For every person with cancer, there’s a different, unique story about how cancer affects people. This will be true in your case, and there’s a lot that will take you by surprise — in both positive and negative ways. 

There’s still a lot of commonalities among patients’ experiences, and so there’s a lot you can do to get ready. Here are four such things, and what you can do to prepare.

Your Spiritual Life May Change

Researchers have conducted a great number of studies into how spirituality affects cancer outcomes. The research, which includes data from over 44,000 people in total, clearly shows that the more spiritual or religious cancer patients are, the better they do. Physically, they cope better with their day-to-day chores and show fewer side effects, emotionally, they show better mental health and socially they hold on better to their social roles and relationships.

However, cancer can have varied effects on people’s spiritual lives, awakening some non-spiritual people and causing some religious people to question their faith. So if you are religious or spiritual, be ready for this, and try to stay connected to this side of your life. You could do this by reading relevant faith-based texts, maintaining any rituals or practices you take part in, seeking in-person support from spiritual leaders, or visiting churches and other sacred places associated with your religion.

You’ll Need Support from Others

Social support is a strong ally in your fight against cancer. One study of breast cancer survivors found that patients with strong social ties lived longer and had a lower risk of the cancer returning. So don’t face your troubles and the psychological stress of cancer alone — stay in touch with friends and family, and don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Alternatively, you can seek out services such as local support groups. Ask your SF chiropractor what resources are available to you, and do some research into charities operating in your area. Make a list of people, nonprofits helplines and other organizations you can contact.

Prepare for Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment can produce side effects that are difficult to deal with, and each person reacts differently. Talk to your doctor about the common side effects of the treatment you will be undertaking, and plan out how you will manage them. The American Cancer Society has a great resource on managing side effects, too. It’s also a good idea to check with your health insurance provider to see what they cover. For example, some plans cover wigs, hairpieces and scalp cooling for hair loss, but others do not — check early so you’re not fit with a financial surprise later.

You may lose your appetite and experience nausea during your treatment, but it’s important to eat as much good, quality food as you can. Nutrient-dense food including avocados, bananas and nuts might be easier to eat and meal-replacement shakes are a good way to get some extra calories and protein in. If you experience bouts of fatigue, try to get exercise during those times you do have energy.

Prepare for Side Effects of Opioids

If you have been given opioid drugs for pain, be aware that these can be habit-forming. If you feel an urge to take more of it than you have been prescribed, talk to your doctor about this immediately. If you have concerns, don’t abruptly stop using the drug, as this can trigger withdrawal symptoms. As well as being habit forming, opioids can cause a number of side effects, especially when they are taken regularly. According to a paper published in the journal Pain Physician, the most common side effects are drowsiness, nausea, constipation and breathing difficulties. If you notice these or any other symptoms, consult your doctor for advice.

You can’t prepare for everything, but do what you can to prepare both mentally and practically. As noted earlier, cancer affects everyone differently, so self-care will be an ongoing, dynamic process. The most important thing is to make sure you take time for yourself and reach out for support when you need it.

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