After addressing the gastrointestinal side effects of mesothelioma treatments in the second part of this series, we thought we’d continue by covering the ways that chemotherapy can affect your blood and immune health.
Keep in mind that at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we believe that mesothelioma patients deserve to know their medical and legal options. That means using online education, seeking patient advocacy and, above all, asking your doctor or lawyer for their expert opinions.
Talk to your physician if you have any of these blood-related side effects of treatments for mesothelioma:
Anemia. Some chemo regimens can lower your red blood cell count, leaving you weak or fatigued. Doctors may give you medicines to reverse this. They will almost certainly encourage you to eat foods with more protein (eggs, peanut butter, fish, red meat) and iron (spinach, collards, red meat, dried beans). If you have anemia, get lots of sleep, take plenty of naps and try short, slow walks every day.
Bleeding. Chemo can make it harder for your blood to clot and wounds to heal. This means that the number-one strategy for bleeding problems is to protect your skin and avoid nicks and cuts. Use an electric shaver, not a razor. Wear shoes as much as possible. Blow your nose gently. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Avoid knives, dental floss, toothpicks and sharp objects. Use pads, not tampons. Do not pick at scabs or whiteheads. If you notice bruises, bleeding that won’t stop, or red urine or stool, call a doctor immediately.
Infections. Chemotherapy often delivers a heavy blow to the immune system by drastically reducing white blood cell counts. This makes it very easy to get infections. While you are in the hospital, you will have access to sterile spaces and surfaces, but at home you’ll have to be more careful. A quick and easy method for reducing your risk is washing your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer regularly. Again, avoid razors and scissors. Don’t squeeze pimples or mess with scabs. If you are catheterized, keep the area as clean as you can. Brush gently.
Finally, avoid germs – that means steering clear of sick people, raw meat or eggs, litter boxes, pet feces, unwashed produce and people who have recently been vaccinated. If you develop a fever (100.5 deg F or higher), chills, sores, rashes, a cough, swelling or unusual joint stiffness, talk to your doctor or nurse immediately.