Use these tips from experts and patients to thrive during treatment:
Your body needs rest during chemo, so this isn't the time to tackle everything solo. Don't hesitate to ask family and friends for assistance, because "it's generous to let people help you people feel good about themselves when they help others. Make a list of tasks you need help with, such as caring for a child, preparing meals, doing laundry and driving to medical appointments.
Join a Support Group
It can be comforting to talk with others who are going through—or have already completed—treatment. In addition to venting your fears and frustrations, you may glean some words of wisdom. It is recommend that patients talk to someone who's already been through chemo. . That way, they can see there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Not everyone likes to share their personal experiences with a group. If that's you, remember that it's not healthy to keep your worries bottled up. So put your own private support team on speed dial.
You may not be able to keep up with all your usual commitments, so prioritize the most important ones. Keep in mind, cancer can change what tops the list. You may decide, for instance, to change jobs to reduce your stress level. Thinking you might die gives you permission to do all the things you thought you might do someday right now.
Consider Changing Your Work Schedule
Share your treatment schedule with your boss. If fatigue or other symptoms are interfering with your ability to work, ask about taking time off or working part-time from home.
Don't Beat Yourself Up If You Can't Do Everything
Plan as best you can, but be prepared to cancel—or delay—a scheduled activity if you aren't feeling up to it. Remember, your top priority is to get well.
Visualize Getting Better
Imagine your cancer cells disappearing and your body growing healthier and stronger. This optimistic outlook can ease stress and promote relaxation, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). And focusing on your treatment goal can help keep you going when you have a bad day.
Keep a Journal
Write down anything that makes you happy—a joke, a random act of kindness, a cute thing your child said. When you're feeling down, turn to your journal for a quick mood boost.
Read Inspirational Books
A day will come when the treatment will be finished, and you can get on with your life. You might find inspiration from spiritual books, poetry collections or other readings.
It really is good medicine. Laughter can help ill people boost their mood, ease stress and anxiety, and improve their quality of life so go to a comedy show, watch a funny movie or horse around in the backyard with the kids—and laugh!
Crank Up Your Favorite Tunes
Try a Beatle’s tune!
Make Time for Exercise
Working out is essential, since it can help fight fatigue, nausea, pain and depression—and improve your quality of life.
Make Fitness Fun
Exercise doesn't have to be a chore. Take a ballroom dance class, try Pilates or go for a hike or bike ride outside. The fresh air will do you good! And get a friend to join you. It will make your workouts more fun—and keep them on track.
Check out Wigs, Scarves, Hats or Turbans
If losing your hair will upset you, consider a beautiful head covering. A change in your appearance can lead to stress and anxiety. If you're thinking about getting a wig, consider doing it before your hair falls out so it can be matched to your color and style.
Indulge in a Makeover
If treatments are making you unhappy with your appearance, consider getting a makeover at a local cosmetics counter (some may be free).
Book a Spa Treatment
Enjoy a pedicure, seaweed wrap, massage or other pampering service. Some massages are available for cancer patients free of charge.
Try Something New
Patients are encouraged to try a range of activities, including crocheting, scrapbooking, tai chi, or take a cake-decorating workshop. Do it now!
Give yourself permission to be a couch potato sometimes. Take breaks and rest when you feel tired and weak.
Give Yourself Permission to Feel Sad, Angry or Both
Expect a bad day every now and then. Don't force yourself to be upbeat all the time.
Celebrate Your Successes
At the end of each chemo cycle, treat yourself to something special—perhaps a meal from a favorite restaurant, a new pair of shoes or even a long soak in the tub. You deserve it!