It’s a disease that will affect one in two people at some point in their lives.
And going through treatment for cancer is an incredibly emotional time – not just for the person diagnosed but for their loved ones too.
Hair loss as a result of chemotherapy, cancer fatigue and loss of appetite are all common side effects that can take their toll both physically and mentally.
But there are lesser known symptoms of battling the disease that people are sometimes unaware of - such as ‘chemo brain’, painful skin issues, sleep problems, changes to taste buds, as well as the impact on sex lives.
Here, we reveal ways to make fighting the disease easier for patients and their caretakers.
Whether you’re spending time in hospital having treatment or surgery, or recovering at home, what you wear is important.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause hot flashes and irritated skin.
Wearing loose, breathable material made from cotton or bamboo is ideal - as is getting a good night’s sleep.
Bed sheets made from such material could help with irritated skin, insomnia and night sweats.
Hospital appointments, treatment and check-ups can mean having to remove clothing often, which can be uncomfortable.
Try bras that promote quick healing.
After undergoing surgery to remove one or both breasts due to cancer, recovering patients need to wear clothes and underwear for comfortable and quick healing.
PREPARE FOR HAIR LOSS
Losing hair is a common side effect of cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy, as it destroys the follicles.
But there are ways to start preparing for it. As well as talking to family and friends, buy wigs and headwear before your treatment starts, so you can match it to your hair colour and style.
But most of all you’ll want comfort - and that’s where, surprisingly, a Bamboo hat is a miracle worker. Not only does this amazing material help regulate the temperature, it’s also breathable, draws moisture away from your scalp and is also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal - and most importantly, incredibly soft to help with skin sensitivity during treatment.
BE KIND TO YOUR SKIN
Dryness, scaliness, itchiness and weak fingernails are all debilitating side effects of cancer.
The conditions could be down to the body’s reaction to the disease, or a symptom of treatment, such as chemotherapy.
Help to reduce the irritation by using moisturisers throughout the day - and make sure to buy organic or eco products that aren’t laden with chemicals.
GIVE YOUR BRAIN A WORK OUT
‘Chemo brain’ is the term used to describe the mental ‘fogginess’ experienced by people who have undergone treatment for cancer.
Having difficulty remembering facts or getting confused easily are very common side effects, although scientists still don’t know the exact reason why.
Writing things down and talking to loved ones about it can help - as can keeping the mind ACTIVE.
EAT WELL TO FEEL WELL
It’s important to eat well with cancer, as it can help at every stage of treatment.
But one of the lesser-known side effects of having treatment for the disease is how it affects not just your appetite, but your taste buds too.
Look for healthy, hearty recipes to make you feel stronger - alongside stories of people who have already been through the battle themselves and how these dishes helped them feel better.
Most people who undergo chemotherapy have to cope with nausea and sickness - but it can also result in mouth sores, ulcers and pain that makes it difficult to eat.
Having a metallic taste in the mouth is also a side-effect many cancer patients experience – but there are ways to reduce this.