Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered through a vein, injected into a body cavity, or delivered orally in the form of a pill, depending on which drug is used.
Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells; unfortunately, it cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and some healthy cells. So chemotherapy eliminates not only the fast-growing cancer cells but also other fast-growing cells in your body, including, hair and blood cells.
Some cancer cells grow slowly while others grow rapidly. As a result, different types of chemotherapy drugs target the growth patterns of specific types of cancer cells. Each drug has a different way of working and is effective at a specific time in the life cycle of the cell it targets.
An undesirable consequence of chemotherapy affecting your body—not related to your cancer—is referred to as a complication of treatment, or a side effect. Some common side effects of chemotherapy are:
- Low white blood cell count
- Low red blood cell count
- Low platelet count
- Hair loss
For example, one of the most serious potential side effects of chemotherapy is a low count of infection-fighting white blood cells—a condition called neutropenia (new-troh-PEE-nee-ah). Neutropenia can interrupt your chemotherapy schedule and put you at risk for infections that may require hospitalization and may even be life-threatening.
I've read about some very interesting home remedies to help control side effects...somebody, in fact, mentioned sipping sweet tea in one of the comments today. Not that we'll actually try anything that isn't already OKed by Tricia's doctors, but just for fun, have you heard of or tried any strange home remedies to combat the side effects of cancer and/or chemo?