As you heal we recommend a self-care plan so you get some relief from the side effects of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and surgery in your journey of survivorship.
Also be aware there are small risks of developing blood clots, stroke, other cancers, weakness to the heart from chemotherapy and radiation.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells and good cells from head to toe which can lessen your body’s ability to fight off infections. To be safe, it is best to:
- Do dental work BEFORE surgeries, chemotherapy or other treatments to avoid bleeding and infections. Ask your dentist about special dental cleansers and saliva substitutes. No hard brushing or flossing of the gums and teeth; be gentle.
- Ask family members or friends to help you with child care, grocery shopping, housework, preparing meals, transportation, pet care, pick up prescriptions and accompanying you on medical appointments. Avoid heavy housework or lifting using arms after surgery.
- Be careful when cooking, cutting, and sewing; avoid burns, cuts, needle pricks to your hands.
- Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes, using cleaning products, or working in the garden.
- Wear a hat, long sleeves, and use sunscreen during hot sunny days to avoid sunburn.
- Be careful with animals; or when outside avoid insect bites, animal bites or scratches.
- Check your mouth and skin every day for developing mouth sores. Sugar-free gum or hard candies may help prevent dry mouth. Avoid crunchy, hot, or spicy foods if mouth blisters or sores develop.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and soft foods you can tolerate.
- Ask for medication for pain.
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and flush your system. Chemotherapy drugs can build up in your body and harm your kidneys.
- Rest as much as possible, surgery and treatments take lots of energy.
- Tell your doctor about other health issues you have such as eczema, diabetes and high blood pressure that may complicate or counteract with your medicines and treatment.
- Frequently wash your hands with a mild, non-fragrant, antiseptic soap and rinse thoroughly. Use moisturizing lotions such as pure Aloe Vera or Shea Butter.
- Gentle massage and lymph edema treatments may help with fluid buildup in arms, hands, surgery areas and torso.
- Avoid large crowds and people with colds, infections or conditions that may affect your immune system.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks or non-prescribed drugs which can impact the effectiveness of chemotherapy to fight the cancer or delay your healing and recovery.
- Avoid blood draws or pressure checks or injections on the surgery side for five years which can affect your lymph nodes and cause infection.
- Do not wear tight clothing or jewelry on your surgical arm(s).
- Use a cream hair remover or electric razor to remove underarm or body hair as the surgery areas heal.
- Avoid hair weaves, hair perms or gluing hair tracks to the scalp.
- Find salon professionals in your home area that have been trained in cancer hair and scalp care, oncology massage, and nail and skin care.
- Avoid manicures or pedicures; nail polish is OK, but do not cut the cuticles which can lead to infection.
- Seek emotional care, spiritual healing and mental health therapy to deal with your feelings.
- Enjoy time with family and friends as you attend family gatherings and events.
- Take time to do what is best for you, get the help you need and understand each step along the way.
- Celebrate every healing milestone. Live life to the fullest.
Resources for hair, nails and skincare training can be found at: