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    2X Cancer Survivor, College Graduate, Before Age 26

    Sara Bedard is a 26-year-old young Lady, a 2X cancer survivor, and a college graduate. The inspiring part about this is that she didn't know if she could survive cancer, much less be able to graduate College while in treatment. She is our WhatNexter of the Week, and this is her story. 

    Just a few years ago cancer was something I never expected would play a huge part in my life and boy was I wrong. In 2015 my mother passed away from Ovarian cancer. At the time, I was working a part-time job (which I loved but always wanted more). I always thought I would work in retail and never even imagined anything bigger for myself.
    That’s when in May of the same year I decided to get a pap smear. I had been bleeding for a little over a year, it wasn’t heavy bleeding and not enough to cause any alarm. I thought it was just a normal girl thing and that nothing could happen to me at 24. It got to the point that I was heavy bleeding in between periods and it was very excessive. I was ruining bed sheets and clothes and it was just a disaster that’s when I made the phone call to get it checked out. 
    I had my first appointment and then they scheduled me for a few biopsies. I was then recommended to an oncologist without being told what was going on. I had a LEEP surgery and then another one just to see what it was. Turns out I had a tumor growing on the outside of my cervix and it had been growing for the entire year and a half I had dealt with the bleeding. 
    I got the phone call telling me that I had been diagnosed with stage 1b1 cervical cancer. I was absolutely terrified; my mother had passed just five months before and cancer just wasn’t something I even dreamed could happen to me. I had a radical hysterectomy and they took everything. I was out of work for a whole month and at the same time, my partner and I were going through some rough patches in our relationship. Cancer just seemed to get in the middle and completely take over my life. 
    After I recovered from my surgery I went back to work, I was happy and content. Not to get too inappropriate but a few months after my surgery I was looking forward to being intimate with my partner again and I started to bleed and A LOT of blood came out. I went to the Dr the next day and my tumor had grown back in just three short months and was bigger than before. There was a lot of crying and I decided to go through chemo and radiation. I went through 7 cisplatin chemo treatments and did 35 external radiation with 2 internal radiation treatments. (my first chemo treatment, I had my port put in that same morning.)
    Chemo was hard the first time, it lasted five hours and I felt instantly sick every single time. My work was very accommodating. I still wanted to work because cancer is expensive, no one can afford cancer and it costs more than people think it does. When I went through my cancer I felt alone, most of my best friends stopped talking to me and I don’t think very many people realized how hard it would be. My family wasn’t sure what to do and neither did I. It was tough but I thought this was my chance to get my life back in order and was pronounced cancer free. 
    I realized after that that I needed something more out of my life and applied for college. I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going and who doesn’t want a career? I got approved and started school to become a pharmacy technician. I chose pharmacy because I wanted to help people going through hardships like most cancer patients have gone through, but I also didn’t want to draw blood or poke anyone.

    After all my treatments, I started having bowel issues and my stomach hurt so much that I sat with a heating pad on my stomach every single day for hours even during the summer. I couldn’t actually go to the restroom without taking a scary amount of laxatives. My oncologist didn’t think anything was wrong when I brought it up and assumed it was just left over troubles from my radiation so I decided to schedule an appointment with a gastrologist. You know that feeling you get when you know somethings wrong but no one else seems to realize it? That’s exactly what happened to me. 
    The pain in my stomach lasted for almost 5 months before I had a colonoscopy which came up empty. The one good thing that came from having that procedure is that my oncologist decided to schedule me for a PET scan to see if maybe something WAS going on. I got the call and immediately got scheduled for surgery and here we go again, chemo was sure to put a damper into my schooling. 
    This time around felt different for me, this was my lowest I have ever been. I felt that cancer was actually going to kill me this time. That it’s gone too far and there is no hope left. I pictured myself just ending it and getting it over with on my terms. I felt this way for a long time during my treatments. I still kept going to school and kept my grades up but inside I felt defeated. My chemo treatments were 9 hours long and wreaked havoc on my body, I was on cisplatin, taxol, and avastin. I had to quit my job and just do school. That’s when it happened, right after my second treatment things got worse for me.

    A woman’s hair is her life, at least that’s how it was for me. My hair is my best feature and now it was gone. Not only was cancer changing what I looked like but it was also changing me as a person. My side effects were insane. I had a horrible reaction to the taxol my second treatment. I had no idea that it was even a possibility but it felt like I had stopped breathing, I was reaching for my throat and it’s like I forgot how. It was one of the scariest moments in my life and I am pretty sure I cried the whole night. After that happened I was scared it would happen again which made my chemo experiences much worse after that. I was gaining weight and had no hair. I was nauseated most of the time and I slept for two to three straight days after my treatments. I also wouldn’t eat for almost a whole week after treatments, I thought I would lose all the weight I gained but I never did. 
    I spent more nights than I would like to admit crying myself to sleep and thinking about how unfair it is to be diagnosed with cancer. My parents would always tell me, “Today you can be sad and angry, even scream but tomorrow is a new day and it will be a better day.” I think that sentence alone kept me afloat. I started to realize that even though I have low points, life is good. Life is so short and honestly, I am still scared of dying but it doesn’t stop me. I always kept looking towards the future and that’s exactly why I kept going to school. Cancer doesn’t last forever but a good education does.
    Fast forward a few months and I was scheduled to do my internship and I still had one chemo treatment left. To graduate on time I needed to go and it was 40+ hours a week and tough! Working and doing chemo was extremely difficult so for the next 5 weeks I worked hard and went every day. I knew that I could do it though, I wanted this more than anything. Some people told me to just give up and just retake the classes and do your internship when you’re done with chemo. I knew that If I had waited I would have given up a huge opportunity. 

    Even while going through chemo and cancer, tiredness and nausea, I did it. I went to school, studied, worked hard and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. The best part of all of this is I didn’t give up. I didn’t give into cancer and that’s the best thing I could ever do in my life. Since I didn’t give up I am now employed at the same place I did my internship at. 
    My struggle led me to a wonderful new life and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. (Other than a full head of hair). Now I go to Avastin appointments once a month to keep my cancer away and I get scans every three months. My hair is slowly growing back and my future looks bright. 
    Whatnext has been such a great resource for me as well, I found this website right after I was first diagnosed and was able to ask questions and get answers from a patient/survivor’s point of view. I have so much respect for all of the wonderful people I have met through this website, they are caring, blunt, honest and understanding. When I felt my absolute lowest or just had to ask what a strange side effect was all about I knew I could always ask this community and get an honest answer.
     
    Never let yourself or anyone else tell you that you can’t reach your goals. Cancer may be that mosquito always sucking the life out of you and is annoying but you can always swat it away and keep going forward. This terrible disease has made me a better person, not that I am glad it attacked me but I am glad that I learned to love deeper, listen more carefully, understand more fully and to spend more time with my loved ones. Cancer has taught me that Life is a beautiful thing, take chances and do things you’ve always been too scared but wanted to do. Who knows you might end up like me, happy and thriving!
    Below is a video of Sara giving a speach to her graduating class. Great job Sara!

    You can drop by SaraSmash's page at WhatNext here. Drop by and give her big congratulations for her courage and inspiration. 
    Do you have an inspirational story to share? Drop us an email and let us help you tell it and inspire thousands of people. 

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    What's the Senate Doing With Healthcare?

    Since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act on May 4, Senate Republicans have been working on their version of a bill to revise Obamacare; the Democrats are shut out from this process. (For our previous analysis of the CBO score of the House bill, see here)

    While the recent turmoil surrounding former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony captured almost all of Washington’s attention, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a Senate rule to allow the healthcare legislation to move directly to the full Senate floor without any committee hearings and without publishing the text of the legislation. This is unusual and unprecedented for a legislation of this magnitude.
    We are hearing rumors that Republican Senators are in favor of keeping guaranteed protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, which is welcoming news for patients with chronic illnesses. This is a major departure from the House version. Republican Senators are discussing between a three or seven-year roll-back of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid because a number of these senators represent the 32 states that expanded Medicaid and are worried about the backlash that this reduction could cause. Responding to constituent and stakeholder backlash, the Senate is also expected to increase the House-passed Obamacare repeal bill’s tax credits for people purchasing individual insurance coverage—especially for those between the ages of 50 and 64. Fundamentally, the current legislative discussions in the Senate are about how much of Obamacare to keep and for how long.
    The Senate is aiming for a make-or-break vote before July 4th; however, deep uncertainty remains about whether the emerging legislation would command enough support to pass. Democrats are united and unanimously opposed to this attempt to reform Obamacare, so all votes must come from Republicans. Senate leadership is working within the parameters of the Budget Reconciliation instruction; therefore, it only needs 50 votes—thus Senate Republicans can lose only two votes and before they are unable to pass a healthcare reform bill.
    Meanwhile, senators have also spent time discussing a fallback plan that would involve a stopgap measure to stabilise insurance markets. Pressure is mounting from health insurers in the Obamacare marketplaces who are up against a June 21 deadline to decide whether they will participate for 2018. Several insurers have already signalled plans to exit these marketplaces because of the uncertainty, leaving counties across the nation with potentially no options on the Obamacare exchanges.
    Do you have concerns over the projected changes in the Healthcare Bill? Let's hear your comments below. 

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    The Hidden Side Effects of Radiation

    Radiation is a standard part of treatment for a large group of cancer types. Sometimes combined with chemotherapy, sometimes used on its own, and even sometimes with a mixture of other traditional treatments, surgery, and drugs. There are several hidden side effects that you may or may not be told to expect. Some of them show up quickly, but many wait years to show up. Some can be life threatening. 

    You will find many people that say radiation was much easier to take than chemotherapy was, I am in that group also. 29 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma for which I was prescribed chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments. 28 to be exact. Followed 18 years later by 25 more in the same area for a third diagnosis for head and neck cancer. These are the side effects I have endured. 
    After having gone through the 6 months of chemo treatments, I found the radiation treatments to be non-eventful. The initial set up was a little time consuming, but after that, the daily treatment was only 15 minutes or so total. That includes walking into the room, taking off my shirt, and laying on the table to get lined up with the radiation marks, then receiving the treatment, putting a shirt back on and walking back down the hall. After I done this for a few weeks I got into a routine where I would be taking my shirt off while walking in, I wouldn't wait for them to tell me to get on the table, I knew the routine, so I just jumped up there and laid down and waited. 
    Compared to a routine chemo treatment these days, there is no comparison as to which is faster, of course, they are different animals too. Chemotherapy can last as long as 8 hours or more for a treatment. 
    Radiation side effects come in two types, those that show up fairly quickly, say 2 weeks after radiation starts and continue to show up through the rest of the treatment schedule, and delayed side effects that are hidden. In other words, they are not what anyone might expect, sometimes we are not told about the possibility of these even showing up. Some of these side effects can be prevented or at least minimized during the treatment process if the treatment facility plans for them. Not all facilities do. 
    Initial side effects that will show up quickly are going to depend on where you are getting the treatments. My radiation was given in the throat/neck/jaw/chest area during the first round of radiation that I received 29 years ago, I later went through another regimen of radiation 18 years later, in a more precise area of the neck/jaw. The initial side effects that started showing up were a dry mouth due to loss of saliva gland activity, initially. A sore throat followed that, along with the inability to swallow without great pain. Eating was becoming more and more painful and resulted in a loss of about 45 pounds. 
    You learn to eat things based on the "burn factor" and the "slide factor". How much if any will it burn my throat as it goes down, and how easily will it slide down my throat. Swallowing, one of the most basic, almost involuntary acts we do hundreds of times a day becomes very painful and difficult. Some people are encouraged to have a feeding tube put in before the treatment ever starts, as the Radiation Oncologists often know based on the type of cancer and location and strength combined with a number of treatments given may cause swallowing problems. 
    Fatigue is another expected side effect from radiation, and most of us have it after a couple of weeks. It felt to me like I just had to go take a nap each afternoon. Going to sleep at night was not a problem either.
    A severe "sunburn" or radiation dermatitis is usually the next immediate side effect that will show up. It can often be controlled with special creams that can be obtained from your Radiation Oncologist. 

    Nausea and extreme pain in the throat were my most severe side effects that were immediate. These side effects while very tough to deal with were temporary. The hidden side effects are those that sometimes come quickly and never go away, or don't show up for years. Here are some that I have experienced.
    Hidden Side Effects From Radiation
    Loss of Saliva Gland Function - The first hidden side effect that I didn't expect was a total loss of saliva gland function causing dry mouth, which in turn caused total loss of teeth. We don't realize how much saliva (moisture) the body produces each day until you don't have it. Sort of like not missing the electricity until a storm blows it out. 
    Rapid Tooth Decay or Loss - Radiation that is directed to the neck/jaw area will either reduce saliva gland function, which returns later or it will completely kill them off and you will have no moisture in your mouth. This moisture keeps your mouth clean, keeps your teeth bathed in moisture and enzymes that help clean. Without it, your teeth immediately will start to decline. In my case cavities started to show up, followed by fillings falling out that had previously been put in. I have talked to many head and neck cancer patients that were not warned that their teeth could be lost completely. In my case, I was simply told to get all of my teeth checked, and any problems fixed before the treatments started, they do not want to risk you having a dental procedure during treatment as it's a risk of infection during your compromised immune system. 
    Some two years after radiation was completed and I had recovered from most of the side effects, my tooth loss became so bad that I consulted an Oral Surgeon for advice on removing all teeth. It had gotten to the point that my teeth were not worth saving as any work done to them would most likely just be lost in the near future. The teeth just were wearing down, decaying and causing severe pain. 
    At first, the Oral Surgeon didn't want to pull any teeth for a fear of my developing Osteoradionecrosis, a condition where the jaw bones will not heal due to the radiation treatment damaging the tissue which decreases the healing ability. 
    See a previous article on Osteoradionecrosis


    One of the usual treatments to offset the possibility of osteoradionecrosis is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment. This is a procedure where the patient is placed inside a plastic tube, and pure oxygen is put into the tube under some pressure. This oxygen is absorbed into the body and encourages healing and more rapid cell growth. A friend of mine even grew hair back on his head after he was previously bald even before treatments. 
    One drawback to the treatments is that some insurance plans won't cover it, and their cost can be as much as $2,000.00 per treatment. It was suggested that I have 30 of them. And no, my insurance wasn't going to cover any of it, so that was out!

    In the end, the Oral Surgeon agreed that our only option was surgical removal of all teeth, but on a slow program. He removed two and waited for them to heal before any more were taken out. Two more, and wait to see how the healing went, and so on. After all of the teeth were removed, I did heal just fine and eventually had dentures put in. The cost of having all teeth removed, in the $8,000.00 range, along with $3,000.00 for a pair of implant posts to hold the lower plate in place. As you can see, this was a very expensive "hidden side effect" that I didn't expect.
    Carotid Artery Damage -  In my case, my interior carotid artery on the right side of my neck was occluded. Basically fried from the radiation. The possibility of this happening was never mentioned, perhaps it was buried in the book of paperwork and releases that I signed prior to treatment, but I certainly didn't expect this. If not for the having stroke like symptoms one day,(called a TIA), which led me to go to the ER, I wouldn't have known. I had 80% blockage in my carotid artery and I was lucky to have not had a full blown stroke. I spent a few nights in the hospital followed by a procedure to insert a stent in my carotid artery to improve blood flow. 
    Heart Damage - Heart damage and artery damage around the heart and chest area is possible for those patients that are receiving radiation to the chest area in a broad pattern. Many of the new radiation procedures use precisely directed radiation beams targeted to the tumor area, in many cases the radiation beams do not hit any other areas other than the tumor. But, the risk is there, I have a friend that suffered a heart attack years after having had radiation to the chest/abdomen area. 
    Swallowing/Choking Issues - In my case, the radiation was directed at my throat, from both sides. This radiation combined with scar tissue from a surgery to remove my right tonsil have combined to cause severe difficulty in swallowing. On several occasions, I have choked on food or while trying to take a prescription drug. I was able to get it expelled and breath, but it was a very scary event. Now, I eat everything based on how easy it will slide down. I also have a condition where liquids tend to partly go down the wrong way and cause me to choke and cough for several minutes until it is all expelled. These conditions were not explained or expected and I had to learn to deal with them, there is no cure for the narrow, scarred throat area that causes this choking. 
    Whenever my Wife and I go out to eat with some people that don't know my history, I jokingly tell them that I will apologize in advance for any strange noises you hear coming from me during supper, and also disregard any food that might come out of my nose. Yep, it happens. Food will find it's way in that "in between" area in the throat where your nasal passages meet the throat, a little tickle happens and boom...chicken comes flying out of my nose. It's embarrassing if this happens in a crowded place, but thankfully that hasn't happened much while eating out. 
    The strange noises are just what those of us with throat problems learn to do in order to swallow. Grunting, twisting and contorting my neck in different directions helps any food go down. 
    Loss of Voice - Through the last year or two, I have experienced increasing periods of a rough/hoarse voice. When I wake up in the morning I really don't know if I'm going to be able to talk today or not. A good amount of hot coffee helps to get it started, and then whether or not the voice is going to work today depends on the weather, how much allergy reaction I have going on, how much coughing I have done over the last day or so, and how much mucous I have in my throat. 
    It's a compounding problem, allergies cause me to have a sniffling/running nose, which causes a lot of coughing, which in turn causes a sore throat, which ultimately causes a ragged voice the next day. Compound that with scar tissue from two surgeries in the throat where they cut out my malignant tonsil, then cut a 3" hole in the through my throat to get clean margins. That was patched with some sort of space age bio-plastic patch. Follow that up with radiation treatments hitting both sides of my neck and presto, you have no voice as you remember it.
    The Doctors tell me that it may be fine....just drink lots of water, that's what they tell the singing stars when they have a sore throat and can't sing. I think I've reached another level or two above a "sore throat". In reality, I think I am on a downhill path to eventually not having much of a voice at all. Again, this possibility was never mentioned and I don't get much reaction or interest in talking too much about it on my annual check up visits. The good news is...I'm alive! The bad news is, I may not be able to talk in a couple of years. Still, I would do it all over again if faced with the same decision.
    Swallow studies can be done on people that have swallowing issues which sometimes lead to either re-learning to swallow or in some cases a procedure can be done to stretch the throat.
    Here is a list of some other late side effects from radiation:
    Cataracts. Fatigue. Dry mouth. Permanent hair loss. Problems with thyroid or adrenal glands. Infertility. Slowed or halted bone growth in children. Decreased range of motion in the treated area. Skin sensitivity to sun exposure. Problems with memory or ability to learn. Secondary cancers such as skin cancer.

    While not every patient will have these side effects, they are all possible, it's a good idea to ask detailed questions about not only the immediate side effects that you may experience but also the possibility of long-term or hidden side effects of radiation for your type of cancer. This post covers the experiences of a head and neck/ Hodgkin's lymphoma patient. Other types of cancer will have some similar experiences and some that don't even come close. I will say that my first experience with radiation 29 years ago wasn't as bad. It was primarily the last round of 25 radiation treatments that done the bulk of my damage. 
    Have you had some unusual or hidden side effects that showed up years after your treatments were over? Please comment about them below and let others know what to look out for. 
    Also, if you have had some "hidden side effects" with radiation for a different type of cancer and would like to share them, drop us an email.

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    What Does The CBO Score Say About Cost Impact on People With Chronic Conditions?

    On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the effects of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed by the House of Representatives on May 4.

    Under this bill, insurance companies would be allowed to pay a smaller proportion of your health care costs. Those who are older or who have chronic or pre-existing conditions would see their premiums rise considerably, while the premiums for younger and/or healthier people are projected to go down. The CBO analysis makes it clear that people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to afford comprehensive individual health insurance, despite the $2000-$4000 tax credit and federal funding of high-risk pools that are currently in this bill.[1] Primarily by cutting Medicaid and income-based subsidies for buying private insurance plans, the CBO estimates that this bill would reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years by $119 billion. However, the analysis forecasts that 14 million people would be dropped from insurance rolls in 2018 alone and 51 million more people (23 million more than under Obamacare—this is the topline number you probably saw in the news) would be uninsured over those ten years if this bill were to become law. A disproportionally large number of older people with lower incomes would lose their insurance. Some Essential Health Benefits are likely to be excluded in some states—those most relevant to individuals with acute or chronic conditions are rehabilitative and habilitative treatment and prescription drug benefits. Of great concern is that the “Affordable Care Act’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered services would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state.”[2] “In response to such changes in minimum requirements, insurers would probably narrow the scope of benefits included in their plans”[3] and could impose additional charges for additional benefits. Additionally, insurance companies would be able to charge older Americans up to 5 times more their younger counterparts (Obamacare limits that difference to 3 times). This measure, combined with the repeal of income-based subsidies, could result in premiums for low-income seniors skyrocketing by 800%. The Senate is expected to draft their own bill to reform and replace Obamacare, and it is not expected to resemble this House version that was passed.
    [1] https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/hr1628aspassed.pdf, pp41.
    [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid., pp25.
    Today's Guest Blog Post is from AskHilbert.com, a site that strives to help patients keep their financial issues in order, by helping to keep the bills paid, insurance filed and claim forms filled out, as well as other services. You can connect with them on their website: AskHilbert.Com

    Related Question at WhatNext

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    Non-Invasive Breast Brachytherapy (NIBB)

    If you're a breast cancer patient, you may have heard of or even had Non-Invasive Breast Brachytherapy, or (NIBB) as a part of your treatment. While it's not as widely used as conventional radiation therapy, it is gaining recognition and being used more often. More than 50 facilities are using this procedure that has been used for over 10 years. 

    Benefits of this type of treatment over traditional radiation therapy include:

    * It provides targeted, measured, therapeutic doses is designed to produce fewer radiation-related side effects.

    * By delivering a measured dose that matches the size, shape, and location of the target site, NIBB is designed to limit toxicity and overexposure to the breast.

    * Because this form of real-time, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is highly focused, it is more likely to affect less of the surrounding healthy tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs, ribs and muscles, by limiting their unintentional exposure to radiation.

    * The targeted dose is designed to help contain the radiation treatment to the lumpectomy site as much as possible.

    * It can be performed in an outpatient setting, and it is a non-invasive procedure

    According to the Accuboost Website, The dose delivered in this process is uniform, homogeneous and is accurately targeted to the breast tissue which, if left untreated, is the most likely sites for cancer recurrence.
    The video below shows how the process works. 

    Not everyone is a candidate for this type of treatment, and often a pre-treatment simulation will be performed to determine a patient's candidacy. Things that are looked for are: the size and shape of the tumor bed, any surgical clips and their proximity to the tumor bed. 
    Possible side effects of intracavitary brachytherapy
    As with external beam radiation, intracavitary brachytherapy can have side effects, including:

    Redness Bruising Breast pain Infection Breakdown of an area of fat tissue in the breast Weakness and fracture of the ribs in rare cases
    For more information on Non-Invasive Breast Brachytherapy check these sites
    The American Cancer Society

    Accuboost

    WhatNext Experiences Page Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy)

    Have you experienced brachytherapy? How was your experience with it? Please share in the comments so others can learn from your experiences. 

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    Managing Nausea From Cancer Treatments-A Complete Guide

    Editor's note: Cancer survivor Ann Ogden Gaffney knows more than most the effect a cancer diagnosis can have on your life. Ann was working as a fashion designer when she was diagnosed with stage II kidney cancer. She had surgery and went on with her life. An unrelated triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis in early 2005 changed everything, as she had to take time off to go through treatment. 

    A lifelong foodie, Ann found that cooking offered comfort and a sense of control during her treatment. She also found that she was able to use her cooking skills to deal with her treatment side effects. After finishing treatment, she founded Cook For Your LIFE, a nonprofit to teach cancer survivors about cooking. Since starting in 2007, Cook For Your Life have directly served nine thousand plus cancer patients through our hands-on cooking classes and served over three million more through the free website Cookforyourlife.org. In this article, Ann shares her top tips and recipes for dealing with one of the most common cancer side effects- nausea.
    Nausea from cancer treatment is one of the most difficult side effects to handle and can be dealt with from a number of different angles. ● If you experience nausea, don’t suffer in silence, speak to your medical team about anti-nausea drugs. There are some good ones you can take pre and post chemo that can really cut the misery, but unless your insurance pays for them they can be expensive. Make sure to take the drugs they give you correctly to get the full benefit. Many drugs will not work if they are taken too close to meal times, so be prepared.
    ● Speaking of being prepared, when you are feeling well, cook and freeze ahead of time the foods you like to eat, or know you can eat when feeling unwell. Or if you can, have someone else prepare and bring your food to you, so that you avoid the smells of cooking. Cooking odors can cause real distress. It’s important to stay nourished so never be afraid to ask caregivers or friends for what you need. They won’t know unless you tell them. Make sure they know what you like and are sensitive to your needs.
     
    ● Remember the BRAT diet. It is often recommended for nausea. BRAT is the acronym for Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, all foods that are known to help nauseous patients. Make sure you have them in the house. If you feel queasy when you wake up, snack on some dry crackers before getting out of bed to settle your stomach.
    ● Consider trying new tastes and avoiding your favorite foods. This may seem counterintuitive, but trying to eat a favorite food when you feel nauseous can turn it into something repellent, a feeling which can stay with you long after treatment is over and spoil your enjoyment of it for the rest of your life. Instead, try new foods. You may develop a taste for them during treatment. You won’t know unless you try!
    ● Forget the idea of three square meals per day. It’s too much when you feel ill. Instead, focus on having 6-8 small nutritious meals or snacks throughout the day. Try to avoid getting too hungry or too full, both of which can make you feel more nauseous. Check out this menu of small bites for small meals that won’t feel overwhelming. And sit upright while you eat and for a period of time after eating. This will take pressure off your stomach and allow your body start to digest.
    ● Eat foods which are cold or at room temperature, such as chilled soup or sandwiches. These will taste and smell much milder than hot food.If this seems like too much, nibble on plain foods like crackers, noodles, yogurt, oatmeal or ice chips.
    ● Try drinking cold liquids, sipped slowly. If you are having taste issues, try adding additional flavors like in this mint tea or lemon and ginger lemonade, which will be refreshing to your taste buds, and keep a supply ready in the fridge. Sip on drinks at mealtimes to help the food go down, but avoid drinking too much. Too much liquid can fill you up and prevent you from eating enough.
    ● This is one time when I recommend using sugar to sweeten food and drinks. Sugar can help with nausea, in fact historically, before it became commonplace as a food, sugar was only used medicinally in Greco-Roman culture, and to treat nausea. The banana and applesauce in the BRAT diet are an example, rice pudding is another.
    ● Try to avoid foods with strong odors, and heavy, fatty, greasy foods. Use different cooking methods such as poaching or baking in parchment paper to reduce smells that may aggravate your nausea. Both of the recipes linked above use fish, but you can also use these cooking methods to make wonderfully juicy chicken, which will provide your body with protein for recovery.
    ● Relax. Easy to say I know. Sometimes just thinking about treatment may make you feel sick to your stomach, referred to as anticipatory nausea. You can decrease this feeling with relaxation techniques - ask your healthcare team about this. Many hospitals and cancer organizations such as Gilda’s Club organize free meditation or gentle yoga programs for cancer patients. Consider joining a support group too. It helps to hear others’ experiences and to share your own. You’ll get great tips and info there too. The group members understand what you’re feeling, and you can speak with an openness that you cannot have with friends and family. It helps.
    ● Don’t forget mouth care - be sure to rinse your mouth often to get rid of nasty tastes.

    We’ve compiled a menu of our favorite nausea-busting recipes for you to try. Everyone is different, so try out a few different things and find out what works for you. Be sure to keep your medical team updated if you are vomiting continuously. It is very easy to become dehydrated, particularly now in the hotter weather. We’d love to know how you find our recipes- please get in touch via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages, or email us at info@cfyl.org. Check the WhatNext Blog Page for more information about nutrition and cancer