This is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. It can be severe and can make it difficult to eat and drink. 
  • Hair loss: Hair loss is another common side effect of chemotherapy. It usually starts a few weeks after treatment begins and can be temporary or permanent. 
  • Fatigue: Fatigue is a common side effect of many cancer treatments. It can make it difficult to do everyday activities. 
  • Anaemia: Chemotherapy can damage the bone marrow, leading to anaemia. Anaemia is when the body does not have enough red blood cells. This can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and pale skin. 
  • Infection: Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off infection. 
  • Other side effects are acid reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, fever, cough and neuropathy, which causes numbness, weakness and pain, usually in the hands and legs. 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can damage healthy cells as well as cancer cells. This can lead to a variety of side effects depending on the area being treated and includes:  

  • Skin reactions: Radiation therapy can cause the skin to become red, dry, and irritated. In some cases, it can lead to blistering and peeling. 
  • Mucositis: Radiation therapy can damage the mouth, throat, and stomach lining. This can lead to pain, difficulty swallowing, and diarrhoea. 
  • Fatigue: Radiation therapy can cause fatigue, making it difficult to do everyday activities. 
  • Infection: Radiation therapy, too, can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off infections. 

Allogenic stem cell transplantation

Allogenic stem cell transplantation is a complex procedure that involves replacing the patient’s bone marrow using healthy blood stem cells from a donor. 

Graft-versus-host disease is a complication of this transplantation and occurs when the donated stem cells attack the patient’s body.  

Different medication is provided by the various institutions to prevent this complication from happening. 

GVHD presents various symptoms affecting the mouth, skin, nails, hair loss, lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, muscles, joints, and even genitalia. 

Managing side effects

Managing the side effects of cancer treatment can be challenging, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. Many resources are available to help you manage your side effects and continue to live your life to the fullest. 

Cancer treatments can be very aggressive, designed to target rapidly dividing cells. This can lead to side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, and nausea. However, it is important to remember that these side effects are temporary and necessary to the treatment process. With your doctor’s support, you can manage these side effects and focus on improving. 

Unfortunately, a treatment that targets and destroys cancerous cells also destroys healthy cells and may cause these side effects. However, the side effects are not always directly related to the treatment, and there are ways that these can be managed. 

Talk to your Doctor: Keep the line of communication between you and your doctor open, and work with your doctor to manage your treatment side effects. Side effects related to the treatment vary depending on the treatment type used, such as the different chemotherapy drugs used and their strength, as well as the radiation dose and length of the radiation treatment. The side effects you feel are also related to any other underlying health conditions you may have. 

Get support: Many support groups are available for people with cancer and their loved ones. These groups can provide emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of community. 

Take care of yourself: Taking care of yourself physically and mentally during cancer treatment is essential. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. It is also important to find ways to relax and de-stress. 

Use medication: Many medications are available to help manage the side effects of cancer treatment. Your doctor can help you choose the right medicines for your needs. 

Consider complementary and alternative therapies: Many complementary and alternative therapies help manage the side effects of cancer treatment. These therapies should be used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment and should only be used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. 

It is important to remember that everyone experiences side effects differently. What works for one person may not work for another. It is essential to find what works best for you and to be patient and persistent. 

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. 


(2022, September 13). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic:

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