Treatments and Side Effects of Cancer - What to Expect


A cancer diagnosis can cause a whirlwind of questions and emotions. Often the specifics of the road ahead are unknown. Many WhatNexters agree that it felt easier once they found out more, got familiar with treatment plans, and found ways to stay positive and cope in their everyday life.

“I took it one thing at a time. I keep thinking each procedure, each treatment, is one more step towards recovery and that keeps me moving forward.” -- Beannie, Breast Cancer, Stage I

What to expect

WhatNexters recommend reading the American Cancer Society’s Guide on Treatments and Side Effects of Cancer to find out about types of treatments, clinical trials, cancer drugs, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), physical side effects, emotional side effects, and information on palliative or supportive care. This guide may give you an overall view of what to expect and help you wrestle with the unknown that is ahead.

Related Article: It's cancer, what next?

WhatNexters have faced their treatment plans and side effects by:

  • Focusing on today
  • Trusting their doctors
  • Starting healthy eating habits
  • Exercising
  • Distracting themselves with hobbies
  • Finding a helpful support system made up of family, friends, and others going through the same thing.
  • Below are just a few examples of the tips WhatNexters have shared on WhatNext.

    Making Life Easier After Surgery

    “I focused on practical preparation for a hospital stay and recovery. I was caught up on any paperwork, bill paying, correspondence, housework, projects, etc. so I didn’t have those to deal with as soon as I got home from the hospital. Decide what to take with you to the hospital and what preparations you need to have when you get home.” -- nancyjac thumbnail nancyjac, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Stage IIIB

    Taking Care of Yourself After Chemotherapy

    “I took especially good care of my body during the chemotherapy period...I also talk to my doctor if they (side effects) kept getting worse.” -- attypatty thumbnail attypatty, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage IIA

    Considering Clinical Trials

    “I read up a bit on the types of trials, then inquired as to which type of trials I was being presented with. Every drug that we have ever received has gone through the trial process. In a trial, I (personally) feel we have the advantage of receiving cutting edge treatment.” -- po18guy, Lymphoma, Stage IV

    Related Page: Clinical Trial Experiences

    Being Positive in the Face of Life Changes

    “After diagnosis and getting over the shock, I decided to be happy, not worry about things, enjoy each day, be thankful for life, and spread as much cheer as I can. They say laughter is the best medicine and I believe it. I find humor in the smallest things and truly enjoy myself. If you are already beaten in your mind, you can't beat the cancer in your body. I guess I am saying go for it, let the cancer know you are ready to fight, enjoy life, and be happy.” -- GENMAR47, Prostate Cancer, Stage II

    Related Page: My Mind/Sense of Humor Experiences

    Related Question: What kind of cancer jokes have you used with your medical team?

    Staying Emotionally Strong

    “Emotional health is so important. I made sure I had someone to talk with.I wasn’t afraid of all the emotions...from fear and sadness to laughter and joy and everything in between. To have the strength to move through the journey, my mind had to be strong too.” -- carolLHRN thumbnail CarolLHRN, Colorectal Cancer

    “I maintained a positive attitude and got all the support I could. Regarding support, I went to a support group of people with the same type of cancer as the shared experiences can be both emotionally beneficial and informative.” -- Afterglow, Prostate Cancer, Stage II

    WhatNexters emphasize that no one is alone. WhatNexters can help provide personal insight about those feelings of shock, confusion, fear, and anxiety may come with the initial diagnosis, treatment, and side effects. WhatNexters also suggest using the American Cancer Society’s website to get more information about treatment and dealing with specific side effects. What helped you get through treatment and the side effects of cancer?

    Related Guides - See all Guides

    Newly Diagnosed 3 Talking to family 3 Talking to children 2

    It's Cancer, What Next?

    Telling Family and Friends

    Telling Your Children

    • 16 Comments
      • Oaks' Avatar
        Oaks

        My husband had stage III esophageal cancer 7 years ago with chemo, surgery and chemo again. It was a very long, difficult journey for him and for me as a care giver even being an RN. We have an autistic son who was ten years old at the time who was a trooper throughout the entire process. He was involved in the caring process...shaved his head bald on his own, and helped his dad in whatever way he could. The worse was trying to keep nourishment in. He should have had TPN going in a piggy back line in his porta cath or a PICC line. Half his stomach, half his esophagus, a rib, and a great deal of tissue and nodes were removed in the surgery, but all the cancer was removed. He is cancer free for all these years now. And being a new cancer diagnosed patient myself, am fully aware of the possibilites first hand. i will even have the same oncologist my husband had. Also, both our fathers died of cancer; so this evil is no stranger to our lives.

        10 months ago
      • Sadielyn's Avatar
        Sadielyn

        I am new to all of this...I know my diagnosis was given to me last week on Friday over the phone after my biopsy results came back..I have invasive ductal carcinoma...I also was told it's in my axillary lymph node..thats where I am at right now.I have an appt with my surgeon tomorrow and he referred me over to oncology and i.have an appt with them next friday..like so many have said ... apprehensive about the unknown...just wondering if someone can give me some input to questions please should ask? Will they have do tests to see if the cancer has spread even further than the lymph node before chemo..or will they do surgery first to remove the tumor and lymph node ..I am 62 yrs old and have been blessed with 6 grown children and numerous grandkids...my kiddos will be my major support system through this journey..and will continue to find other support systems..

        6 months ago
      • Sher19's Avatar
        Sher19

        Hi everyone,
        I am newly diagnosed with breast cancer stage IV. It has metastasized and all this happens within 10 months of clear mammogram... I am in shock still as my Drs are. How can this be?? How do I get this out of my head? It has consumed me and I need it to stop.... I need to know I will survive this. I had cancer almost 15 years ago and just needed lumpectomy and radiation. Now this.... I need to stop letting it get to me so I can move onward and fight... Any suggestions please??
        Thank you...

        about 1 month ago