Do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to warm skin and damp sheets? Night sweats and hot flashes are a common occurrence with cancer patients. It can result from your course of treatment or from the tumor itself. Women tend to be more susceptible, but men can also experience either condition.
Sweat is your body’s natural way of regulating temperature. When the moisture evaporates on your skin it creates a cooling effect. Patients being treated for breast cancer or prostate cancer often have hot flashes because treatment can trigger menopause or menopause-like symptoms.
Help is available to control hot flashes and night sweats, allowing you to rest more comfortably. Discuss these options with your physician to determine which one is most appropriate for you.
In some cases hot flashes may be treated with hormone replacement therapy. Some patients have had success with certain antidepressants or anticonvulsants.
Stress and anxiety are contributing factors, so learning coping skills to deal with these emotions can help moderate night sweats and hot flashes. Meditation is a powerful method, and hypnosis is a newer treatment that has shown positive results.
Wear loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibers and keep your home well-ventilated.
Manufacturers of herbs and supplements such as Vitamin E and flaxseed make extravagant claims, but studies show that the results are mixed at best. Do not attempt this treatment without consulting your healthcare provider.
At Issels® we utilize a course of immunotherapy that strengthens your own immune system and reduces side effects. Visit our website to see and hear success stories from our patients.
When a family member or friend is diagnosed with cancer, people are often torn about how to respond. They want to help but are sensitive about intruding. Not knowing whether an offer of help will be appreciated or viewed as meddling often leads friends to make vague offers to help.
Unsure what kind of help is being offered, cancer patients and their families are frequently uncomfortable taking their friends up on such offers. As we noted in our previous post, making your offer to help specific can breach any feelings of discomfort.
Here are additional suggestions on ways to offer meaningful aid to a friend or family member who is battling cancer:
Follow through. Many offers of help follow the initial diagnosis of cancer; but for the cancer patient and his family the battle keeps going after those first few weeks. Don’t stop helping after a week or two. Friends who are still helping a month, 3 months, 6 months after the diagnosis make a real difference in the family’s life.
Don’t overstep. Helping does not give you license to manage your friend’s life or offer unsolicited advice. Be sensitive to the need for autonomy, especially if cancer strips away personal independence. Respect your friend’s boundaries.
Remember celebrations. Life does not stop because you have cancer. Remember holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, holiday traditions, etc. Celebrate life!
Be supportive. Check your own feelings, opinions and prejudices at the door. Respect your friend’s cancer treatment decisions. Maintain a warm, supportive, encouraging and positive attitude when you are with your friend and his or her family.