Chemotherapy’s Bad Rap Sheet

Hello lovelies! Welcome to my page if this is your first time. A happy Mother’s Day to all the women out there caring, nurturing, helping, doing,…..fill in the blanks. Bigger shout-out to mother’s going through active treatment and to the mothers caring for their children going through the journey. I had the pleasure of speaking with my mum to wish her a wonderful mother’s day. She was a hands on mum when the chips were down. She followed me to radiation treatment. She was around for the two surgeries. She took care of all of us (love you mama).  Funny enough, Mother’s day has already been celebrated in Nigeria. I never remember the day so, she knows that we call her on the American Mother’s Day (why are we different from the rest of the world?).

I have been exploring the different standard medical treatments this month. Chemotherapy tends to give people the chills. There are so many misconceptions about chemotherapy I do not even know where to start. I did not want to jump to radiation therapy because I wanted to set ‘some record straight.’ I have heard folks say, cancer treatment will kill you faster than the cancer. I have heard folks say chemotherapy does not work. I have heard people say chemotherapy is a hoax….the list is on and on and I am sure you have heard a thing or two. I also know, personally, people who refused to go for chemotherapy due to misconceptions and wrong information.

If you want to know more about chemotherapy, The American Cancer Society website has a slew of information, written by certified medical professionals in the oncology space so that a patient or a care giver can have the right information. I will also say, the chemotherapy procedure for 30 years ago is far different from the chemotherapy procedure of today. At least in more developed countries. I had my treatment in the US, Massachusetts to be precise in one of the top leading cancer centers of the world. Dana Farber’s approach to cancer care is from research lab to bed side, so as a patient you have doctors and scientists working hand in hand to bring the best of treatment to you. 30 years ago, you had no choice but to be hospitalized in order to have chemotherapy and survive the side effects. Today people go for chemotherapy in an outpatient setting and they go to work. I call them the “Armstrongers”. The side effects are way more tolerable. With adequate rest, nutrition and use of post treatment medications (steroids, anti-emetic, etc0). Chemotherapy is more tolerable.

The other side effects can be managed too. If it’s hair loss, get yourself some diva wigs. Chemotherapy also causes dryness. You literarily dry out from the inside and outside. Your skin, your mouth, for us ladies… down low..:) Chemotherapy strips all mucous membrane that keep us lubricated. It is important that you fall in love with hydration, moisturizing the skin and constant lubrication of the mouth, and other orifices as needed. It’s manageable!

Your immune system is weakened but you can boost it by what you eat and ensuring that you take lots of fruits high in vitamin C. I had my whole household on a Kiwi regimen while I was undergoing treatment. I could you not afford anyone to be sick. No way! So I forced them on “1 kiwi a day” diet. It was a must. I did not have a cold once! We were all healthy. Of course I have relaxed a bit but I make sure I add EmergenC to my rooibos tea every day. I need to take care of me because I am still immuno-compromised.

When on chemotherapy it is very important to avoid ALL forms of injury, cuts, bites, etc. The skin thins out and is very delicate. You cannot afford burns, bites and other injury. The drug has a way of softening the body. Moral of the story: be careful, take it easy, eat well, rest a lot, and keep your mind focused on something beautiful. It is important that you have something that distracts you from the treatment process. TamBo’s Kitchen was my happy place. It was as if I had a baby and something wanted to take me away from it. My baby became something I looked forward to. I did not think of the side effects. I did not sit down. True confession: I do not know how to sit down, but I know when to shut in and rest. I don’t play with the need to rest.

I hope I have convinced you a little bit about chemotherapy. It works. When in doubt, talk to your doctor. Have a wonderful rest of the week. Love you lots and see you next week!