- You may read all the hospital pamphlets and doctor handouts in the world, but there are some things about the cancer experience that just aren’t mentioned.
It’s not the cancer that hurts. It’s the treatment.
Breast cancer usually isn’t painful – until treatment starts. That lump you felt? Didn’t hurt, right? The follow-up MRI, even the biopsy – not too bad. But once treatment begins in earnest, you’ll probably experience some pain – from minor, to quite major. Thankfully, there are drugs and other options to deal with the pain and discomfort of cancer treatment;
- Why does this matter? I’ve heard plenty of women say they don’t want to know the details. They just want the doctor to tell them what they need to do. It matters because women who understand why their doctors are prescribing a particular course of treatment are more likely to follow through with it. In this study, 86% of the women who knew they were hormone receptor positive received hormone treatment compared to 71% for those who didn’t know their receptor status. I would imagine the rates of long-term compliance drop lower for women who don’t understand why the drug that is giving them hot flashes or aching bones can reduce their chance of recurrence.
- Teeth seem hard, but as toothpaste ads like to remind us, they are vulnerable to attack. Researchers recently reported that while the majority of adults’ teeth show signs of enamel loss, acidic sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice make the situation worse. People under treatment for breast cancer need to be especially careful with their teeth because both chemotherapy and bone-strengthening drugs called bisphosphonates can lead to dental problems.
Chemotherapy. Before starting chemotherapy, see your dentist to have your teeth cleaned and discuss whether you should use a fluoride rinse during treatment as many dentists recommend.
Without taking a deep dive into molecular biology, antioxidants help prevent your body’s cells from being damaged. Damaged cells often grow out of control, which can lead to cancer. Therefore, consuming antioxidants can help prevent cancer. Some of the best sources for antioxidants are: berries (blueberries), fruits (apples), vegetables (spinach), beans, nuts and herbs.
Research seems to go back and forth on the supposed benefits of soy. Some research studies find that soy promotes tumor growth while others find the opposite.