I find it interesting that most people use the term palliative therapy when they are referring to a patient who has no options available or is in the end process of their disease. The adverb palliative means affording relief, but not a cure. This type of treatment is conducive to every aspect of the disease of cancer and it includes self care. There were a number of ways that I eased my condition, without necessarily finding a cure for it. I think that each person will have their own ways based on their own needs, but let me share with you some suggestions for achieving some comfort during your treatments through the use of self care:
Accept the emotions - many cancers patients go through a whole range of emotions while undergoing treatment. Don't chastise yourself because you are feeling emotions that are normally uncomfortable to you. They are a fact of having a serious disease. Accept them and know that this too shall pass.
Acquire patience - this includes patience with yourself and your body. It may not always do what you want it to do. You also need to learn to have patience with your disease. It is a slow process, sometimes.
Act responsibly - do your best to keep all of your appointments for treatments and follow-ups. Many treatments need to be done at a regular pattern in order to work efficiently. Don't forget those very important follow up visits. They may be critical to your continued health.
Ask for help - it is essential to learn how to ask for help. Believe me, at some point in your journey, you will need assistance from others. Don't be afraid to ask. Practice now.
Be proactive - become a central member of your treatment team. Cancer can make us feel like our lives are completely out of control. Becoming involved in treatment decisions and learning about your disease can give you a sense of regaining at least a portion of that control.
Be stubborn - yup, you heard me right. Here is another great opportunity to do something in life that you have always wanted to do, without feeling guilty. If you believe that you are getting inferior treatment, being treated rudely, or being ignored by your doctor- complain, loudly if you need to. Demand quality care, your life may depend on it.
Do a kind deed - while I was having radiation, there was a gentleman that I saw everyday. He was like me, alone, trying to muster up the energy to get back and forth to treatments on his own. But, unlike me, he was losing a great deal of weight. That tugged at my heart. One afternoon, I made him a huge plate of fattening home-made cookies. I brought them to him as a graduation present on his final day of treatment. He thanked me with a huge smile and tears in his eyes. It made him extremely happy and, as a result, he picked up my spirits 100 fold.
Do only what you can - this is a time in life when you need to limit yourself to doing those things that you are physically able to do. Don't push yourself into exhaustion. Your body needs your cooperation to fight this disease.
Eat - if you are able to eat, make sure you find the time and strength to do that. If not, ask for help from your treating doctors or facilities. Your body needs to be nourished to fight your disease and the side effects you may encounter.
Learn to be flexible - treatments for cancer can sometimes be extremely hard on the human body and the human spirit. If you try to go through it without some personal flexibility, you may find the journey intolerable.
Live your life - well meaning people will give you all kinds of advice. It is their way of letting you know they care. But you will need to live your own life and do what you are comfortable doing. Don't let others should you.
Overcome the fear - being diagnosed with cancer can be a terrifying event. Don't let that fear immobilize you. Yes you may die of cancer, but if you can overcome the fear enough to fight, you have a much better chance of living.
Pay attention - you will need to pay attention to your body and your physical needs at this point. Side effects and pain may come on abruptly or in increments. The sooner your doctor is made aware of them, the better. Many side effects can be relieved by supportive medication. And pain is always easier to handle if medicated prior to the onset of extreme pain levels.
Rest - allow yourself the time and space to rest when you need it. A period of rest or a nap is sometimes a much needed invigorator, allowing you to accomplish more in the long run.
Smell the roses - this is one time in your life when you have a valid reason to stop and spend time on nothing other than appreciating the nicer things in life. You get to stand at a rose bush and smell the roses and just enjoy their existence. And if you choose to spend half of your day doing that, no one will complain. Expectations that others have of you diminish a great deal when you are battling cancer. Take advantage of this opportunity.
Talk to others - trying to hold the emotional and physical burden alone is extremely hard. Find someone that you feel comfortable with and talk. You may need to talk about feelings or finances or practical problems. A problem shared is a problem much more easily solved.
Cancer Supportive Care - suggestions and guides for self care during treatment.