Hints and Tips to help you Cope

These come from a variety of sources - many of them from members of the Swallows or Amazon mailing lists, from women who have been through these experiences, from books, from practitioners. Please do use the feedback form if you have Hints and Tips to share. Please, bookmark this site so that you can easily find it again!

Each Sunday, on the Amazon and Swallows mailing lists, there is a guided meditation. At this time, we like to try and find the space to come together as a group, no matter where we are in the world, and to reach out and link our thoughts and energies in a spirit of love and healing. Led my one of our valued members, this is a truly inspirational session. Very often there is feedback to the list about how helpful it has been, how in tune with people the theme has been. If you join our mailing list, you can participate with us.

Source of inspiration for the Meditations include ......

Coping with Diagnosis Coping with 
Coping with Chemotherapy Coping with Radiotherapy Coping with Hormone Therapy Just

Coping with Diagnosis

There are three factors which really underpin all actions and treatments and are the precursors to a successful outcome, in other words, these things should be in place before you embark on visits to consultants, undergo tests or treatments or make important decisions:

INFORMATION. You need to arm yourself with as much information as you can about your dis-ease and the types of tests and treatments that are available. The experts that you will see will each have their specialist field of knowledge. You may worry that you can't possibly learn as much in a week or two as they have spent years doing, but you have a great advantage - you only have to research and learn about your particular problem and you are already an expert on a subject that they know nothing about - yourself! Use whatever sources of information are readily available to you and be prepared to explore and to ask others to help you.
Take a tape recorder, or a friend,  with you when you see a consultant.  Take a notebook and jot down what you have learned and your reactions as soon as the meeting is finished.

Possible sources of information

RESPONSIBILITY. Empower yourself. You are responsible for your own well-ness. This doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own or do everything for yourself. Rather, you are the conductor of the orchestra and each player is there to play his/her instrument for you. It is worth emphasising this point - all the players in your particular orchestra  are there to do things FOR you, not TO you. If you abdicate responsibility, then you allow yourself to be a number, an object to be acted on. How much better to be an individual, who armed with up to date information, can make informed choices and rally the troops to your cause!

ATTITUDE. A positive altitude can do wonders for you. You don't have to be (nor should you expect to be) positive all the time. Accept and believe that you can make a difference. Whatever your religious beliefs, at times of crisis, when your health and life itself are under threat and your outer strength may be failing, you can call on your inner strength to lead you to where you want to be.

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Coping with Surgery

I recommend using the homeopathic remedy Arnica before surgery  and also afterwards. You can use 30x or higher, up to 200x. This aids the body in dealing with the shock of surgery and is also a traditional remedy for reducing bruising. Please note that Arnica should never be applied externally to broken skin, so don't use the cream or tincture on your scar, take pills instead.

Also the Bach "Rescue Remedy" is an excellent aid to recovery and helping to overcome fear, fright and shock. I filled a dropper bottle
with pure spring water and added a few drops of the remedy. Then you can moisten your lips with it, even though you are not allowed anything to drink prior to surgery.

A further homeopathic remedy that is useful after surgery is Hypericum. This aids in pain relief and also for healing nerve damage (which is very common with lymph node dissection).

There are some choices to be made about surgery - apart from whether you choose to have lumpectomy or mastectomy, you should also discuss lymph node removal with your surgeon. Removal of the lymph nodes, which is used to help 'stage' your cancer, carries a later risk of lymphoedema, and you should be aware that there is now a procedure called 'sentinal node biopsy' which will minimise this risk.

The following is by Laurie Moser, of the Women's Cancer Resource Centre in Minneapolis

Tips, Advice, Suggestions Prior to Surgery

WCRC has worked with many women prior to surgery for many types of cancer.
Any type of surgery is psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually challenging.  There are several advance preparatory actions that you may consider to help deal with the tension on many levels.  These tips can be used individually or collectively to work with preoperative anxiety. These tips have been collected over time working with women and their
partners during this difficult time.  If you have any additional ideas, please feel free to write, call or email us with your creative ideas.

First and foremost, be gentle with yourself during this time.  Give yourself time, comfort and nurturance.  Do things that relax you during the time before your surgery.

Included in the first point would be such things as:
* massage
* healing touch
* energy work
* boosting your immune system through nutritional and vitamin intake prior to surgery.
* Have your house cleaned (by someone else!) so that when you return from surgery you are not looking at a mess or tempted to try to clean a dirty house.

Consider doing a pre-surgery ritual.  There are many ideas you may have for a private ritual or a ritual with close friends and family members.  There are people available who can assist you in planning such a ritual.  Call WCRC to get names and numbers of someone in your community.  Some clients have done such rituals as:
* Creating a body cast of your body and painting a shield of healing on the cast.
* Holding a "Kiss My Breast Goodbye Party," using humor, poetry, song, ritual to figuratively say goodbye to your breast or ovaries or uterus, etc.
* Have tasteful photographs taken of your body prior to surgery.
* Hold a ritual where all your supporters give you affirmations of healing, caring and love.  You may audiotape these affirmations and then use this tape during surgery on a personal headset.
* Have a healer work with you and your supporters to work with strengthening your body prior to surgery.
If you are able to work it out with your surgeon and hospital AHEAD of the scheduled surgery date, you may be able to bring some things into the operation room to help you cope with the surgery.  You may be allowed to bring a personal headset into surgery so that you can listen to soothing music, healing affirmations, guided meditations or whatever would comfort you during the surgery.  Second, you may be allowed to have a "Healing Touch" practitioner, an acupuncturist or other healer actually in the operating room with you or in your hospital room following surgery to work with your energy field while you are under and recovering from anesthesia. Some research has reported that this has made recovery times shorter, kept blood pressures lower and allowed people to use less pain medication during the post-operative period.

Set up a phone tree prior to your surgery.  Choose one person to call after surgery and have them report to the rest of your friends/family. Alternatively, have one person use their voice mail as a daily updating system. They can update their voice mail every day with your condition, so that people can check on how you are doing without actually having to call you directly.

Take up the offers of your friends and family members to help.  Ask them to:
* write thank you notes for you,
* read books about your type of cancer and give you the "cliff notes" about that book,
* ask a friend to set up a coordinated food delivery system: each supporter can bring a meal for you each night for as long as is needed after surgery,
* ask friends to feed your pet, water your plants, or collect your mail.

Written by Laurie Moser, Assistant Director, Women's Cancer Resource Center
1815 East 41st Street, Suite C, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407 Phone: 1-800-908-8544

Carole Berlin (Amazon/Swallows) suggests:
If you think you might do chemo afterwards, contact Larry Weisenthal  well before your surgery  at
http://www-med.stanford.edu/CBHP/Medical/Chemotherapy/Chemosensitivity to arrange to have part of your tumor specially packed and sent to him, according to his instructions.  He can test your tumor to see which chemo
has the best chance of working against it.   Your insurance will probably not pay for this test, and your onc will tell you it isn't necessary, but I feel that anything which can increase your chance of success with chemo is worth doing.
Unless you are very familiar with the hospital, try to arrange a visit prior to the operation. Go to the nurses station and talk with them, they may even let you see an empty room. If after hours you may even be able to visit the waiting & operating rooms. I found that being familiar with the surroundings were a definite plus for me. I had two deliveries, my tubes tied and a cyst removed at that hospital. I felt less scared because of the familiar surrounding.

Another thing and totally in another vein: be sure that all your tests are IN. After the mastectomy the bone scan result came back positive. Had I known that I was stage lV and that the cancer had metastasized I never would have let him remove the breast (the
lumpectomy was enough) and he would not have removed any of the nodes either since I turned down chemotherapy and radiotherapy. My .0l32 cents worth. Monique

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Coping with Chemo
I have stood in your shoes; when I was diagnosed April 96 the first words out of my mouth were "I'll never do chemotherapy-" but with my sons then 5 & 10 I felt like I had to try everything. Even the alternative practitioners I spoke to were not willing to advise for stage III. My homoepathic doctor had a phone consult with Steve Austin (author of alt. BC book) and he said he could not
recommend alternative therapy for later stage cancers. My acupuncturist agreed and offered to help with side effects. It is easy to say no chemo with an early stage diagnosis. I think they give way, way too much chemotherapy..... But I regret that I spent one precious year of my life so sick. Still, that is hindsight....with a her2 positive cancer chemo is less useful...or maybe its all luck or kharma. I do know that if I had progressed to mets without trying chemo, I would have regretted NOT trying it. I think when you have kids you have to grab every chance; it's an instinct.
I found the nausea actually worse on an empty stomach, so anything you can eat should help.  I also lost weight while on Epirubicin, despite eating a lot of high-calorie foods, so I think it is good to "keep your strength up", and as you say, potatoes are quite healthy.  I would recommend eating the skins (as long as they are chemical-free) and generally keeping up your fibre intake, even if you have to take Metamucil or some such preparation - constipation can become a serious problem, but then again, you may be different to me in that respect!  The nurses told me it is often caused by the anti-nausea drugs which are administered with the chemo.

Just a few puffs of cannabis would stop me feeling queasy, and give me an appetite for good, nutritious food, and improve my
mood.  Illegal, in the US and in the UK, but worth trying if you can get it (my nurses all agreed with me it was the best thing for nausea).
Nausea - I smoked cannabis - just a few puffs of mild stuff did the trick, the nausea eased within seconds, and soon after I would have a good appetite for some nourishing food.  I only had really bad nausea one time (could not eat, sleep or even lie down for 3 days), but then a friend sent me some pot, and it fixed me right away!  I am not talking about getting stoned out of your mind, here - just 3 or 4 puffs (no tobacco).  Other times the nausea just made me feel slightly "yucky", and I preferred the "herbal" remedy to taking the anti-nausea meds (which have some side-effects).  Cannabis is prescribed to people with cancer or AIDS (in California?) and is recognised for its effectiveness in alleviating nausea, stimulating appetite, and improving mood.  So you might like to try it, if you can get it.

Other things that might help:  Brush your tongue (gently) with a toothbrush and water (and a little minty toothpaste, if the taste and smell don't bother you).  My tongue was often "coated", and even water would taste "off" because of it.  In fact, the more bland and healthy foods were harder to eat, because there was nothing to mask the horrible taste in my mouth. Tongue brushing helped things to taste better.  No doubt you have been advised to use good oral hygiene, rinse with slightly salty water, and avoid lacerating your mouth/tongue/throat.  Even poppy seeds on bread, or wholemeal bread itself, or crunchy vegetables like celery and lettuce, I found, could scratch the throat, and make eating difficult.

Ginger tea is also good against nausea. Try 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger root, plus 1 teaspoon of honey (unless you are avoiding honey), steeped in boiling water for a few minutes, then strained.

I could not face vegetable juices, but I found watermelon juice was very refreshing, and made my mouth feel clean.  It is also a lot easier to make, and produces very little pulp so the juicer is easily cleaned.

The nurses said I should drink 3 extra litres of water a day, to flush the chemo through (risk of cystitis otherwise).  Perhaps this depends on the type of chemo.

Don't fret if you can't face vegetable juices, and find yourself eating things that are not usually allowed.  Some people find they can stick to a really healthy regime while on chemo, but many cannot.  Do whatever you can to help your body through chemo, but don't try to do the impossible.  Your tastes change, often in bizarre ways, and you may not have the energy to shop for and prepare healthy foods and juices all the time.  Promise yourself lots of lovely juices when you have finished chemo and feel up to juicing again.  Chemo can be depressing enough, without guilt on top.  I certainly felt the need to nurture myself, and spoil myself - perhaps I was wrong to indulge, but I just had to get through it whatever way I could.

Hair loss:  Mine fell out in 2 stages.  The first time, a few handfulls in the shower, but this just thinned out my hair evenly, so that it looked fine afterwards.  The next time, much more came out.  I was practically bald at the front, but had hair left at the back of the head, which fell out gradually - this was unpleasant (I was in the shower for ages, and it was still coming out in dribs and drabs, then it was coming out on my clothes). I ended up getting my husband to cut the remaining hair short, then shave my head (ahhhh, romance!  ;-).  I wished afterwards that I had gone to the hairdressers and had a really short cut (even had it shorn like a man's) BEFORE it really fell out.  Very short hairs falling out are less noticeable on clothing, and less distressing in the shower.  This is of course a very personal decision.
Keeping your hair/helping your scalp tips:
- Use vitamin E * 1600 IUs daily, starting one week prior to chemo.
- Put an ice pack on your head while having the chemo itself (this needs the co-operation of your medical team - it's standard practice in some places, I hear)
- Reiki energy focussed on the scalp can prevent or slow hair loss, without helping the cancer cells
- close the crown chakra (the energy centre at the top of the head) tightly during chemo
- drink nettle infusion
Your doc may be able to communicate with your insurance co to get you some regular home health care; they do some light housekeeping, too (I do mean LIGHT, as in wash up the five dishes in the sink or pop a small load into the washing machine, etc.  You get the idea.)  Some will also help you set your hair (whether or not it's on your head at the time), bathe, or do those other daily things that make us feel better.
Experiment with adding 'healthy' things to gingerale: freshly-juiced fruit, for example.  Oh!  One more thing my mom liked:  I'd freeze whole fresh organic peaches and mangoes in season. If you then rinse them under warm/hot water, the skin slips right off (well, the peachskin does, anyway), and you can slice them into the blender. They make a nice 'slush' that goes well in ginger ale.
<< People say that tastes change, and that I could associate things with chemo that I didn't like for a long time to come and not enjoy them afterwords.  >>

I usually added no salt or pepper to my cooking.  While on chemo I couldn't get enough salt or pepper.  When I got my chemo treatment I ask for a real slow drip because I could taste that stuff and felt like my guts would come up.   A real slow drip and a mint or other favorite candy in your mouth helps.
I also use affirmations with chemotherapy, as I used to be vehemently opposed to it and felt that I needed to replace any negative thoughts about it with positive energy so that my body would work in harmony with it. So far, the side effects have been quite tolerable and not very dramatic.
I have found that having a coffee enema a day or two after chemo has made me feel much better. I am planning now to have one a week.
> Hello everyone! I'm into my fourth month of  CMF therapy; although my doctor said the drug isn't  cumulative, the nausea seems to be getting worse. I wasn't  actually throwing up until the last three treatments, and it  takes two days to happen.

It isn't unusual for waves of nausea to hit only after several treatments...and for some treatments to be worse than others. As for the two day lapse between treatment and vomiting...what is your level of hydration?

Presuming you have healthy kidneys (not kidney compromised), you might consider drinking a lot of water one day BEFORE treatment, during the infusion and for several (2-3 days) AFTER your treatment...in some people it minimizes the morbidity (side effects)....
I got joint pain about a month after I finished CMFx6...my feet and hips hurt every time I got up from sitting to walk, my fingers ached in the morning when i woke up...had never had a problem before treatment. When I told my onc at my next visit he said wouldn't be side effect of chemo which really surprised me at the time...i thought, well what else would have caused it? He said I could be developing arthritis (out of the blue?) and ran all the tests--all were negative but he said that didn't mean it wasn't it...and that I should take pain relievers. Then I checked with my herbalist and he said it was due to recovering immune and blood system, that it was "sluggish" so-to-speak and not able to circulate properly in  all the vessels and would gradually respond to herb treatment. Nine months later it's much better, no achy fingers in the am, and only occasional stiffness when sitting. Maybe would have improved anyway with time? I don't know, but I liked his explanation and treatment better than my onc's!
mouthwash for mouth sores

Here is something you may want to try. I used it when I was undergoing my AC treatments and it seemed to help me. Buy yourself a bottle of Milk of Magnesia. Pour off the top of the liquid that rises to the top. Dip a Q-tip into the remaining thick cream-like substance and rub on your sores. I believe what the MOM does is break down the acid that causes these sores. I read about this tip in a wonderful book called Coping with Chemotherapy by Nancy Bruning
I've continued having a vitamin infusion on the same day as the chemo, and plan to continue on a weekly basis. And I'm taking all my usual supps except for genistein, which I read may have the effect of protecting any cancer cells from radiotherapy (which I'm having concurrently). I've added some things too, as I find out what helps recovery and minimises side effects. I'm taking regular exercise and generally enjoying being at home, and having time  to see more of friends and family.
There are defintiely two opposing schools of thought on the use of anti-oxidants during chemo..The doctor  who I went to see this week, is in firmly IN FAVOUR of taking anti-oxidants and supps during chemo - He has advised me to have an infusion both before and as soon after chemo as possible. My infusion contains 27g of Vitamin C, as well as selenium and other vits and minerals. My GP (general practitioner) was also quite happy for me to continue with my regime of supplements during chemo.

To reassure you, I'll quote from a book "Healing Foods" by Dr Rosy Daniel, who is medical director of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. She has established the largest cancer and nutrition database in the UK, with Dr Sandra Goodman.

"Vitamins and Minerals During Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy "

"Vitamin C augments the effectiveness of radiotherapy and can help decrease the anaemia, pain, appetite loss and weight loss experienced by those on this form of treatment. Vitamin C also protects the heart for those on the chemotherapeutic drug Adriamycin (as does CoQ10). Vitamin C also enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents 5-Fluoracil and Bleomycin. Vitamin E reduces cardiac and skin toxicity and hair loss for those on Doxorubicin, protects lymph tissue against Bleomycin, and decreases cardio-toxicity of Adriamycin. Beta-carotene potentiates the effectiveness of 5-Fluoracil, Methotrexate and Cobalt therapy. Selenium is also radio- and chemo-protective, and protects kidneys against cisplatin. Radiotherapy decreases levels of vitamin E, B12, folic acid and C, so it is a good idea to ensure a diet rich in these substances or supplementation while on radiotherapy. "

Nowhere does she suggest that there are any problems with taking these during chemo. I will certainly continue throughout my treatment. I was also told  that the things I was doing would make the chemo more effective, so that a lower dosage would be feasible. I know there are a number of doctors now practicing 'low dose' chemo combined with complemetary nutritional supplements etc.

It is one of the problems with this dis-ease that there are opposing views on almost everything!

See also http://www-personal.umich.edu/~schuette/BCStore.html for some more tips.

email : sbuckler@ulster.net
SUBJECT: Suggestion/comment re    yerba mate

Great job on the newbies pack so far. I think it will be helpful for so many people.

Here's an excellent treatment to prevent or cure neuropthy from taxol. I worked with a nutritionist and he suggested I
use the herb yerba mate for numbness and tingling in hands and feet from taxol.

You can get yerba at the health food store, usually in the bulk food section.

Take 4 t of yerba and put in qt jar. Fill with boiling water. Let it sit for 1 hour or longer. It can sit all day. Drain. Add honey if you want, drink warm or cold. Drink this infusion for 5 - 7 days.

You should begin to notice improvement by the 5th day. If you don't, increase the amount of yerba to 6 - 8 t. If it hasn't worked by 10-12 days or so, then it probably won't work for you.

This totally eliminated my neuropathy from taxol. I drank it from the time I first began to get neuropathy until a few weeks after I finished the taxol.


I found that one of the biggest problems for me was the launch into menopause. It seems to me that my experience of hot flashes has been far worse than it has been for any of my (non bc) friends. 7 years on, I still get hot sweats occasionally (thank goodness, not every half hour any more....). I sleep with a fan, always carry a hand fan with me, and always wear cotton clothes, or other natural fibres. Personally, I never found a herbal remedy that really helped me with it. Maybe I ddin't persevere enough. What I do find that really does helps me to sleep through the night is Camomile Tea. Belinda Feb 2006

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Coping with Rads

I am eating yoghurt for the acidophilus which usually works fine for me. I normally only take immune boosters when I feel I am coming down with something, beause my immune system has been working very well since I stopped the stress of my old job.

As for radiation, I'm on the table even less than you are.  At first, I looked at the reflection of the red light in the TV monitor, and counted the seconds. Now I just space out in a meditative state.  Today is treatment 15.  Getting a little bit of crustiness around my nipple.  Added Aquafor which the nurse gave me to the overall aloe application and there's an immediate improvement.  Still very little redness and I'm the kind of person who can get a sunburn walking across a parking lot.

The only long term effects on the treated area are the tissue is a little more firm (shoulda had 'em radiate both!!!!!!)  I still sweat, but I don't have much hair on that side also.

Even though the radiation was easier than the chemo, it bothered me more mentally - it was the fact that they had me in a room lined with lead, with a big machine, and then they left.  That turned out to be a mind thing with me.
here are some of the tips that I used when I went through radiotherapy.   During the treatment I would think of things that normally I
wouldn't have time to ponder during the course of the day, like the fact that I was going to be a grandmother for the first time and since I show horses, I would actually ride some of my classes (helped make the treatment go faster and I think helped make me a better rider), or sometimes I would just organize my day in my mind.  It seemed to help.

I took antioxidants and vitamins and I have a friend who is a regular MD, but also went to school in Eastern medicine and he whipped up herbs for me to make tea - in fact I am still taking them.  The mixture is different now - more for prevention of recurrence.

My radiation oncologist gave me some cream to use - I can't remember the name of it, but it was very soothing.  I was quite lucky - my skin just looked a bit sunburned, nothing worse than that.  The cream really did help and it was part of the treatment so I would ask the tech about any creams. In fact, when my hands get really dry (living in Nevada it happens often) I still use the cream they gave me and I like it a lot.

The hardest part for me was when the tech would close the door and leave me with that machine - that's when I just took myself elsewhere!
I too had radiation and the first few times I was zapped, I felt it.  There are metal markers in my breast that pin point the area where my cancer was. I had a lumpectomy and these markers were put in at that time.  Whenever I have a mammogram, the site is easily identified.  My skin did not burn but I did shed the top layer after the treatments were over.  I used bag balm during treatment and I think this helped me avoid any problems.  This product is used by dairy farmers to soften the cow's udders and treat minor infections.  How appropriate!
What a merry-go-round. I'm getting off of the radiation carousel after 36 treatments tomorrow, as you jump on. May we all catch the gold ring.

I was told to buy and use TheraCare twice a day on my radiated breast. It basically reminds me of a jar of lanolin that my pharmacist dad kept at home. It is used very sparingly and is absorbed within a few minutes...in other words, doesn't remain greasy or get on clothes. At times my skin was somewhat red and I got "water blisters", just like I do in the sun early in the beach season. They dried up and retreated...never flaked. I've been getting rads as a boost only to the tumor site for the past week and the rest of the breast has paled in color to match the rest of my body.

TheraCare (according to the label) is "completely natural, hypoallergenic" and contains: Lansinon (ultrapure, USP Modified Lanolin)
and isopropyl lanolate.  It is distributed by Vanarsdale Innovative Products in Pensacola, FL 1-800-326-4761.  The 1.3 oz container cost $8.95 and I've barely used 1/3 in 6 weeks. I have no affiliation with the company but believe it's a good product.
I started radiation today - the first zzap - am interested to hear of the need to take kelp - or at least iodine. I'll get ging on that right away.
My lumpectomy was in February and I have not metastizied, so I am very fortunate.  Refused the radiation for ages, but realise now that the 40% increase in protection against recurrance is important to me.  In the months I have been building my immune system with a lovely nutriceutical program - great antioxidants called Life guard. (MLM). Supported by the no-dairy, no-meat, high soya and vegies diet.  Love that  and I look good right now! INterestingly, the nurse assured me I would not feel anything while the rays were on me.  But I DID!  that is not subtle energy at all!  Of course it is not painful, but I can really feel the entry into my breast.  Part of me was yelling NO!  A friend advised me to imagine standing under a waterfall during treatment - she had no skin burns at all.  I'll be trying that.
Your post recalled how I felt myself when I went for my rads appointment. I think its important to try and work WITH whatever
treatment you decide to go with, and to tell the body its positive. For that purpose I wrote myself some AFFIRMATIONS - I forgot to include this in my coping tips, but remembered that that was how I got around my own negativity.

Things like
"This treatment is beneficial and works in harmony with my body"

"I am comfortable with this treatment"

" The treatment is successful in eradicating all micro cancer cells"

"My body recovers quickly from this treatment"

"There is no permanent damage to my health or body. My body and mind support the radiotherapy in overcoming cancer. Every day in every way I am getting better and better"

Note - always in the present tense

Use these, or something like them,  like a mantra before/during/after treatment or whenever you feel negative about it.

Works for chemo too.
Personally, I have read books by Helen Graham and Shakti Gawain on visualisation, as well as the Simonton's and Bernie Siegel books. I always find that my most successful visualisations are when I have a guide, like my reiki master, or yoga teacher, or have a tape recording - I have one by Diana Cooper on vibrant health, which I will use again. As I am currently having chemo and radiotherapy, I am trying out some things. Someone suggested using the image of a waterfall during radiotherapy, but when I tried it, it turned into jedi knights fighting with light swords, so I imagined the cancer cells as Darth Vader and his minions and the radiotherapy was being used by Luke Skywalker and Obi- Wan Kinobe to spread the good force! Subsequently I have returned to this and also the waterfall, bathing me with beneficial healing energy.
An earlier experience I had was when I visited a practitioner of sound therapy - he used colour as well, and had me visualise myself in
turquoise whilst listening to the sound associated with it; this became a beautiful lagoon in which I was swimming - the healing energy of
turquoise has been very helpful to me.
The treatment itself is painless. But I did think that the machinery made a lot of noise. I guess there are different kinds. Mine was cobalt.

I finished radiation treatment in June. My doc wouldn't allow me to wash the area after the first couple of weeks, and advised using baby powder all over. This kept the area dry and smooth.

What I did for myself was to use aloe vera gel (either very pure in a tube, or even better, fresh from the plant). I used this immediately following the treatment. It cooled and soothed, and generally my skin stayed in good condition. Around the second week, I had an area which got very itchy and I was given hydrocortisone cream and then antihistamines, though I don't think either of these helped much.

Soon after that, I discovered St John's Wort Oil (Hypericum). Towards the end, I started getting an area of soreness over my collar bone (rad field extended up my neck), and used St John's Wort Oil- this was fantastic! Not only was it very soothing, but it helped my skin to heal rapidly. The rest of my skin got slightly pink, but not sore. Once the rads were completely finished, I used the oil over the whole area, and my skin returned to baby smooth softness really quickly.


Visualise you are standing under a waterfall, or swimming in a cool lagoon. Visualise the energy coming from God, or your chosen
higher power, and bringing you healing, or zapping any cancer cells left
 n your chest. Sometimes I visualised it like Luke Skywalker zapping Darth Vader (think this was because of the sound of the machine). Loved Carole's visualisation of polar bears! I use something similar to try and help me get over hot flashes...


Take kelp tablets, and other dark green things, like barleygreen, spirulina or seaweed. Miso soup is excellent. I used to have my
treatments late morning, and would often take a flask of miso soup with me to drink afterwards. Seaweed products will help to counteract iodine deficiency and with Bananas and ocean fish help to keep your sodium- potassium balance right.


After a week or two, I found that it was uncomfortable to wear a bra and prosthesis, so I started wearing a crop top, rather than a bra, and loose cotton clothing. Because the field extended, in my case, to above the collar bone, I had (and still have) to keep myself covered up in the sun.


There are controversial opinions about vitamin supplementation. I have used high does of vitamin C and also vitamin E throughout chemo and rads (I was having chemo concurrently). I have no doubt they have helped me to feel better.  I also followed the advice in Jonathan Chamberlain's book Fighting Cancer and supplemented my Essiac tea with drops of Reshi mushroom extract, as well as maitake D-fraction. Also important are Selenium and vitamin A (as beta-carotene).

I think overall, that it is important to take good care of yourself - don't expect to necessarily have the energy that you are used to; just going to and fro every day gets wearing, and I found the tiredness to be cumulative. So be prepared to rest when you feel like it, if you possibly can, and to ask for help in doing things around the house or shopping etc. You may feel terrific throughout - it's an individual thing, and it doesn't last.

What does last, is that the treated skin doesn't sweat, doesn't have hair growing and feels tighter than previously (at least as far as I'm concerned). 3 months on, it looks pretty much the same colour as the untreated area, except on my neck, which has a distinct tan.

update: 2006, 7 years on: The area treated by rads is still hairless, even in my armpit, there are just a few hairs there now. I still don't sweat there either. There is no discoloration now, but I do generally avoid being uncovered in strong sun, and always use a sunscreen, particularly over my neck and collarbone. It is almost as thogh that whole area is 'inert'.
If you have had a mastectomy, you may want to think about having radiotherapy to the scar area - there's a lot of data about this on John Bonine's pages http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~jbonine/radindex.html
I have probably missed the discussions on Breast Cancer, Breast Health! but I wanted to thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I used St John's (St Joan's) Wort oil on my skin after radiotherapy and it has been absolutely wonderful - it is now soft and smooth and I am so pleased; I would never have used it if I hadn't read about it from Susun Weed.
During radiation, I was asked to stop doing vitamins lest they protect the cancer cells along with the others, but I was told that it would be ok to do wheat grass juice and green-drink supplements.  I did those along with bodywork plus intense, different-colored lights (a friend of mine is a massage therapist who uses light therapy), and they were astonished at how well my breast did.  When I later did vitamin-c infusions, the scar virtually vanished.  On subsequent follow-up visits to the radiologist, she was constantly amazed.  I know the thrill of doing better than they dreamed possible. (grin)  Go GIT 'em, girl!
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Coping with Hormone Therapy

My biggest problem with the tamox is the hot flashes at night, which wake me up every 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, all night long. I have been in and out of chemopause/menopause since my original cancer diagnosis and chemo in 1990. That's 8 1/2 years! I have tried so many different things - both alternative and traditional.

I am now doing two things: drinking an infusion of oatstraw (idea from Susan Weed's book) and taking 5-HTP. The HTP seems to make my sleep deeper, so I wake up less frequently and manage sometimes to get 3 hours of sleep in a row! I also am going to try hesperidin, a bioflavonoid which I hear has been helpful for hot flashes.
>I had tried Clonodine (the pilsl) and they made my hands go to sleep at night

When I tried taking Clonodine, my hands would also fall asleep but I never related it to the drug until now.  I never experienced any pain though.
>I have been eating soy and staying away from chocolate (this is hard for a chocoholic such as myself), caffeine,
>spicy foods, etc.

You and me both.  I'm learning to use carob powder in place of the chocolate but it's not the same.
The hot flashes seem to be cyclic - some weeks they are worse than others and come about every two hours, but are not as bad as they used to be.  My hair would drip from them.
My flashes were every 45 to 60 minutes.  The only way I could sleep at night was to have a fan blowing on me continuously.
Not only is Pro-Gest cream safe but it is recommended for b.c. survivors.  A good book to read is "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause" by Dr. John R. Lee. The Pro-Gest cream really helped me at first but seems to have worn off somewhat.  I'm trying to regulate the amount I use to see if that makes a difference.
I went off Tamoxifen mainly because I needed relief from the flashes which were really interfering with my quality of life.  I never felt good about taking the drug and I was afraid of what harm it might be doing to my body. I opted to take calcium D glucarate instead which has no known side effects.

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Just Coping!

You do the best you can with the info you have at the time, you don't gamble any more than you feel you can afford to lose if it doesn't work, and you forgive yourself your mistakes both before you make 'em and afterwards. If there's a better way to deal with this stuff, I don't know it.
I am grateful to this list and the Mets list I am on, because here is where I can talk about my cancer. Then, I can have the rest of my life, without feeling so misunderstood....because if you haven't been there, it's just alien for most people. Someone once told me "One can only experience another's pain to the depths to which they have experienced their own." Most people here have been in some pretty deep waters.

Please see the information at the top of the page about our Meditation sessions. Using Visual Imagery can also be very helpful.


I always recommend Reiki to anyone who is finding things tough emotionally. Other relaxing, personalised treatments will be good too.


Talk, share. Use the mailing list to vent your frustrations, get ideas on how to deal with things, find someone who has been through similar situations. You are not alone!


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