Treatments for mesothelioma come in all shapes and sizes, from relatively minor surgeries and low-dose radiation sessions to radical operations, high-dose radiotherapy and combination chemotherapy regimens.
Each of these treatments comes with certain side effects, many of which can be dealt with at home. And those that are tougher to endure often don’t seem as bad if you know about them ahead of time. At Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, we’ve found that the old adage is true: forewarned is forearmed.
By knowing what to expect from your mesothelioma treatments, it’s often easier to deal with them. Here are some common side effects you may experience, as well as techniques that can lessen their severity:
- Fatigue. Of all the side effects that come with cancer treatments, this one is probably the most unavoidable. Nearly every treatment for mesothelioma results in fatigue – often a bone-tired exhaustion, the kind you’d expect to feel after running a marathon. Dealing with it often means, first and foremost, getting rest. Your body knows what you need. Once you’ve recovered from a treatment, an activity that will help is getting exercise. However, you need to start small – really small. Usually, a good exercise regimen will begin with a short walk or two each day. Only after a few months will you be able to handle more. For safety, consider exercising with a buddy.
- Nausea. This is the side effect everyone dreads. Often caused by chemotherapy, post-treatment nausea can be surprisingly intense. To relieve the worst of it, you doctor will probably put you on a prescription antiemetic. As a basic rule, the best way to push through days of nausea is to try to eat and drink during quiet periods. It will help you keep your strength up.
- Hair loss. Chemotherapy attacks fast-growing cells in the body, which means your hair follicles will likely get caught in the crossfire. Fingernails are also susceptible; they may become brittle for a while. To deal with hair loss, try cutting it short ahead of time or buying a wig after the fact. Wearing sunscreen, a hat or a scarf will protect your scalp until your hair grows back, which usually happens after two or three months.
- Skin damage. Radiation therapy may leave the skin of your chest with uncomfortable damage, similar to a sunburn. Treat it as you would any sun damage: be gentle with the skin, moisturize it and keep it covered until it heals.