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Friday, October 5, 2007

More tips from a friend

As promised, I do have more tips from my friend about going through the various treatments in store. Here are some from that vault of knowledge she has passed along, tops among them will be among the most difficult: "Stay away from chocolate," she says. "Hard as that is, for some reason it makes the nausea worse, and trust me -- you don't want anything helping in that department. Folks told me that and I ignored it -- paid dearly for it, too."

She also said it's a good idea to get your teeth cleaned before starting the treatments. Of course this to a man who skipped dental work through the '80s. "Get your teeth cleaned if you can, before you start treatment. If not, call your dentist, tell him/her what's going on and ask if there's anything you can do. I know that sounds odd, but they gave me a very strong fluoride rinse to help protect my teeth from the drugs/rads." In this regard, there's one final suggestion: "Has the doctor said anything about 'magic mouthwash?' It's VILE, but it does help. Ask about it."

This friend and another both warned me of the sunburn-like blistering the radiation can cause. One tip from another friend was to get Solarcane to help with the blistering, especially on the head. My young friend writes this: "You may get like a sunburn from rads ... ask the doc's office for Aquaphor if they don't give it to you on their own. It helps with the burn. I think they sell it at Walgreen's, too, and it's over-the-counter."

And she also says that as much as I enjoy the contacts from friends and family, there will be times I won't. When that happens, don't be afraid to say so: "I'm sure you have an amazing support network. It definitely helps, believe me. But there are two things many people who aren't going through this don't realize. For starters, they may be by your side every step of the way, but ultimately YOU are the one going through this. I know my family would get mad at me when I said that, but the bottom line is I was the only one who was feeling all the side effects from the drugs and rads, no one else. And the second thing is, many people will want to check on you, call you, wish you well, etc. I relished it. In the beginning. After a while, it got old and I started to resent the constant inquiries. Everyone always asked with that anxious look in their eyes, praying that today was better. It always killed me to see that, especially on days it WASN'T better and I felt like hell."

And finally, she offers these wise words. "Seriously, though, don't feel like you have to be 'on' all the time. It takes its toll, and you need all the strength you can get. You'll figure it out for yourself, what your comfort levels are, but just try not to feel that pressure."

Thanks, my friend, for all the good advice. Keep the tips coming, and if anyone else has something to suggest, please do. We'll be in touch.


Lilly said...

A couple of more tips that I learned from being a caregiver:

As far as food, don't just stay away from the chocolate (although dark pure chocolate, not milk chocolate, contains antioxidants that can actually replenish cancer patients undergoing chemo), but definitely and absolutely no coffee! No caffeine at all. It dehydrates. You need as much water as you can drink. Keep the water coming, even if you don't feel like drinking it. Chicken broth sounds boring and not very appetizing, but it's important that you drink it as well. Also, apple juice is extremely acidic, so no apple juice if you're nauseous. In fact, nothing acidic.

As far as everything else, allow yourself to get angry, upset, frustrated...and don't ever feel bad about it. The people around you will understand. The whole "don't feel like you have to be 'on' all the time" thing--I couldn't agree more. Ultimately, you are the one who's going through it, and no one will understand better than you.

Most importantly, though, and I tell you this because it was vital in my mother's journey and it was ultimately the best thing she could have done for herself--don't stop being you. Allow yourself to be angry and upset, but also allow yourself twice as much to be happy and positive and encouraged. Don't feel sorry for yourself and don't allow people to feel sorry for you. And do not, under any circumstances, allow toxic, negative people to cloud your mind or your space with their negativity. Many times people mean well, but you need all of the positive vibes you can get. "Everybody Loves Raymond" was the favorite show around my house, and watching the news was off-limits. Don't stop being you.

You can do this, Keith. You are loved and cared for and you are strong.

Oh yeah, and plan for that party at the end of your treatment :). Something to look forward to, that can be your treat. And believe me, we WILL celebrate. BIG!

Hang in there, my friend. Tough times are ahead, but everything will be alright. We're behind you and your family 1,000 percent.

(sorry this was so long! *lol)


Keith W. Kohn said...


Thanks for the great advice. Really appreciate it.