The Dos and Don’ts of Chemotherapy

Ease cancer treatment recovery by understanding the dos and don’ts of chemotherapy.

The benefits of chemotherapy are incredible, without question, and can save someone’s life. However, during the process of destroying harmful cancer cells, noncancerous cells can be in the crossfire, leading to challenging side effects. The doctor will provide instructions for cancer patients, which should include both the dos and don’ts of chemotherapy

What Should You Avoid During Chemotherapy?

  • Vitamins: A 2019 study pointed to evidence of a decrease in chemo’s effectiveness and a significant reduction in the desired outcome by those who were taking certain vitamins (including B12, A, and C).
  • Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria and yeast, but skip them during chemo due to the body’s weakened immune system.
  • Strenuous work and exercise: This includes both physically and mentally taxing tasks, which could worsen fatigue, stress, nausea, and mood swings.
  • Infections: Because the immune system is compromised during chemotherapy, it’s important to stay away from those who are sick.
  • UV light: Limit exposure to sunlight and stay away from tanning beds, which can have a more severe effect on the skin in someone receiving chemotherapy.
  • Smoking: Smoking may cause hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) in cancer tumors and other areas of the body, which could impact the efficacy of chemo and worsen side effects.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can exacerbate the negative side effects of chemo, even in very small amounts.

There are also a number of types of foods to stay away from during chemo treatment, such as:

  • Blue and other moldy cheeses
  • Seville oranges and their juice
  • Raw honey
  • Grapefruits and grapefruit juice
  • Raw fish and shellfish
  • Hard, sharp foods such as potato chips, crackers, cookies, and granola
  • Raw nuts
  • Soft-cooked or raw eggs
  • Foods from bulk bins
  • Spicy and acidic foods and condiments
  • Fresh salsa and salad dressing

Chemo To-Dos

While avoiding the items above, the following action items can be helpful during chemotherapy:

  • Reduce the threat of infection by washing hands frequently, avoiding large crowds, and getting flu and COVID-19 vaccinations (if recommended by the doctor).
  • Lessen fatigue by arranging for transportation to and from chemo appointments and designating both the day of and also the day after chemo as days of rest.
  • Protect the skin from sensitivity and dryness by using gentle soap and moisturizing the skin often, wearing sunscreen, and selecting loose-fitting clothes and a hat when outdoors.
  • Mitigate appetite problems by eating smaller, more frequent meals (including plenty of protein), drinking at least 8 – 12 cups of water each day, and staying as physically active as possible to help increase appetite.

Remember that support is extremely important during cancer treatment. Build a solid network of family and friends and include a professional caregiver to make certain all needs – emotional, physical, and spiritual – will be met during this challenging time.

Cancer care can be complicated. Let Serenity Home Care’s fully trained and experienced care professionals help. Contact us at 250.590.8098 for a free in-home consultation today.