13 of the Most Common Chemo and Radiation Side Effects (+ How to Get Relief)

11 Comments
Hiya Gorgeous!

In the last 6 months alone, so many people I know and love have been diagnosed with cancer. I’ve hopped on more emergency calls than I can count and this experience has reminded me of just how much we need each other—especially when we’re facing surgery and treatments (and the chemo and radiation side effects that often come with them).

Of course, your doctors will give you advice and so will the incredible nurses who care for you. But you don’t really know until you go through it. That’s why patients supporting patients—and that insight from the trenches—is so valuable.

Introducing the Cancer Therapies Toolkit

Though I’ve never had traditional treatments for my disease, my dad has had many. As a result of his experience, my own research, as well as input from some of the integrative doctors and experts I trust, my team and I created this Cancer Therapies Toolkit. If you or someone you know is going through treatments, we hope this resource makes it a little easier.

Cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation can be life-extending and life-saving. But they come with side effects. Some occur as soon as treatment begins, while others hit weeks later because of the cumulative effects of chemo medications or exposure to radiation. And some radiation side effects crop up and stick around for months or even years after treatment is over.

These side effects can be painful, disruptive and frustrating, especially when you’re trying to focus all of your energy on healing, but the Cancer Therapies Toolkit is here to help.

Your guide to relief from chemo and radiation side effects

When I set out to create this resource, I knew it had to be in-depth and cover as many side effects as possible. And now I’m thrilled to say that it covers 13 of the most common radiation and chemotherapy side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss and taste changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore mouth and mouth sores
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Neuropathy
  • Skin irritation

You’ll find a variety of helpful tips (over 50!) for relief from each of these chemo and radiation side effects in the toolkit. I hope they help you and your loved ones navigate treatment with a little more ease.

I’ve also included recipes for three delicious green drinks packed with cancer-fighting nutrients, healthy calories to boost your energy and help maintain a healthy weight (especially helpful if you’re dealing with appetite loss, nausea, taste changes or other side effects that make getting enough calories a challenge), and lots of other healing goodies.

Dispelling common cancer treatment myths

I can’t wait for you to dive in, but before you do, I want to give you a couple of important reminders and dispel some pervasive myths about cancer therapies.

“Natural” doesn’t always mean “safe”

There are some well-intentioned people who might send the message that you’re failing if you use traditional therapies, and that you should be able to cure yourself without them. Please be careful and tender with yourselves. In my opinion, that idea can be dangerous.

While natural healing is absolutely possible, and there are many incredible stories of patients who have taken their healing into their own hands, the common through line of those examples is often the willingness to take comprehensive and extremely consistent action with diet, stress reduction, adjunct integrative therapies, targeted supplementation, regular exercise and more. Not everyone has the willingness or ability to commit to this kind of lifestyle change and of course there are no guarantees. With that in mind, the combination of conventional treatments and natural (or integrative) therapies may provide the most cancer-fighting power, especially if your disease is aggressive.

Always check with your doc and get a second opinion if you have any doubts about your treatment course. Just understand that your oncologist probably doesn’t know much about integrative modalities, which is why you’ll want to work with holistic caregivers for diet and lifestyle support.

In the end, go with your gut, do what’s best for you and do it as full-out as possible. Also, keep in mind that there are cutting edge integrative ways to deliver traditional cancer treatments. In fact, there’s no one I recommend more on the subject than Keith Block, M.D. He’s known as the father of integrative oncology and his work is remarkable. Check him out here. Get his book, Life Over Cancer, here.

And if you decide to forgo treatments, please work with a qualified integrative doctor who specializes in supporting cancer patients, like Dr. Block. You may also want to keep monitoring your condition so you track your progress along the way.

Eating healthy doesn’t preserve cancer cells

Next up, I know that some folks in our community are concerned that eating healthy during chemotherapy and radiation therapy will preserve cancer cells. There’s also a misconception that the antioxidants found in fruits and veggies may prevent chemo drugs from effectively killing off cancer cells. Several scientific reviews have found that antioxidant-rich diets not only enhance treatment outcomes, but actually increase survival time and tumor responses if consumed during therapies (more in this article). So, don’t be afraid to load up on those plant foods—they’ll help you now and will support better health in the long run!

But there are some foods you should avoid during cancer treatment

There are some healthy foods, herbs and supplements that are discouraged during chemotherapy and radiation because of the way they interact with or counteract medications. One is St. John’s Wort, which is typically taken for depression and anxiety. Steer clear of this one during your treatment as it may decrease the effectiveness of chemo drugs.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may also be problematic as they can either increase or decrease the absorption of medications taken by mouth. Check with your doc to see if you can include grapefruit in your diet. Also, supplemental vitamin E, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids can have a blood thinning effect, which can be problematic if your platelet level is low.

And finally, supplemental copper can result in angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation) to a cancerous lesion. Work with your integrative doc if you’re currently taking supplemental copper, especially if you’re taking an angiogenesis inhibitor as part of your chemotherapy regimen.

We’re in this together

The Cancer Therapies Toolkit is the most extensive, in-depth resource on cancer I’ve ever given away for free. Please share it with someone who might benefit from this knowledge. Together we can help people all over the world find some relief.

I hope the toolkit gives you the comfort, guidance and practical advice you need right now. And please remember that no matter what you’re facing, you are a strong, sensational, resilient, one-of-a-kind soul. Cancer can’t take that away from you.

One last tip before I turn it over to you: Bless your treatment. Fill it with your love and light. Imagine it healing your body. Picturing it restoring your health. Imbue it with your positive energy. That’s some of the best medicine around.

Tips for relief from chemo and radiation side effects

Your turn: What side effects have you (or your loved one) faced during cancer treatment and how have you found relief? Let’s share ideas and support each other in the comments below!

Peace & healing,

Kris Carr

P.S. Want more cancer tips?

My first book, Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, covers everything from choosing an oncologist and building an all-star medical team, to navigating your social life and your kitchen post-diagnosis. It’s a must-have resource for patients, thrivers, survivors and caregivers alike—pick it up here!