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Navigating Cancer Treatment: Top Tips from an Oncology Pharmacist

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

By Rafia Nasir



As an oncology pharmacist, I have four years of firsthand experience working with cancer patients. I provide guidance on chemotherapies, side effect management, and overall support. In this article, I will share some helpful tips for newly diagnosed cancer patients that I’ve learned through my years of experience.

  1. Emotional Intelligence: In relation to cancer treatment, emotional intelligence refers to one’s ability to identify, understand and manage one’s own emotions as well as others’ emotions while navigating cancer treatment. Mindfulness and meditation techniques, along with a strong support system that includes loved ones and your oncology team, can help you cope with stress and improve your overall well-being during cancer treatment. If you require additional support, seeking advice from a psychologist can be beneficial.

  2. Be Prepared to Share: Sharing your experiences or queries with doctors can help you receive proper care and effectively manage symptoms. If you’re concerned about forgetting relevant information to discuss during your doctor’s appointment, jot your questions down beforehand.

  3. Medication Adherence: Taking medications as prescribed is crucial for the best outcomes. Make sure you understand all your medications and each one’s purpose. Consider using a pill organizer or setting reminders on your phone to take oral medications.

  4. Manage Your Side Effects: Cancer treatment may cause different side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, skin or nail issues, and hair loss. Discuss with your oncology team how to manage symptoms through medications, diet, and exercise to maintain quality of life and treatment adherence.

  5. Stay Positive: Many studies have shown that positivity is strongly correlated with physical well-being. Staying positive can help improve your immunity, lower stress levels, and reduce inflammation in the body, which allows you to battle disease much more effectively. Some examples include connecting with supportive people, finding meaning in life through hobbies, volunteering or spending time with loved ones, expressing gratitude and staying focused on what you can control, such as sticking to treatment plans and practicing self-care.

  6. Be Your Own Advocate: You have the right to participate in your own care. Be proactive, speak up, and ask questions. Your input is crucial for the best treatment plan.

  7. Financial Aid: You can explore various options such as government programs and non-profit organizations to alleviate the financial burden of cancer treatment.

  8. Managing Appearance Changes: During chemotherapy, you may experience skin and nail changes, hair loss, and weight changes. Self-care practices including maintaining personal hygiene, wearing comfortable and stylish clothing, and using makeup or accessories can help you manage some of these changes. You can also seek assistance from your oncology team in coping with them.

  9. Fitness and Physical Activity: Regular exercise or physical activity during cancer treatment may improve your physical and emotional well-being and help you cope with certain side effects. You can also ask your oncology team to refer you to a suitable physical therapist, which can be helpful in your healing process from treatment.

  10. Eating Mindfully: Maintaining a healthy diet and adequate nutrition is imperative during cancer treatment to support the body’s ability to heal and cope with side effects. A registered dietitian can help you create a personalized nutrition plan.

By following these tips, you can make informed decisions and manage your treatment effectively. Remember, cancer treatment is a journey, and by taking care of yourself and seeking support, you can navigate it easier.



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Author bio:


Rafia Nasir holds a Pharm-D degree and has extensive clinical and oncology experience. She worked for four years as a clinical pharmacist in medical oncology at an ISO-certified military hospital in Pakistan. Her experience as a clinical pharmacist helps her understand cancer treatment and the importance of individualized care.

She currently works as a medical writer covering cancer treatment and research. By leveraging her clinical experience, she is able to translate complex medical information into patient-friendly language to help patients better understand their disease and treatment options. Through her work, she aims to bridge the gap between medical expertise and patient understanding.

With a strong focus on patient education, she is committed to helping patients and their caregivers tackle cancer treatment complexities with confidence and hope.



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