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6 Things They Don’t Tell You About Cancer

If you go online, you'll find thousands of articles giving you information on cancer. You would think that within all of those articles and papers, you'd be able to find out everything about cancer. So that nothing would be a surprise. But you would be wrong. While there's a lot of information off there, there's even more that's missing. Things that doctors, books and websites just won't mention, for one reason or another. But Jill wanted to share every aspect of her journey, warts and all, so we wanted to give you 6 bits of information or advice that other sources just won't.

The Fatigue Will Last A Long Time

One of the most common physical challenges cancer patients face is fatigue. Even before diagnosis, it can start to set in, as your body is fighting a daily battle against the cancer cells. That fatigue usually gets worse after treatment, with about 90% of patients experiencing that deep and prolonged fatigue. But that fatigue doesn't magically go away overnight. In fact, it can last for years! Around 30% of cancer patients report that they struggle with fatigue even two years after treatment. A lot of the things that cause the fatigue (like hypothyroidism, depression and low testosterone) are totally treatable, but you need to understand the what and why first!

Cancer hair loss

Your Hair May Change

If your treatment plan involves chemotherapy, then there's about a 65% chance you'll experience hair thinning or hair loss. That much is common knowledge. But what people don't mention is that once treatment is over and your hair starts to grow back, it may not be the same hair you remember. Post-Chemo hair can be a different type or even colour than it was before. Many people experience 'chemo curls' where their hair grows back curly, even if it was pin-straight before. Brown hair can turn blonde, and we’ve even seen accounts of pubic hair growing back in a totally different colour to the rest of the hair! This happens because the chemo drugs can stay in your system for a while, changing the way your hair follicles behave.

You'll Sleep Differently

This isn't just that you'll lie in a different way though some patients who have had ports may get used to sleeping in different positions). But more on your general sleep habits. A lot of things can cause a cancer patient to have trouble with sleep, One of the most common is anxiety, which causes racing thoughts that struggle to drift off at night. Many cancer patients also develop sleep disorders, like sleep apnoea, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you're having any problems with your sleep during or after treatment, let your doctors know and they can offer you some support.

Your Body May Change

Cancer body changes

Body changes are some of the most common side effects of both cancer and chemotherapy. Some of them, like hair loss, you might know about and be able to prepare for, while others can hit you out of left field. For example, your weight will fluctuate throughout your journey, and you'll gain and lose weight depending on what's going on. Your skin may change, you may experience eczema and your nails may crack. Depending on the type of cancer and treatment you have, you may end up with an ostomy, large scars or a removed breast. All of these changes can be incredibly difficult to go through, especially if you aren't prepared for them. Talk to your doctor, seek out support groups and reach out to friends to help you process the emotions that come with these changes - and remember that it's OK to grieve what your body used to be.

Treatment Can Have After-Effects

Often cancer survivors aren't aware of the potential late and long-term effects that treatment can have. While they are rare, they can be serious, so you need to know about them to look out for warning signs and make any appropriate lifestyle adjustments.

For example, heart disease occurs nearly twice as often in cancer survivors than in the general population, so you will need to be more aware of your cardiovascular health. Sexual function and fertility can also be affected by cancer treatments, which means you may want to consider fertility preservation before you start treatment. You could also experience something called peripheral neuropathy, which is numbness in the hands and feet. It affects around I in 3 cancer patients and it's easily treated, but it can be scary if you don't know what it is.

None of these things should stop you from seeking appropriate treatment. But you should be aware of the potential effects.

Everyone Has A Cancer Story

You will be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't been touched by cancer in some way. Either by having it themselves, or knowing someone who has. And if they are the latter, they will probably let you know. Everyone wants to tell you the story of the person they know who had it, beat it and died. We're not exaggerating here - this will happen. And when it does, don't be afraid to ask them to stop. Sometimes hearing these stories can be helpful, but most of the time they will do nothing but induce anxiety and stress. So speak up, and redirect the conversation.

Everyone's cancer journey is different, so you might only experience some of these things. Or all of them. Or none of them! Whatever your experience, Jills' Fundraising Journey is here to provide you with an escape with one of our free holidays. want to know more? Click the contact button.


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