Written by
Janet McLain
December 9, 2020 4:06 PM

The Sur-THRIVE-al Guide

How in the world do you survive, much less thrive through cancer?! I had left the doctor’s office with an epic amount of paper enough to fill an encyclopedia. This volume was filled with the names of drugs that were about to enter my body that happened to be  written in some sort of unpronounceable doctor-ese. The side effect list for each was long and daunting certain to kill me or at the very least make my existence unrecognizable...diarrhea, constipation, heart complications, peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling of the hands and feet), hair loss, nausea, heartburn, arthralgia and myalgia (pain in the joints and muscles), fatigue, taste changes, appetite changes, mouth sores...jeez! Just weeks ago, I was sitting there feeling like a hotty, not a care in the world, a hamster on the wheel of life and loving it. What a bleak picture was painted for me now? How in the world is someone supposed to manage? To say I was scared is an understatement. Dr. Tough But Wonderful’s nurse did an excellent job of going through the lists, but, seriously, had she had any of these drugs?!?!? Suddenly, my world was gray and, as you know, I have never liked the hazy world of the unknown. I am a black and white girl all the way. 

At the ripe old age of 41, I had no one to talk to, nowhere to turn. I tried going to a support group, but soon realized I was the one doing the supporting. I turned to the internet. What a mistake! Talk about a joy kill! The internet had me killed off in a manner similar to an episode on a demented crime show. Unfortunately, I had to undergo the trial and error...feet to fire approach to managing my specific side effects. The first thing one needs to realize is that no matter how long the list of side effects might be, you may not get any of them or you might only have to manage one or two. I have yet to see a client that has had diarrhea and constipation at the same time! How can you determine which side effects you might experience? There is no real way to know, but chemotherapy and immune targeted therapy side effects tend to affect your achilles heel. I suffer from heart burn on a regular basis and I had an increase when taking Adriamycin. I had an old joint injury from my “dancing” (I use that term loosely) days and I had some discomfort in that joint while taking Taxotere. The good news is there are tricks, natural and medicinal, to help you thrive and survive chemo and immunotherapies.

At Cancierge, we have guided over 1,000 women who have walked this path. It has allowed us to create what we affectionately call our “Sur-thrive-al Guide”. Remember, you will not experience all of these maladies. You may not experience any of them. But, knowledge is power! Knowing how to eliminate or minimize these aftereffects of chemotherapy or immunotherapy is the goal. Our Sur-THRIVE-al Guide is accessible by clicking here or by going to our Resources tab on the Cancierge website, cancierge.org.  I hope this little packet of love and tips helps you THRIVE through your journey. As always, you are not alone...

Because we have been there,

Janet McLain