• CancerPal

How can I support a loved one through chemotherapy treatment?


When a loved one is going through chemotherapy there are a range of helpful, practical products that can ease the side effects. There is also a wide range of useful information available to help manage the effects of chemotherapy treatment.


We have conducted extensive product research and developed a number of chemotherapy care boxes help to ease these symptoms. All of these products have been recommended by those who have experienced chemotherapy treatment.


When and why is chemotherapy used?

The NHS website states that Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment where medicine is used to kill cancer cells. There are many different types of chemotherapy medicine, but they all work in a similar way. They stop cancer cells reproducing, which prevents them from growing and spreading in the body.


Chemotherapy may be used if cancer has spread or there's a risk it will.

It can be used to:

  • try to cure the cancer completely (curative chemotherapy)

  • make other treatments more effective – for example, it can be combined with radiotherapy (chemoradiation) or used before surgery (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy)

  • reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after radiotherapy or surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy)

  • relieve symptoms if a cure is not possible (palliative chemotherapy)

The effectiveness of chemotherapy varies significantly. Ask your doctors about the chances of treatment being successful for you.


Types of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can be given in several ways. Your doctors will recommend the best type for you.

The most common types are:

  • Intravenous chemotherapy chemotherapy given into a vein – this is usually done in hospital and involves medicine being given through a tube in a vein in your hand, arm or chest

  • Oral chemotherapy chemotherapy tablets – this usually involves taking a course of medicine at home, with regular check-ups in hospital

You may be treated with one type of chemotherapy medicine or a combination of different types.

You'll usually have several treatment sessions, which will typically be spread over the course of a few months.


Side effects of chemotherapy

As well as killing cancer cells, chemotherapy can damage some healthy cells in your body, such as blood cells, skin cells and cells in the stomach.


This can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, such as:

  • Hair loss

  • An increased risk of getting infections

  • Dry, sore or itchy skin

  • Nausea/feeling and being sick

  • Upset stomach

  • Feeling tired/fatigued most of the time


What useful tasks can I complete to help my loved one during their chemotherapy treatment?

Helping a loved one going through chemotherapy can involve helping them to make treatment decisions, making medical appointments, driving to treatments, preparing meals, doing laundry and other chores, providing companionship, comfort, and support, and many other tasks. Knowing about the side effects of chemotherapy treatment can also empower a carer, friend or family member to know how they can help their loved one to ease some of the side effects.


What can be done to ease the side effects of chemotherapy?

Although nothing can completely remove the side effects of chemotherapy, there are many products available that can be used to ease the side effects. Many of these side effects pass after treatment stops but there are a number of products that can be used to help.



Chemotherapy Hair Loss and regrowth

It’s important to treat hair gently when going through chemotherapy treatment as the head and scalp can become very delicate. There are a selection of products available which can help to gently care for and strengthen hair before, during and after treatment. Hair loss is one of the most visible side effects of chemotherapy treatment and can have a big impact on the individual.


Wooden combs are gentler on the hair and scalp

Wooden Wide Tooth Comb

A wooden wide tooth comb is far gentler for hair and scalp. Wooden hairbrushes and combs don’t conduct electricity, so you don't get the static cling that comes with plastic combs and which can be particularly damaging to hair. The larger teeth and gaps help remove knots without pulling or snagging hair. A wide-tooth comb also causes less friction compared to a normal fine tooth comb meaning the wide tooth comb is gentler on the hair and can help to prevent breakage.

Using a regular comb can cause hair damage and split ends but the large gaps between the teeth of a wide tooth

comb reduce the chance of pulling and breaking your hair, thus reducing split ends.

A wide tooth comb is also gentler on the scalp because the nibs of the teeth have a larger surface area, so less friction is applied to the scalp as you comb, leaving your scalp feeling massaged and soothed rather than scratched. Wooden combs can also aid in the conditioning of your hair. Sebum oils need to travel from your scalp to the ends of your hair and wooden combs naturally help to bring oils from the scalp all the way to the tips of your hair.


Beanie hats are comfortable and practical

Beanie Hats

Beanie hats are a great, breathable, temperature controlling, this chemotherapy hat will be appreciated all year round due to the lightweight, breathable nature of the cotton material. Perfect in warmer weather and indoors or layered up outside in colder months. Much more comfortable than wearing a wig and won't slip around like a scarf. It also makes a great sleep cap to keep you at just the right temperature for a good nights sleep and easy to put on (especially appreciated for the elderly or following breast surgery for example - no lifting of arms and trying to tie scarves in place).

Wear on its own or as a base layer (under scarves, helmets or wooly hats) to co-ordinate with an outfit.




Satin and Silk Pillowcases

Satin is kinder to fragile hair and skin than cotton

Silk and satin pillowcases are known for being kind to both hair and skin and satin can be a more cost effective option than silk. The smooth surface of satin creates less friction for fragile hair strands and can prevent breakage. Satin also provides essential cooling properties when suffering from night sweats which can be another side effect of chemotherapy treatment.






Cooling Gel Pillow

Hot flushes and night sweats are more common in women, but they can also occur in men. Rapid relief and support for neck pain, migraines and tension headaches and helps to regulate temperature during fevers and night sweats that could be caused due to chemotherapy treatment. This cooling gel pillow absorbs and transfers heat away from the body to help you get a good night’s sleep. Use directly or insert the cooling gel pad into your pillowcase with no refrigeration required to maintain an optimal temperature for quality sleep.




Thymuskin Forte

The Thymuskin Forte line is used for strong hair loss and for the activation of new hair. It is particularly suitable for regenerative care of hair loss due to chemotherapy. Thymuskin is a dermatological hair product that has been clinically proven* to help with the activation of new hair growth for both men and women. It is highly effective, offers very good tolerability for various types of hair loss and does not have any side effects.

The Thymuskin system consists of the combined application of Thymuskin Shampoo and Thymuskin Scalp Serum. By using the shampoo first, it prepares the scalp for treatment with the Thymuskin serum. Thymuskin was developed in Germany over 25 years by 9 physicians whose main focus was patients suffering from hair loss as a result of chemotherapy. The Thymuskin active ingredient complex is an integrated reproduction of the natural thymus extract - a peptide structure modelled on nature. Peptides are building blocks of the life of the skin and hair. Each of these thymus peptides has a specific task. The function of such so-called signal peptides can be simplified like the operation of a light switch. In this way, cell processes can be triggered or prevented.

Thus, numerous Thymuskin peptides evolve into a positive, synergistic and nature-like effect. The biological effectiveness of Thymuskin is particularly evident in the activation of hair the cells (keratinocytes), which decisively influence the physiological growth of the hair. The hair formation is stimulated and the growth phase extended. Various enzymes that play a crucial role in the development of hair loss are inhibited. This stimulates hair growth in a sustainable way.




Preventing Infection

Hand gel

Use of antibacterial hand gels can help to prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce infection. This hand gel with antimicrobial content is suitable for cleaning and protecting hands. Some hand sanitisers can play havoc with our hands from the drying effect of the alcohol, but we have chosen this hand gel because it contains ‘squalane’ derived from a plant source. Squalane is particularly beneficial for soothing dry skin from chemotherapy treatment and inflamed skin conditions such as eczema and is natural, safe, and effective for all skin types.

EU registered cosmetic, dermatologically tested. Contains 62% alcohol which guarantees high antimicrobial effectiveness.

Polybalm is an effective way to minimise nail damage

Nailcare

During treatment for cancer, there may be changes in the appearance of finger or toenails. Whilst nail issues are not usually a serious side effect of chemotherapy, they can nevertheless be annoying and painful. Nail damage, such as hang nails, torn cuticles or lost nails can allow bacteria in, which could lead to infection, which can be serious when your loved one’s immune system is compromised from chemotherapy. See our chemotherapy nail guide for further details. There are things that can be done to help. Polybalm is a natural nail remedy and it's the only nail product we've found that has been clinically proven to reduce chemotherapy related nail damage. Polybalm moisturises the skin and prevents drying, splitting and cracking of the nail during chemotherapy treatment.




Dry, sore or itchy skin

Lindi Soothing balm

Designed for dry hands and feet or extremely dry skin. The Soothing Balm is a rich, emollient, non-greasy lotion intended for extremely dry or compromised skin. Thanks to astaxanthin, avocado, olive oil and shea butter in its formula, this Skin Balm protects and moisturizes dry, cracked, and flaking skin. This Soothing Balm hydrates and helps manage dry, cracked and painful hands that can occur after chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical-grade ingredients and rare botanicals make this the perfect gentle lotion to tackle the driest skin.


Udderly Smooth

Udderly smooth is one of our most popular products. Udderly Smooth Extra Care Moisturising Cream has been developed in response to the requests of cancer patients and medical professionals. Extra Care Cream is fragrance free and contains 10% urea to moisturise extremely dry, stressed skin.




Nausea/feeling and being sick

Nausea is an incredibly unpleasant side effect of chemotherapy therapy treatment. If you or your loved one are suffering from nausea, there are various things that can be done to manage nausea.

These include;

- Nutrition

- Acupressure

- Mint

- Ginger

- Breathing techniques

- Citrus flavours and scents


Nutrition - Kee-Moh Snacks

Kee-moh Snacks comes from real life experience, Alyx has been through breast cancer herself and suffered so terribly from treatment side effects including nausea that she lost 10kg. Alyx's experience is not unusual - chronic malnutrition is one of the hidden side effects of cancer treatment with up to 80% of cancer patients suffering from some form of malnutrition during their treatment. Alyx believes that treatment side-effects needn't take away the enjoyment of your favourite foods and she has become the queen of adapting and modifying food to suit treatment side-effects.


Kee-moh Snacks provides recipes and foods to eat for lots of different cancer related side-effects, from taste changes through to a sore mouth, but in this video


Alyx focusses specifically on the types of food to try if you're suffering from nausea as well as some hints

and tips for eating with nausea.

Alyx has written several cook books

(also available as e-books), sharing how to modify and adapt the consistency of food so it agrees with treatment side-effects.


Acupressure

Many patients use Anti-nausea wrist bands to relieve cancer treatment related nausea and vomiting. The elasticated bands operate by applying pressure on the P6 acupressure point on each wrist by means of a plastic stud. Anti-nausea wrist bands can be applied as a preventative measure before the onset of nausea, such as before surgery to reduce the risk of nausea and vomiting associated with anaesthesia or before chemotherapy treatment. They may also be applied after the onset of nausea. Nausea is typically reduced within 5 minutes after the wrist bands are applied. The wrist bands must fit snugly around the wrist to work. One band must be worn on each wrist for them to be effective. There are no contraindications to their use and they can be used in combination with any other drugs.


Mint

Another very popular product that features in many of our care boxes are Vermints. There is a range of different types of mint and we stock them all. The name 'Vermint' comes from the Latin word 'Ver'. It means 'true. VerMints are True Mints. They are honest. They are clean. Vermints ditched all the unpleasant, health-harming, chemically-modified ingredients that you usually find in mints and made super tasty mints from nature and nature only.



Ginger - Gin Gins Ginger Chews

For 30 years, The Ginger People have dedicated themselves to promoting the virtues of ginger. They take great pride in sourcing from the premier growing regions of the world and crafting the most innovative ginger products. Family owned and operated, The Ginger People and Gin Gins is the world’s most award-winning ginger brand and America’s leading supplier of all natural and organic ginger ingredients.




Breathing Techniques - 21 Breaths

Breathing techniques offer a means of looking after ourselves naturally and can be used for managing a wide range of conditions including, helping to ease pain, nausea or helping us to relax and aid sleep. Oliver James is a body led psychotherapist who specialises in breathwork and breathing techniques. In his first book 21 Breaths, Oliver supports others to experience for themselves the self-empowering, restorative capabilities held in their breath. This book is ideal for anyone looking for natural methods to help ease the side effects of chemotherapy nausea.



Queasy Drops and Queasy Drops Plus are very popular

Citrus Flavours - Queasy Drops Plus

Queasy Drops Plus have been recommended to us by many cancer patients to help ease the nausea associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. Queasy Drops Plus can also help with general queasiness, bad taste in the mouth and dry mouth and provide a small energy boost. Developed by health care professionals, Queasy Drops Plus contain powerful essential oils, they are safe and natural, drug free, and 100% safe for children and adults.



Citrus Flavours - Staying Hydrated with a fruit infuser water bottle

It's so important to stay hydrated during chemotherapy treatment and a great way to use a Chemotherapy water bottle. These fruit diffuser bottles have a section in which you can place fresh fruit to give the water a gentle fruity taste which can help when experiencing 'chemo mouth' - that nasty metallic taste. The diffuser is removable to make cleaning super easy and means the bottle can also be used without the fruit attachment.


Citrus Scents - QueaseEase Inhaler

QueaseEase nausea relief blend is a combination of four powerful essential oils to manage feelings of nausea and queasiness. It is made with pure essential oils, is non-prescription and starts to work immediately. It's natural, non-habit forming and non-drowsy and can last up to six months.




Loss of appetite/Upset Stomach

Mint Tea

Mint tea can help with a variety of conditions associated with an upset stomach and digestive problems. It helps with settling the stomach, can help relieve tension headaches, freshen breath and help with sleep. To make a cup of fresh mint tea, simply boil fresh mint leaves in a pot of water. The leaves can be crushed to release more flavour. Alternatively, if you don't have any fresh mint to hand, most of the popular tea brands offer a 'mint' variety. A box of mint tea would make a good addition to a chemotherapy care box.


We would always advise that patients check with their medical team prior to taking any form of dietary supplement and be especially cautious about combining peppermint oil with certain drugs because it may inhibit the body's ability to metabolise the drugs and increase the risk of side effects.




Feeling tired/fatigued

Gel Eye mask

A gel eye mask is ideal for relieving tired, strained eyes whether from sleepless nights or the general stresses and strains that a cancer diagnosis brings. Known for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, lavender is mixed with mandarin and geranium to reduce puffiness and tension around the eye area. Try applying throughout the day whenever you could do with a moment of peace, or at night time to benefit from the full spectrum of its soothing qualities.


Soy Wax Candle

When suffering from fatigue brought on by chemotherapy treatment a candle is the perfect way to take some time to rest and relax. CancerPal has a range of natural, hand poured soya wax candles for this very reason.


Soothing Body Wrap

This microwaveable Soothing Body Wrap offers comforting and convenient hot or cold therapy to help relieve some of the discomfort from aching muscles and joint pain that chemotherapy treatment can cause.



 

We hope you find the above suggestions helpful. We also stock a range of chemotherapy gift boxes containing many of the products mentioned above, take a look at the Chemotherapy Care Box section of the CancerPal website.

 

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