Chemotherapy can sometimes cause changes in your nails and nail beds. For instance, you may find that your nails are more brittle and break more easily, have grooves, change color, are more sensitive, and grow at a faster or slower rate. You may also notice that nail beds lift up. Keep your nails short if any of this happens. Nail changes almost always go away after treatment ends.
Tips for keeping nails healthy:
- Do not cut your cuticles – use cuticle remover instead.
- Massage cuticle cream into the cuticle area. This helps prevent dryness, splitting and hangnails.
- Wear gloves while washing dishes or doing other chores. Try not to keep your hands in water for very long. This can lead to fungal infections of the nail bed.
- Wear polish to protect nails and keep them strong. Nail polish looks nice, too!
- Use an oily non-acetone remover to take off polish. Very dry nails can become weaker or more brittle during treatment.
- Do not wear glue-on nails (or acrylic or gel nail sculptures) during treatment. They could increase fungal, bacterial, or viral exposure.
- Tell the doctor if you notice any signs of inflammation or infections such as darkening or lifting of the nail bed.
- Avoid the nail salon during treatment, to lessen the risk of infection. If you do decide to get a professional manicure or pedicure, bring your own clean instruments for the technician to use. And don’t let them cut your cuticles!
Eating healthy is very important, especially while you are in treatment. And you’d be surprised – it is not that difficult!
Let’s start with the basic “Big Five” food groups:
- Breads, cereals, rice and pasta
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese)
- Meat, poultry, fish and other proteins (dry beans, eggs, nuts)
Daily servings from these food groups will provide you with basic nutrition including the essential proteins and carbohydrates. Consult with your doctor or dietitian for more detailed information on diet. Before taking any vitamins or food supplements, you and your parents should talk with your doctor.
The American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345) offers a free guide Nutrition for the Person with Cancer. This guide is designed to help the person with cancer learn more about nutritional needs, managing eating problems during treatment, dealing with side effects, methods of providing good nutrition and meal planning. It offers suggestions for healthy eating before, during and after treatment. Guidelines for sanitation, food safety, and food handling are provided. Recipes for nutritious snacks, drinks, and soups are also included. A downloadable version of the guide is available at www.cancer.org.
The National Cancer Institute (1-800-4-CANCER) offers a free booklet Eating Hints: Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment, with lots of information, tips, recipes, etc. A downloadable version of this guide is available at http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/eating-hints.
During chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone therapy, your body is working overtime to fight cancer. The right workout can increase energy, reduce stress, and offset potential weight gain. Being fit is about having fun, performing regular daily activities, and enjoying sports and leisure activities without tiring.
- Fitness includes cardio endurance, muscle strength and joint flexibility. Walking, hiking, playing frisbee, swimming and other types of aerobic exercises contribute to fitness.
- Don’t get discouraged if your exercise capacity decreases during treatment. This is normal and expected.
- Start off slowly and increase the duration of exercise as you are able.
- Set reasonable goals for yourself.
- Keep notes on your progress. Little by little, you will see and feel the improvement!
- Exercising with a partner can help keep you encouraged.
- Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about physical activity and any possible limitations.
- If your platelet count is low, avoid contact sports and activities like skate-boarding, mountain biking, horseback riding, and weightlifting until you and your parents have talked with your doctor.
- Generally, it’s recommended you drink at least 6 tall glasses of water each day. Even more fluid is needed if you’re exercising intensely.
Tobacco: For starters, smoking causes bad breath, smelly clothes and hair, is expensive and is a killer. Your body is under enough stress. Don’t add to it by smoking or using smokeless tobacco. They are both nasty and bad for you.
Tattoos and Body Piercing: Remember, you are at an increased risk for infection. Why chance it now? If you still think it is something you want to do, it’s important that you talk it over with your doctor.
Drugs: You’re already doing drugs – chemotherapy drugs – your kidneys and liver are working hard to handle them. Alcohol and other drugs can interfere with your treatment and add further stress to your organs. The use of drugs and alcohol can prolong your treatment and cause you further harm.
Music & Dancing: By all means – sounds great. But exercise caution in crowds.
Friends: Your relationships with your friends may be affected by your cancer too. Your friends may feel awkward around you and not know what to say or do. They may have questions about whether cancer is contagious, or about appearance-related side effects such as hair loss. Be positive and honest with your friends – assure them that you’re not contagious, and, yes, your hair will grow back! Some kids will probably shy away from you, but your real friends will stay that way, no matter what.
Relationships: Whether you’re dating yet or not, you’ll be thinking about it soon. Relationships are exciting, confusing, wonderful and complicated. Just remember a couple of things. Remember to practice safe sex, or better still, choose not to have sexual intercourse at all. If you are sexually active, you must take the same healthy, safe sex precautions as everyone else. Protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The Centers for Disease Control estimates that people in the 15-24 age range account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year.
Before you begin or continue a sexually active relationship, talk to your parents, doctor, nurse or social worker.
Unwind: It’s important to find a way to relieve stress. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. Massage therapy is also a popular way to reduce stress. Relaxing your muscles can relax your mind, as well. Other techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation may also be helpful. Discuss these options with your doctor
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