Being diagnosed with ovarian cancer can be a traumatic experience. You will have a lot of questions and issues you will need to address with your doctors and your family. The treatment your doctors want to pursue will be dependent on a wide range of factors related directly to the progression of your cancer at diagnosis.
However, the most common path of treatment for ovarian cancer is chemotherapy, which comes with many possible side effects that many patients say may be scarier than cancer. The most common side effects of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer include exhaustion, nausea, anemia, mouth sores, and hair loss.
When undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, it is vital to take it easy. While you may be accustomed to moving nonstop due to work, family, and life, you are going to need to slow down. Ask for help and take time to rest when you need it—taking naps, eating healthy, and getting physical activity when you can is going to help you feel better and more energized overall.
Nausea is a common problem for patients getting chemotherapy. While there are medications, you can ask your doctor about, eating small light meals will help. Aim for several small meals throughout the day opposed to two or three large meals. It is also vital to stay hydrated. Drinking water and sports drinks with electrolytes are going to be very important. Vomiting can quickly cause dehydration, which can make nausea worse in addition to causing other health problems.
The chemotherapy can also cause anemia, which is when the iron count in your blood drops. Anemia can cause you to bruise easily and bleed more than usual if cut or scraped. Anemia can also cause exhaustion, which will add to the fatigue you may already be feeling from the chemotherapy.
If you are experiencing anemia, your doctor will likely prescribe you iron pills, which will bring up your blood count. However, the iron will cause constipation, so staying hydrated will be even more critical. It is also important to take iron with food because it can cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach. Your doctor may caution you to other possible side effects caused by the iron.
One of the lesser-known side effects of chemotherapy is developing mouth sores. These can be painful, making eating and drinking uncomfortable. If you do get mouth sores, your doctor can prescribe a mouth wash that will help numb the sores. However, you are going to want to avoid foods and drinks that will aggravate the sores, including anything spicy or acidic. You will also want to avoid alcohol and anything too salty. Using lip balm regularly will also lessen the pain caused by the sores.
One of the most noticeable side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. The hair loss is also a side effect than many women struggle with the most. Most women choose to wear a wig, scarf wrap, or hat to cover their heads until their hair grows back.
Hair loss happens in a variety of ways, and it may occur over time, as opposed to suddenly. You can use ponytail extensions to help your hair look fuller if it is noticeably thinner during the process. Hair extensions can help you put off the need to shave your head as you lose more sections of hair. Once it is progressed, you can switch to a wig or headcover. You can also choose not to cover your head. While many women are uncomfortable with baldness, some women feel empowered to not cover their heads. They are making an unequivocal statement that their cancer will not define them as women.