The mind is a powerful tool. This is why I consciously thought about how I could make things easier for my mind before starting chemo.
These tips are personal to me and everyone is on their own journey. However, I’m all about spreading the love. I’m happy to be potentially helping others by sharing.
I split the tips into Mind, Body and Soul to make sure I covered my holistic needs.
1. Short Hair Don’t Care
Losing my hair was a major psychological challenge. I had lots of healthy debate with my Consultant regarding cold caps, which can help retain your hair during treatment. However, based on the type and grade of cancer, this wasn’t an option. Once the decision was made, I firmly believe it was an easier transition going from lots of hair to short hair before having no hair. This was the best personal decision I could have made. It freed up so much mental space.
2. Cannula Be Gone
The cannula for the multiple blood tests, scans and treatments was my second biggest cause of anxiety. I don’t have easily accessible veins and found the whole process of insertion and the feeling of the drugs coursing through my veins stressful. The port insertion is simple procedure under local anaesthetic. I had it fitted in my chest, there is an option for your arm. One additional top tip if you have a chest port is to discuss placement with your surgeon before fitting. I highly recommend not going too far out to the side as it can cause friction with your bra strap. Getting a port fitted for me was which for me was game changing, my anxiety around needles melted away.
3. Ying Yang Balance
I’m all about balancing my ying and yang energy. This meant actively counter acting healing, complimentary therapies along side the more toxic modern medicine. Incorporating therapies such as reflexology, reiki and massage into my treatment plan helped calm my mind, reduce stress and helped reduce chemo after effects such as pain, fatigue and low mood. I used this on the days before my chemo sessions and during the sessions themselves. The Health Trust where I receive treatment offer these services free on the NHS. Being a very natural soul, retaining balance of energy was a must.
4. Brows on Fleek
When it comes to having no hair, there’s something about eyebrows that still frame the face. Knowing there was a high likelihood that I’d lose all my hair including eyebrows and lashes, I decided to get some semi permanent brows. These should last the duration of my 6 chemo cycles with a potential top up of ink there after. These need to be done by an experienced therapist and well ahead of your first chemo session to give your body time to heal. It was a great investment as you’ll see in the video.
5. Paint it Black
A wonderful tip provided by my medical staff. Black nail polish for some reason can prevent nail beds from lifting. As chemo can negatively impact nails causing these to become brittle, discoloured and potentially fall off, particularly on the toes, I decided to take preventative measures. I was lucky enough to receive some complimentary black nail polish from the charity Chemogiftbags who are there to help the experience of chemo just that little bit easier with thoughtful and practical gifts.
6. No More Sour Grapes
One of the side effects from chemo treatment can be painful mouth ulcers which make it even more difficult to eat and drink. This is at a time when metallic taste, changes in appetite and food tastes are all at play. Keeping the mouth cold can help protect the mouth from ulcers forming. I did this by eating frozen grapes, which are a lovely snack, like a natural little ice lolly. Or sucking a few ice cubes during treatment.
7. Simple Pleasures
In an unfamiliar environment, full of uncertainty, I found having a few familiar items of comfort from home can make a real difference. I brought in a favourite big mug for tea, as well as a comforting blanket, again curtsey of Chemogiftbags. It made a sterile environment a little more hospitable.
8. Learning to Accept Unconditional Love
After a lifetime of independent living and never having to call people for real help a shift in mindset was needed. Leaning on loved ones for support and allowing them to look after you physically and emotionally where necessary was a real learning curve. I reframed this in my mind so accepting help wasn’t about being less capable, rather more about ensuring I had optimised energy to strengthen my immune system and spirit for the tough road ahead. It also strengthened and deepened my close relationships. We should also remember people get a lot of pleasure out of giving.
These tips continue to help me. I hope you found them useful. I appreciate you being on my journey with me.
More to follow soon on my Cycle 2 experience.
Twitter – @transcendencec1
Instagram – @transcendencecoaching
You Tube – Transcendence Coaching