How do you explain what’s ahead, when a person has just become a cancer patient?  How do you explain what’s ahead for the loved one who has just become a care giver?

It’s important to think before you speak.  You know they’re both a little stunned by the news and can only be thinking the worst of what the future will hold.  So when they ask, “What’s chemo going to be like?” it’s important not to roll you eyes, “ooh” and “aah” or begin by telling terrible tales of nausea and chemo brain. 

NO….take them down this path, honestly but with caution.  Remind them everyone has an individual experience with chemo therapy and not everyone ends up with a bald head.  Same goes for radiation.   They should know about the fatigue that comes with treatment, but other side effects can vary depending on the location of the cancer. 

I think it’s important to educate them about nutrition.  Eating the right foods can help a lot as they progress through treatment.  Hydration is important.  Even if they don’t feel like eating or drinking, suggest they try smaller meals to ease with digestion.  Exercise is another important part of dodging chemo kick-back.  Explain they won’t always feel like getting up and moving, but even a short walk will help.

Most “about to be” cancer patients have some idea of what treatment will do to them.  They’ve read about it, heard about it from friends who have already gone through it or they’ve seen stories about it on TV.   It’s hard not to know anything about cancer and it’s prescribed therapies these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to lower the boom either.

That’s already happened…so go easy when it comes to explaining the road ahead.

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