There are natural ways to soothe and support your body through chemo
In early 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. There really is no comparison to the feeling of being told that diagnosis … except I felt like I was in the middle of a landslide, trying to grasp at any possible thing to stop the overwhelming feeling of helplessness.
One of the main things that allowed me to take deep breaths and begin to take back some control in my life and in my treatment. There are so many things that come with a diagnosis like this – and so much is out of your control. Surgeries, tests, chemotherapy, radiation – all of it is part of the puzzle you are dropped into. Either you choose to follow, or you choose to read and inform yourself a little bit. Being able to be a part of the conversation and choose options for me, because I was informed and could at least ask informed questions, empowered me.
I remember sitting on my back deck getting the news from my Nurse Navigator (basically a patient advocate) – when she told me I would most likely be headed down the treatment path I eventually did follow. All I could think about was five months of chemo. FIVE. How in the world was I going to maintain any normalcy for myself, my husband and my kids for five months? Especially when everyone just wanted to focus on ‘how sick I would be’?
Enter the shirt that I have on in the blog pic. You see, my chemo treatments were on Monday, and started the first week of June. I wore this shirt to remind me that every day is precious, and that Mondays were just a day.
So I made up my mind that I was going to do everything in my power to walk a different path than the one focused on sickness instead of wellness. I knew chemo wasn’t negotiable for me (and that’s another story and struggle), so if this was the path I should take, then I would do my best to help my body stay well amidst the storm of toxic meds.
I saw both my oncologist and my naturopathic oncologist before, during and after my treatment phases. All of the things I put into my protocol and routine were things I discussed with them. It was important to me to be honest and assure that we were all on the same page. I was so thankful that my ‘team’ and I could be in agreement moving forward.
So, here’s quite a bit of what I did while actively having chemotherapy. (My radiation protocol will be in another post!) Remember, we are all different. But, I am happy to share my path, and hope that it helps others in their journey. And I truly do hope that at least some of my words or recipes help others in their journeys as well.
For reference, I had four infusions of Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and cyclophosphamide combo (every other week), followed by ten weekly infusions of Taxol. I then moved on to Radiation, but that’s another post!
I do a drop of lemon in a large metal or glass water bottle – and try to drink a 100oz the two days before chemo, and then back down to 1/2 my body weight in oz for the rest of the days (those days I’d mix in sparkling water instead of flat- no sugar added just for the carbonation. That carbonation really helped me!
Intermittent and Extended Fasting:
During my chemo routine, I consistently practiced intermittent fasting with only a 6-8 hour eating window each day. I also did an extended fast the 48 hours prior to my chemo, where I would focus on fluids with only a small protein meal in the middle of the day, with little to no carbs. Usually if I did have carbs, they were a part of a smoothie with greens and berries, or just berries. The research I found not only emphasized that this approach helped the effectiveness of the chemo, but also helped on the nausea front as well.
Also, the day before chemo, and the day of chemo and usually at least two more days throughout the week, I do a detox bath: 2 cups Epsom, 1 cup baking soda in a large tub. Add into my favorite body wash: 3 drops juniper berry, 3 drops rosemary, and 3 drops lavender. Cilantro is a great option too. Soak & rehydrate! Find all those products here or at a wholesale discount here (with wholesale membership added in).
I also did liver packs throughout my chemo routine. What is a liver pack? It is essentially a small amount of castor oil applied to the skin over the liver. A piece of flannel or lightweight towel is layered over the castor oil, and a heating pad is applied on top. Castor oil provides tremendous benefit to the health of your liver. I made a salve because it was easier for me. So, I’ll just pop the recipe here, but you can use straight castor oil and nothing else if you’d like. Castor oil is messy and sticky, so be forewarned. The salve makes it a bit easier.
Liver Health Salve:
1/4 cup castor oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp of beeswax
Melt on low on the stove until combined and remove from heat.
Add 15 drops of zendocrine, and stir (NO PLASTIC) – pour into clean glass or metal container. Cool and cover.
Rub salve over liver (about a Tbsp), front and back. Lie on side and place a piece of flannel over the area and then cover with a heating pad. Lie and relax for forty-five minutes. This can be done daily.
** all of the above can be done for kidney & liver HEALTH. I feel strongly that this helped my labs consistently be beautiful. My doctor could not believe I was able to keep my numbers like a ‘non-chemo/healthy person’. Guess that’s a good thing!!
Again, not knowing what medication regimen your physicians are suggesting for you (anti-nausea), here was my experience and routine to combat and stay nausea free!
I did not eat sugar – or bread, pasta, rice, cereal, etc. I splurged on occasion and have something with my family, but often I would make my food just a little different and eat that. For instance, instead of pasta, I’ll roast veggies and put the sauce on that. I didn’t avoid dairy, but that was a personal choice, and it definitely wasn’t a huge part of my diet.
The two days before chemo I would do a modified fast where I lower my calorie intake, increase my water intake and focus on protein as my calories for the day. I wait to eat until about 10am if possible, and then I have a hard boiled egg and about 1/4 cup berries of some kind (low glycemic, tons of benefit). And/or I’ll have a coffee. I started in the beginning doing full-out bullet proof coffee instead of the egg right away, but I’ve found I cannot quite tolerate it anymore, so I’ll just have a coffee with full cream or coconut oil (blended with a drop of cassia) now.
Throughout the day, I would do natural beef jerky, almonds, and some cheese – along with a few more berries, but that’s it. I did this routine for both days as well as the morning of chemo. During chemo, try to eat and DRINK YOUR WATER- I don’t partake in the crap they have in my chemo bus station. I bring in my own food. I will bring apple slices (not the best from a sugar perspective, but seriously), berries, and I try to snack on other things that are healthy but sound good. We usually grab a veggie/fruit smoothie on the way home.
1/2 hour before chemo: I take a veggie cap and put two drops of peppermint and 2 drops of spearmint. You can also add a little olive oil as well if you’d like. Repeat this capsule in four hours and again in another four hours.
As soon as you can after getting home from your infusions, GO FOR A WALK. Make yourself. You’ll thank me I promise. Stay as active as you can other than your modalities. Stay as normal as you can, I promise it will help.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing throughout your day helps your lymph system flow and collect everything to excrete. And helps with moments of nausea if you have them.
I took one dose of zofran before bedtime the day of chemo with my Adriamycin/Cytoxin chemo. I don’t know if I needed it, but that was my routine. I did not take anything else, and was able to stay nausea-free throughout my entire chemo journey!
Keep up on your fiber.
Use your diffuser. Some great options to put in your diffuser are: sandalwood, wild orange, tangerine, bergamot, lavender, respiratory blend, or spearmint and peppermint. Keep up your exercise.
Roller bottle blend (this is high high high concentration, so I only use it the day of chemo and the day after but you can use it once daily). Apply to neck and stomach. Use a 10ml roller and fill remainder with grapeseed oil.
10 wild orange
My husband and I try to do aroma touch once a week (I did it more during A/C), and we have had huge benefits from the Symphony of the Cells protocols too. We can do a separate post on those options.
I would highly suggest keeping track of your routine. Give yourself the benefit of writing things down so you remember them later. I kept a couple notebooks to write everything down … from my routine, to questions to ask, to phone calls, to how I was feeling.