Chemotherapy is the double-edged sword many cancer patients dread. Patients are told they must undergo chemotherapy to save their lives, but the side effects of chemo can be so traumatic that patients frequently wonder if life with chemo is worth living. Many of these patients are finding that alternative cancer treatments can offer similar results without chemotherapy’s devastating side effects.
Chemo’s Toll on the Body
The problem with chemotherapy is that it cannot discriminate between cancerous and healthy cells. Inside your body, chemo’s toxic chemicals target fast-growing cells, both cancerous and healthy. In the process, many healthy cells are killed or damaged.
Chemotherapy’s impact on the body can be felt from head to toe, as Healthline’s infographic illustrates. From hair loss and chemo brain to sexual dysfunction and infertility to swollen feet and extreme fatigue, chemotherapy’s side effects are as dreaded as the disease it is designed to treat.
Pain without Gain
What makes the decision to undergo chemotherapy even more difficult for cancer patients is the lack of guarantee that the suffering will retard their cancer. Both patients and cancers can develop resistance to chemotherapy, making it an ineffective treatment choice. When traditional medicine fails to offer patients alternative treatment options, they are forced to suffer for nothing.
Types of immunotherapy
Immunotherapy fights cancer in one or two ways, by stimulating your immune system as a whole to attack cancer, or by giving you specific immune system components, such as man-made or lab grown immune proteins, providing more targeted therapy. Immunotherapy may also be referred to as biologic or biotherapy.
Key players starring in your immunotherapy arsenal include:
Intelligence agents alerting your immune system and strategizing attacks against cancer.
CD4 & Helper T-Cells
Commandants directing and coordinating the cancer response.
Munitions factories churning out antibodies.
CD8 & Killer T-Cells
The assassins of cancer cells.
Communicate and help coordinate attacks.
Ammunition, seeking out and binding to cancer cells to mark them for attack.
Checks and balances your immune system, preventing damage to healthy cells.
The future of cancer therapy is happening now
In the last few decades, immunotherapy has become an important part of many cancer treatments. It is expected to be a key player in the future of cancer therapy, with many new treatments under study.
Want to learn more about the future of cancer therapy what immunotherapy has to offer you? Contact Issels today.
Take tissues if you go see the new hit movie The Fault in Our Stars. The story of two teens with cancer who fall in love has a few weepy moments sandwiched between the romance, self-discovery and laughs. A faithful retelling of John Green’s best-selling young adult novel, the movie faithfully portrays the emotional highs and lows of teens trying to cope with cancer while struggling to live a normal life. (Click here to watch the trailer.)
Hazel and Gus, played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, meet at a cancer support group. She has thyroid cancer, is depressed and must drag around an oxygen canister, an ever-present reminder of cancer’s life-shortening reality and the fact that she is different from the other teens at her high school. He is a basketball star who lost a leg to osteosarcoma but, now 18 months in remission, chooses to celebrate life.
Gus’ ebullient outlook is the perfect antithesis to Hazel’s dour view of life with cancer. While ultimately heartbreaking as childhood cancer often is, their summer romance is a story of hope and overcoming fear as they plunge into life with teenage abandon. Without the specter of cancer lurking in the wings, The Fault in Our Stars might have been merely another sweet teen romance on the summer movie circuit. But the threat that cancer will bring young hopes and dreams to an abrupt halt elevates the movie, reminding us that life is short and should be embraced and lived.
Faced with a cancer diagnosis, the biggest fear among many patients is losing their hair. There are however alternatives to losing your full head of hair. Cool Caps during chemotherapy and fashion and designer wigs are just two great choices. One respected wig source for chemotherapy patients provides an extensive collection of designer medical wigs specially designed to cradle the sensitive scalps of chemotherapy patients while giving them confidence in their appearance.
Heartbreaking Hair Loss
For many cancer patients, hair loss is the most emotionally devastating side effect of chemotherapy. Our hair is such an important part of our self-image that losing it can be heartbreaking, shattering our sense of attractiveness. In most cases, hair grows back within a year, but it may not look or feel the way it did before.
Chemo Can Change Hair Quality
After chemotherapy, many patients find that when their hair grows back it has changed in texture, fullness and sometimes even color. After waiting so long to look like your old self again, the changes to your hair can be another disappointing blow. A beautifully styled wig can not only restore your confidence in your appearance and give you a huge emotional boost during chemotherapy, it can also allow you to return to the look and hair style you loved before cancer. In other words, if nature doesn’t cooperate, a beautiful fashion wig can make you feel beautiful again!
Chemo Wig Tips
If you are a chemotherapy patient, use these tips from the experts to choose the right medical wig for you:
Choose a light-weight wig that won’t place too much pressure on your tender scalp.
Baby your tender scalp by choosing a wig that is soft to the touch.
Choose a monofilament wig for its superior breathability.
It could be that conventional cancer treatment is not the “right” path for you and you would like to consider alternative cancer treatment options. At Issels, patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment will typically not experience hair loss. Other options including cancer vaccines and our immunobiologic core program boost your immune system to fight your cancer without the side effects of toxic medication. If you would like to find out about treatment options that have no dreaded side effects such as hair loss, we invite you to visit the Issels website to find out more about our specialized advanced cancer treatments that are kinder to your body.
Others may see a cancer patient’s bald head as a badge of courage, but hair loss is the chemotherapy side effect cancer patients fear most. Our hair is such an integral part of our self-image that losing it is a traumatic experience.
Not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, but many do. Hair loss typically begins a few weeks after chemotherapy begins and can range from mild thinning to total baldness. Hair usually grows back in 3 to 10 months; but it may be a different texture, fullness or color. Hair may also grow back unevenly, looking thin or patchy.
Why Does Chemo Cause Hair to Fall Out?
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to attack fast-growing cancer cells. Unable to differentiate between cancer and other fast-growing cells in the body — such as hair cells — these chemicals kill everything. And chemotherapy doesn’t just affect the hair on your head. Eyebrows, beards and body hair may disappear.
Can You Prevent Chemo Hair Loss?
There is little that can be done to prevent chemo hair loss. Applying minoxidil (Rogaine) to the scalp has not been shown to prevent hair loss but may encourage faster hair re-growth. Scalp cooling is another strategy for preventing hair loss (read one woman’s story), but results have been mixed.
The only sure way to prevent chemo hair loss is to avoid chemotherapy. Integrative immunotherapy is a holistic approach to cancer treatment that does not result in hair loss or produce the other painful and dreaded side effects associated with chemotherapy. Working with, not against your body, immunotherapy empowers your immune system to fight cancer naturally. Visit our website to find out more.
One in every 640 adults between the ages of 20 and 39 is a childhood cancer survivor, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine. About 70% of those cancer survivors will experience serious, life-altering health problems as adults that are directly related to their cancer battle and, more often, the cancer treatment they underwent decades ago. To these childhood cancer survivors it seems a cruel twist of fate that cancer up-ends their lives not once, but twice.
A recent University of Florida study on the long-term effects of childhood cancer found that many survivors suffer physical, mental or social effects as adults that can drastically impair daily function and quality of life. Working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Florida researchers analyzed data from 1,667 childhood cancer survivors.
According to a report on Medical News Today, “The most common symptoms the survivors reported were head pain, back and neck pain, pain in other parts of the body, sensation abnormalities, and disfigurement” (such as hair loss). Other symptoms included heart problems, lung problems, mobility issues, learning and memory issues, depression and anxiety. Seventy percent of childhood cancer survivors reported at least one negative adult-onset symptom with 25% reporting six or more. With each additional symptom, survivors reported a noticeable decrease in their quality of life.
It is possible that using integrated immunotherapy to bolster the immune system during and after childhood cancer treatment, either as a primary treatment or with traditional treatment may decrease adult-onset symptoms for childhood cancer survivors. There may also be benefit in continuing immunotherapy treatments beyond initial cancer treatment to optimize immune system benefits throughout life.