At a recent Health & Wellbeing meeting held by Dorset County Hospital Cancer Services a lady in the audience asked if there was anything practical she could do to help herself to feel “more like her old self” following her cancer treatment. Many audience members commented and the consensus was that fatigue was the most common side effect of the cancer treatment, closely followed by poor digestion. The list continued with changes in mental capacity, sleep, mobility, body image, libido, social and family dynamics, hormones and managing stress.
As one of the professional speakers I waited until after the session had finished and then approached the lady to listen to her story and if appropriate offer any help. Listening to Mrs S it became clear that before the shock of her diagnosis she had not felt unwell. Living a very full and active life. Balancing as many women do, working full time with her three children in full time education, one away at university. Helping her husband to run his business and being an informal carer for two sets of parents. Her life had been running at full speed.
Mrs S described her diagnosis as traumatic, and how she went into a state of denial, refusing to accept the severity of the situation for several months. It was partway through her chemotherapy that the penny finally dropped. This after a conversation with another patient who had been very unwell during her chemotherapy and had picked up a viral infection and needed to be hospitalized until well enough to continue with the cancer treatment regime.
Mrs S completed her cancer treatment and was extremely grateful, feeling lucky to be where she now was. However, her energy level was low and she was fed up with feeling tired all the time. Her appetite was poor and she didn’t have any enthusiasm for food or eating as she often felt nausea and everything tasted strange. “We used to enjoy eating together as a family….I can’t be bothered to cook and there’s no pleasure in eating out anymore” With weight loss and not sleeping well, trying to move forward from such a traumatic diagnosis and gruelling treatment regime to get back into her life “full time” left her frustrated.
We discussed the importance of accepting change and altering our perspective to gain more realistic expectations. It is helpful to recognise that we can be our own worst taskmaster. One thing I have learnt from my patients is patience.
Upon returning home I put together and emailed Mrs S the following information. Which I now include in my power-point presentations.
Holistic Support for Cancer and Long Term Illness.
1.Nutritional Diet. Vitamins/Minerals & Re-balance Gut.
2.Movement for Stamina. Strength, Mobility, Circulation.
3.Homoeopathic/Herbal remedies for Sleep & Constitution.
4.Talking Therapy. Stress Triggers & Coping Mechanisms.
5.Hands on Therapy. Beneficial & Relaxing, Comfort, Soothing.
6. Support Groups/Clubs. Information & Socializing.
7. Mindfulness. Become pro-active and regain control. Mrs S telephoned me for an appointment for Food Intolerance Testing, she was interested to identify if there was anything she could be eliminating or in fact adding to her diet to support her recovery. ©AW/2017