CQ: Side Effects Overview.
Here @ CQ we have extensive experience with side effect preparation, management, and challenges.
While we have prepared some wonderful and very helpful resources for you to explore in our Side Effects section, we wanted to cover a few topics at greater detail.
To put it directly, cancer is an aggressive disease and therefore the treatments meant to treat, attack, and destroy cancer and cancerous cells are aggressive too. What does this mean? It means that with aggressive treatments come many different possible side effects.
Many of the online articles and resources you read about medicines and treatments will include a long laundry list of side effects. Legally, drug and medical companies are required to list all possible side effects to avoid lawsuit. However, it is important to take note of all of these. You or the patient may present some of the side effects, many of them, or none at all - it's impossible to know exactly how each person will react, given each individuals make up is different and it is hard to know when viewed in combination with many other drugs and medicines a patient may be taking at a given time.
takeaway: educate yourself and prepare for many of the side effects that may present themselves. If you are prepared and a side effect does not present itself, you are ahead of the game.
Another important thing is to connect with other caregivers through our CQ Ambassador Program or our Feedback form who may be further along in their cancer journey. They have invaluable information. Again, while each patient is different, there are many tips and suggestions that are only discovered once you go through the treatment or procedure personally.
For example, with our mom we learned through talking to other caregivers, that after a chemotherapy treatment was given, it was extremely helpful to come back to the medical center the next day to receive hydration and fluids via an IV. This helped stay ahead of dehydration instead of waiting for it to present itself. (Note, this was particular to our mom and her disease, it may not be applicable in your case.) But the point we want to make is by taking to other caregivers, we learned important steps that helped reduce side effects. It also made sure we asked our doctors for this particular follow-up IV. They did not suggest it originally, but approved it once we asked.
takeaway: talk to others who have a similar cancer and are further in their journey. connect via our cq ambassador program or feedback form. They have important knowledge & experience.
A third point we want to stress is about finding balance. We @CQ recognize that on one hand you can drive yourself mad reading about every drug and every treatments possible side effects. They are long lists and also sometimes scary lists. You may not have all of these side effects, or they may present themselves in various orders.
On the other hand, if you ignore all possible side effects they can surprise you. You might not have the proper tools / medicines / options at home to deal with them appropriately when they do surface.
So find a balance. Find a balance between educating yourself and preparing but not driving yourself mad trying to worry about every single possible side effect. See if you can prioritize side effects ahead of time by most common, less common, rare. Prepare for the most common ones first.
takeaway: find balance between educating yourself about possible side effects without driving yourself mad and making sure you don't underestimate possible side effects.
And lastly, what do we mean by preparing for side effects?
That's where our Side Effect resource section comes in handy. Read and research side effects prior to any treatment or operation. Read about what drugs you may be prescribed before they are prescribed so you can ask your doctor about possible side effects.
Ask your doctor what you can do to be proactive and stay ahead of side effects. Talk to them about anti-nausea medicine given prior to chemotherapy so you can avoid nausea after the fact. Ask them all you can do to prevent side effects, not just react to them.
Track medicine and side effects. By tracking you can help determine what medicine is causing a particular side effect, when side effects tend to present themselves, what might be the cause, and what particular remedy helps mitigate a particular side effect. Again, we have provided a medicine tracker in our Medicine section and a side effect tracker in our Side Effect section.
takeaway: there are things you can do, resources in our side effects section, that will help you prevent side effects, not just react to them.
Too Long ; Didn't Read (TL;DR)
Educate yourself and prepare for many of the side effects that may present themselves. Talk to others who have a similar cancer and are further in their journey. Connect via our CQ Ambassador Program or Feedback Form. They have important knowledge. Find a balance between educating yourself about possible side effects without driving yourself mad - but don't underestimate possible side effects. There are things you can do now, see our Side Effects section, that will help you prevent side effects, not just react them.