tips for getting through cancer treatment that worked for me

Traveler419 Member Posts: 5
edited October 2017 in Head and Neck Cancer #1

When I was diagnosed back in March, I was able to connect with some different individuals who were going through the process, or had just completed treatment, ahead of me.  Here are some of the suggestions that I took that might help others.  Some came from the my team at Sloan Kettering, as well.  I'll give some quick stats of weight gain/loss along the way:


Gain 15-20 pounds in two weeks before the start of the treatment.  I ate everything in sight, and managed to go from 170 to 184 in two weeks, giving me a good cushion. I'm naturally skinny, so I had to do the opposite of what some others may deal with.

Exercise during treatment, when up to it: managed to do this, even if only for 15 or 20 minutes, most days (when I wasn't doing my six hours for Cisplatin for two days and the day after those cycles).  Tried to do weights, and skip any cardio, as I didn't want to drop weight more than I was already experiencing.

Started the day with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of organic grass fed butter in my coffee.  2 cups, so 2x.  This added up to almost 700 calories, out of the gate, and it tasted great throughout treatment, unlike so many other things.  I avoid dairy overall, and i'm a "mostly" Vegan eater today, but didn't let that stop me from adding butter to boost calories.

After coffee, I would drink a fortified Ensure, adding several hundred more calories.  By this point, I'm almost halfway there to a daily calorie intake that keeps the weight on.

I carried a bottle of water, mixed with sea salt and baking soda, and rinsed my mouth every hour or two throughout the day.  I never experienced a single mouth sore during the entire 35 radiation treatment cycle.  

Used a Neti Pot in the morning and evening, to rinse both nasal passages with the packets of salt/baking soda that come with it, something I credit with the low levels of mucous I had to deal with.

I cranked up a humidifier, right next to my head, and never slept without the cool mist flowing over me.  I'd literally wake up with a cool sheen of water on my pillow, and me, but it never hurt my sleep pattern and, imo, kept my burnt throat moisturized and reduced potential pain.

I did my best to eat "regular" food during the entire process.  The doctor prescribed Lidocaine, which allowed me to numb my throat and still get food down, even when pain was spiking.  I was also on a gradually ramped up intake of Gabopentin, something usually reserved for seizures, and it seems that this contributed to the overall pain management.  

Bought a Vitamix and went to town on it, making some soups that get hot in the blender (just from the incredible friction)...this thing is amazing and I've bought another one for the home near my business. They aren't cheap, but they work great.  If not a Vitamix, then any solid blender will do.  

Always loved protein shakes, and this continued daily through treatment, as my mid morning 500 calorie booster.  Blueberries, Vegan powder, banana and almond milk made up the mix.

Since I received so much good advice from others, I wanted to share with as many possible who may not know about these tips. They worked for me, so I hope they work for anyone who has to deal with this lousy situation.

radiation burns were handled with a mixture of Eucerin globbed on after each treatment and throughout the rest of the day.  Had aloe plants that I'd cut and apply the fresh aloe from, all over my neck.  Never more than slight redness  

I'm now back to 170 pounds, active, 70% of my previous 100% at 18 weeks post radiation/chemo.  My diagnosis was primary at BOT and right lymph nodes HPV+.  As of last month, in remission and trying to continue my upward trend to restore my full energy and zeal!  

All the best!