Ovarian Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Perhaps one of the most obvious outward signs of chemotherapy is hair loss. Whether your hair becomes thinner or falls out completely, you can expect it to begin one to three weeks after you start chemo. Your hair might fall out gradually or in clumps, and can affect your entire body -- which means in addition to the hair on your head, you might lose the hair on your eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs, and other areas of the body.
Hair loss can be devastating, since many women identify themselves through their hairstyle. Losing your hair doesn't mean giving up your style, though. Your baldness is a testament to your strength -- do your best to embrace it! You can try out a new hairstyle with a wig. Or experiment with hats, scarves, and bandanas.
(Click Chemotherapy and Hair Loss to read additional tips for dealing with this side effect and ways to care for your hair and scalp.)
Most importantly, remember that your hair loss is temporary. Unlike cancer cells, hair follicles are able to repair themselves after chemotherapy ends. Therefore, the hair you lose during chemotherapy will almost always grow back.
Cancer itself can cause pain. So can cancer treatment. Thankfully, several types of pain medicines are available to help ease cancer-related pain. The type of medicine your healthcare provider gives you will depend on how severe your pain is, as well as what medicines work best for your particular situation.
If you're experiencing persistent pain, your healthcare provider will likely give you different pain medicines -- some to take on a regular basis, and others to use as needed, when your pain flares up.
It's easier to control pain by treating it early, rather than waiting for it to get really bad. So, you'll want to stay on schedule with your regular pain medicine. You can use short-acting, as-needed pain pills to treat "break-through pain" -- the pain that crops up between the routine pain medicine doses.
A lot of people find that nonmedication therapy can help with pain. Relaxation, meditation, and other complementary treatments can be used alongside medication. Ask your healthcare provider about places that offer classes on these techniques for people with cancer.
Don't be surprised if you need adjustments in your pain medicines throughout treatment as your pain level changes or your body becomes tolerant to the pain-relieving effects of the medication. Keep the lines of communication with your healthcare provider open so he or she knows how much pain you're experiencing, what works well to relieve it, and what hasn't been working. In particular, let your healthcare provider know if you need four or more doses of your breakthrough pain medicine each day -- you might need an increase in your long-acting pain medicine.
If you find your pain is particularly difficult to control, you might want to ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a pain specialist.