What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is medicine given to cancer patients that is designed to kill cancer cells in the body. While it is a common type of cancer treatment, not all cancer patients require chemotherapy as a form of treatment; it depends on their specific diagnosis. Sometimes chemotherapy is given to shrink cancer cells before surgery.
How is chemotherapy given?
There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs designed to fight different types of cancer. Cancer patients may be given different doses of different drugs depending on their treatment plan. Chemotherapy drugs can either be taken in:
- tablet form
- intravenously injected directly into the bloodstream
- injected into a muscle (intramuscular)
- under the skin (subcutaneous)
How does chemotherapy work?
Cancer cells grow and multiply at a much more rapid pace than normal cells. Chemotherapy works by targeting these cells and stopping them from further multiplying and increasing. However, there are other healthy cells in the body that divide rapidly, which can be affected by chemotherapy. Damage to these healthy cells is what causes the side effects of chemotherapy.
Each chemotherapy drug can cause different side effects, and affect each patient differently, so cancer patients usually do not know how they will be affected by chemotherapy until they take it. Some patients are fortunate enough to experience very mild side effects, while others might be more severely affected. However, side effects are usually temporary, and go away after chemotherapy treatment is over.
How can I cope with my feelings during chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is treatment that can take weeks or even months and during this time, it is normal to feel emotions ranging from anxiety and depression, to irritability and frustration. There are several ways you can cope with your feelings during treatment, such as relaxation and meditation, mild exercise such as yoga, joining a support group, or talking with your loved ones or a professional therapist about your feelings. You can read more here.