Tuesday, July 10, 2018

If You're About to Become a Cancer Caregiver

 Caregiver is defined here as the person who most often helps the person with cancer and is not paid to do so. ... Good, reliable caregiver support is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of people with cancer(Web Source)
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In most cases, the main (primary) caregiver is a spouse, partner, parent, or an adult child. When family is not around, close friends, co-workers, or neighbors may fill this role. The caregiver has a key role in the patient’s care. Good, reliable caregiver support is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of people with cancer.
Today, most cancer treatment is given in outpatient treatment centers – not in hospitals. This means someone is needed to be part of the day-to-day care of the person with cancer and that sicker people are being cared for at home. As a result, caregivers have many roles. These roles change as the patient’s needs change during and after cancer treatment.
Caregivers serve as home health aides and companions. They may help feed, dress, and bathe the patient. Caregivers arrange schedules, manage insurance issues, and provide transportation. They are legal assistants, financial managers, and housekeepers. They often have to take over the duties of the person with cancer, and still meet the needs of other family members.
On top of the normal day-to-day tasks, such as meals, cleaning, and driving or arranging transportation, as a caregiver, you’ll also become an important part of the cancer care team. This busy schedule could leave you with no time to take care of your own needs. You also may feel the need to turn down job opportunities, work fewer hours, or even retire early to meet the demands of being a caregiver.
Here are some things to think about if you are about to become a caregiver for a person with cancer.
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What does it feel like to be a caregiver?

Despite the sadness and shock of having a loved one with cancer, many people find personal satisfaction in caring for that person. You may see it as a meaningful role that allows you to show your love and respect for the person. It may also feel good to be helpful and know that you’re needed by a loved one.
You might find that caregiving enriches your life. You might feel a deep sense of satisfaction, confidence, and accomplishment in caring for someone. You may also learn about inner strengths and abilities that you didn’t even know you had, and find a greater sense of purpose for your own life.
The caregiving role can open up doors to new friends and relationships, too. Through a support group, you can get to know people who have faced the same kinds of problems. Caregiving can also draw families together and help people feel closer to the person who needs care.
Caregiving can also be frustrating and painful. People caring for very sick patients may notice their own feelings of severe sadness and emotional distress. They may feel sadness and grief over their loved one’s illness and may also feel overwhelmed or frustrated as they try to manage many difficult problems.
Caregivers can develop physical symptoms, like tiredness and trouble sleeping. This is more likely to be a problem for caregivers who aren’t able to get the support they need, and who don’t take care of themselves – especially those who try to press forward alone, even as their own quality of life suffers.
Caring for someone going through cancer treatment can be demanding, but being good at it can give you a sense of meaning and pride. These good feelings can help provide the strength and endurance to continue in the role for as long as needed.

What if you don't want to be the caregiver?

It’s quite normal to feel overwhelmed, burdened, and even trapped at times while caregiving. If your family has had troubled relationships in the past, you may wonder “why me?” You may feel that the caregiver role was dumped on you without your consent. You may feel unprepared or even unable to manage the responsibilities and feelings that go with it. You may feel pressure from family members, friends, and members of the cancer care team to provide care, despite having little or no desire or ability to do so.
If you became a caregiver because of other people’s wishes, you need to think about how you feel about being pressured into caregiving. Mixed feelings at the onset of this role can lead to a greater sense of frustration later on. You should decide on your limits and make them known as soon as you can – before the demands of caregiving become a problem. It’s not easy to do this when others resist the change, and it can take a lot of courage to do it. If you know you’re going to meet with resistance, talk with the patient’s team social worker first. Or you can ask their doctor about a referral so you can talk with someone about the caregiver problem.
Addressing the problems early can help you and the patient get the help you need, and if you have to, make other plans for care. In situations like this, it might be helpful to find someone to help you with caregiving so that you know from the start that the role will be shared. It also may be better to find someone else to act as the primary (main) caregiver.

You’ll need to take care of yourself, too

It’s hard to plan for a major health problem like cancer. Suddenly you’ve been asked to care for the person with cancer, and you’re also needed to help make decisions about medical care and treatment. None of this is easy. There will be times when you know you’ve done well, and times when you just want to give up. This is normal.
There are many causes of stress and distress in cancer caregivers. Dealing with the crisis of cancer in someone you love, the uncertain future, financial worries, difficult decisions, and unexpected and unwanted lifestyle changes are just a few of them. Fear, hopelessness, guilt, confusion, doubt, anger, and helplessness can take a toll on both the person with cancer and the caregiver. And while the focus tends to be on the patient, all of this will affect your physical and mental health, too.


Depression is common in caregivers. But caregiving does not always cause depression and not all caregivers have the difficult emotions that go with depression. Everyone has emotional ups and downs, but if a person always feels down, has no energy, cries a lot, or is easily angered, it may be a warning sign of depression.
Many people see the feelings of depression as a sign of weakness rather than a sign that something is out of balance, but ignoring or denying these feelings won’t make them go away. Early attention to symptoms of depression can make a big difference in how the caregiver feels about their role and how well they can do the things they need to do.
There are ways to help reduce stress and remind you to enjoy life. They might help prevent a more serious depression that can develop over time:
  • Support from family and friends in caring for the patient
  • Exercise
  • A healthy diet
  • Spiritual support, such as religious activity, prayer, journaling, or meditation
  • Recreational time, when you can enjoy friends socially
  • Help from a trained mental health professional
But caregivers often focus on the person with cancer and don’t take care of themselves. You may be a caregiver, but you still have your own needs that cannot and should not be put aside.

Plan things that you enjoy

There are 3 types of activities that you need to do for yourself:
  • Those that involve other people, such as having lunch with a friend.
  • Those that give you a sense of accomplishment, like exercising or finishing a project.
  • Those that make you feel good or relaxed, like watching a funny movie or taking a walk.
Make an effort to notice and talk about things you do as they happen during the day. Watch the news or take time to read the morning paper. Set aside time during the day, like during a meal, when you do not talk about illness.
If you are concerned about your well-being, also see the Distress Checklist for Caregivers, and the Coping Checklist for Caregivers.

Getting professional help if you think you need it

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes by caregiver responsibilities. But if it becomes a constant problem, you may need to see a mental health professional. Below is a list of serious signs of trouble. Get professional help if you:
  • Feel depressed, physically sick, or hopeless
  • Feel like hurting yourself or hurting or yelling at the people you care for
  • Depend too heavily on alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Fight with your spouse, children, stepchildren, or other family members and friends
  • Are no longer taking care of yourself

Take a break or time for yourself

Most caregivers hesitate to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities, even for a short time. In fact, most would probably feel guilty if they did this. But no one can be a caregiver every day, 24 hours a day, for many months and even years. Try to get out of the house and away from your loved one every day – even if it’s only to take a short walk or shop for food. If you can’t leave the patient alone and don’t have friends or family to relieve you, you might want to look into getting help from respite caregivers.
Respite care
Respite care is the term used to describe short-term, temporary relief for those who are caring for family members who might otherwise need professional care. Respite is a short break from the exhausting challenges of being a caregiver. It’s been shown to help keep family caregivers healthy and improve their sense of well-being.
In most cases, the respite caregiver comes to the home and gets to know the patient, the family routine, and things like where medicines are stored. Sitter-companion services are one respite option. This is sometimes offered by local civic groups, church or religious groups, and other community organizations. A regular sitter-companion can provide friendly respite care for a few hours, once or twice a week. Be sure that the sitter-companion knows what to do if there’s an emergency while the caregiver is gone.
Another type of respite uses a specialized, local facility where the patient may stay for a few days or even a few weeks. This gives the caregiver a chance to take a vacation from caregiving and catch their breath, whether or not they leave town.
Depending on your state, Medicaid or Medicare may help cover respite costs. Also check with the patient’s health insurance to see what kind of respite help might be offered.

Know what you can’t do

Most importantly, don’t try to do it all yourself. Caregiving alone for any period of time is not realistic. Reach out to others. Involve them in your life and in the things you must do for your loved one.
Some caregivers feel they have to do it all alone. They may believe that, as the partner, sibling, son, or daughter they’re responsible for the sick loved one. It’s painful for them to admit that they can’t do it all and still keep their own health and sanity. They’ll bend over backward to meet their loved one’s every need. Some feel guilty if they can’t do it all and say they feel “selfish” if they ask for help.
Set realistic limits on what you can do. For instance, if you have a back injury, and/or if your loved one is too big for you to lift, you may be able to help them roll over in bed, but don’t try to lift them alone or catch them when they fall. (You may end up seriously injured or sick and become unable to help anyone.) There are ways you can safely help a person sit up or walk but you have to learn to do it without hurting yourself. This is where expert help is needed – home care nurses or physical therapists can show you how to do it safely. They can also help you get special equipment, if needed.
Your own health and safety must come first if you want to keep helping your loved one.
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    When you need help, reach out to others, including professionals. Talk with the cancer care team about what you’re doing and where you need help. Involve them in your life and your loved one’s care.

    Finding support for yourself

    The support of friends and family is key to both the person with cancer and the caregiver. There are many kinds of support programs, including one-on-one or group counseling and support groups. A support group can be a powerful tool for both people with cancer and those who care about them. Talking with others who are in situations like yours can help ease loneliness. You can also get useful ideas from others that might help you.
    Talk with a nurse or social worker or contact your local American Cancer Society to learn about services in your area. Talking with other caregivers can help you feel less alone. If you can’t visit a group in person, the American Cancer Society has the Cancer Survivors Network(CSN), an online community of people whose lives have been touched by cancer. Other organizations have internet-based groups and even online counseling, too. Through online or in person support groups, people can share their stories, offer practical advice, and support each other through shared experiences.
    Religion can be a source of strength for some people. Some members of the clergy are specially trained to help people with cancer and their families. People who are not religious may find spiritual support in other ways. Meditation, journaling, and being outside in nature are examples of different ways a person may feel they’re part of something greater than themselves.

    Ask others to help

    Caregivers need a range of support services to stay healthy, be good caregivers, and stay in the caregiving role. But they often don’t know where to go for help or how to accept help.
    Caregivers have been shown to have less distress and feel less burdened when they have social support. Human connections can help you stay strong. Let people know what you need and ask for help. You cannot and should not try to be responsible for all the caregiving by yourself.
    You need to know who you can talk to and count on for help. Families facing cancer can become stronger. If family members don’t offer help, or if you need more help than they can give you, you may be able to set up a circle of friends to help you. Church members, neighbors, and others may be willing to help. Include them in “family meetings.” Share information with them on the patient’s condition, needs, and care.
    Allowing others to help can take some of the pressure off and give you time to take care of yourself. Often family and friends want to help but may not know how or what you need. Here are some tips for including family and friends:
    • Look for situations where you need help. Make a list or note them on a calendar.
    • Hold regular family meetings to keep everyone involved. Use these meetings as updates and care-planning sessions. Include the patient.
    • Ask family and friends when they can help and what jobs they think they can do. You may also contact a person with a certain request. Be very clear about what you need.
    • As you hear back from each person, note it on your list to make sure they have taken care of what you needed.
    There are many online resources that can help you manage your job as caregiver. Some sites offer support for people caring for a loved one who has cancer. Other sites have features like group calendars to organize helpers and areas to create personal websites that concerned people can access for updates. MyLifeLine is one example.. Some of these also allow others to sign up for specific tasks when help is needed. Taking full advantage of the resources available to you is another way you can take care of yourself.

    Caring for your children during this time

    If you have young children, you’ll need to figure out how to take care of them and their needs while you’re caring for the person with cancer. Juggling children’s schedules and trying to keep their lives as normal as possible often requires a great deal more help from friends and family members. As you’re setting up care for the person with cancer, you might also need to tap into other parents and trusted friends and neighbors for help with your children.
    Children can sense stress in their family members and notice that there’s less time for them. They may start to have trouble in school or act like they did when they were younger. Even though your time is limited, you’ll need to take time to check in with them to learn about their fears and concerns.

    Being a caregiver and keeping your job

    Caregiving itself can be a full-time job, but many caregivers already have paying jobs. This can lead to work-related issues like missed days, low productivity, and work interruptions. Some caregivers even need to take unpaid leave, turn down promotions, or lose work benefits. The stress of caring for someone on top of worrying about keeping your job can be overwhelming. Dealing with these issues is important to both the employer and the employee.
    There will be times when there will be more demands on the caregiver, for instance, when the patient is diagnosed, getting cancer treatment, getting treatment for recurrence, or nearing the end of life. The employed caregiver may end up having to take time off from their paying job for caregiving.
    For people in certain types of jobs (temps, freelancers, consultants, entrepreneurs), this is very difficult. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. For those with traditional jobs in larger companies, there may be benefits to help you take time off and still keep your job.
    Some people find that there’s no one else to care for the cancer patient on a long-term basis, and cut back to working part time. Some feel that they have to quit their jobs entirely. If you need to keep your job but the interruptions and time off are creating problems, you might want to look into a different schedule to fit the times your loved one needs you most. Some companies allow you to take some paid leave if you are caring for a spouse or close relative. You might be able to work half-days or split shifts, or take one day a week off for doctor visits, for example.
    If you need some time away from work, speak with your boss or benefits office. If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program, look into what it offers. Some offer counseling services for money concerns, stress, and depression.
    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees up to 12 weeks off per year to take care of a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child). It only applies to larger companies, and not every employee qualifies for it. If you can’t or don’t want to stop working, you might be able to take unpaid time off under the FMLA.
    You may find that the people you work with treat you differently because of the time you must spend on caregiving tasks. This can affect you personally, as well as financially.

    Keeping your health insurance if you have to quit your job

    When caregivers quit their jobs, they usually lose their employer’s health insurance coverageas well as their source of income. It’s very important for you still to have some type of health care coverage. If you’re able to pay for your own insurance, COBRA will allow you to be covered for some months after you leave your job. Another option might be insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

    If you make mistakes

    No matter what you do, you will very likely come to a point where you feel that you’ve failed in some way. It seems obvious that as a caregiver, you do the best you can. You try to include the patient, other concerned family members, and close friends in important discussions. You always try to make decisions that are in the patient’s best interest – decisions that you and the patient can live with. But sometimes you’ll feel that you could have handled a situation better or done something a better way.
    At these times, it’s important not to blame yourself. Find a way to forgive yourself and move on. It helps to keep in mind that you will keep making mistakes, just like everyone else. Try to keep a sense of humor about it. And try to recognize those things that you do well, too. These things are often easy to overlook. It also helps to keep in mind why you chose to take on this often difficult and stressful job.
    As a caregiver, you have an important and unique role in helping your loved one through their cancer experience. The American Cancer Society can offer you information, resources, and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 any day and any time you need help for yourself or your loved one.

    To learn more (WEB SOURCE)

    We have a lot more information that you might find helpful. Explore www.cancer.org or call our National Cancer Information Center toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345. We’re here to help you any time, day or night.
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    What is caregiver stress and burnout? Web Source

    Taking care of another person can be stressful. Everyone has some stress, but too much can harm your health, relationships, and enjoyment of life. Caregiver stress happens when you don’t have time to do all that’s asked or expected of you. You may feel like no matter what you do it’s not enough, or like everything is on your shoulders. Caregiver burnout happens when you are in a state of stress or distress for a prolonged period of time. Caregiver stress and burnout can affect your mood, and make you feel tense, angryanxiousdepressed, irritable, frustrated, or fearful. It can make you feel out of control, unable to focus, unsatisfied with work, or lonely. Caregiver stress and burnout can also cause physical symptoms like sleep problems, muscle tension (back, shoulder, or neck pain), headaches, stomach problems, weight gain or lossfatigue, chest pain, heart problems, hair loss, skin problems, or a colds and infections. It can lead you to abuse alcohol or other substances.

    Get help from a healthcare provider if you are:

    What causes caregiver stress and burnout?

    These things can lead to caregiver stress or make it worse:
    • Fear & uncertainty: Cancer treatment isn’t certain. It’s hard not to worry about the person with cancer, and the future.
    • Shifting roles: Caregiving can change relationships. This isn’t bad. But, it can be upsetting when someone who has been a source of strength is suddenly vulnerable, or when you find yourself making decisions somebody else used to make.
    • Too much to do: As a caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed by all you have to do, and as though everything is falling on your shoulders.
    • Financial pressure: The costs of cancer care can be a source of stress. Also, you and the patient may be unable to work full-time—or at all.
    • Loneliness & isolation: Caregiving takes time. You may find you don’t have time to spend with friends, take part in outside activities, or pursue hobbies.
    • Little time alone: Everyone needs time for themselves. This can be difficult to get when you are caring for someone with cancer.
    • Constant demands: Being on call around-the-clock can be especially hard.
    • Guilt: You may feel bad that you can’t give more, or you may feel that you are short-changing other family members and friends.
    While all these things are common among caregivers, there are things your can do to lessen your stress.

    How can I deal with my stress and burnout?

    Here are some tips for dealing with your caregiver stress or burnout:
    • Recognize the warning signs of stress early. Never dismiss your feelings as "just stress."
    • Ask for help with caregiving and accept it! Make a list of everyone who may be able to help you out. Make a list of the things that can be done by other people like running errands. Then, ask others to do things for you.
    • Talk to someone—a friend, counselor, family member, or clergy member.
    • Talk to a professional if your stress is becoming a problem.
    • Take care of yourself. Eat well, drink enough water and other fluids, and try to get some exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. Get regular medical and dental checkup.
    • Identify sources of stress, and write them down. Think about the things you can improve. Try prayer and/or meditation to accept the things you can’t change.
    • Give yourself permission to grieve, cry and express your feelings.
    • Try meditation, yoga, music, or deep breathing to relax.
    • Join a support group like My Cancer Circle, which is especially for caregivers of people with cancer.
    • Focus on the positive. At the end of the day, make a list of the good things that have happened. Give yourself credit for what you’re doing. Forgive yourself when you don’t do things as well as you want. Remember that you are doing the best that you can.
    • Take time for yourself. Ask a friend or family member to stay with the patient or hire someone to give you time off to shop, go to a movie, or visit a friend.
    • Learn to say "no" when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, and/or that may be draining (like hosting a holiday meal).
    • Educate yourself. Get information from your doctor, the Internet, local library, book stores, or local support groups. This may help with feelings of uncertainty. You’ll find a list of valuable resources here.
    • Find someone who can help you understand all of the medical information. This could be a healthcare professional, someone in a support group, or someone who has been through the same thing. Keep a list of questions to discuss with the patient’s healthcare providers.
    • Make a list of priorities for each day. Set realistic goals.
    • Write about what you’re going through in a journal. This is especially helpful for feelings that you don’t want to share.
    • Try to plan for legal and financial matters. Planning now will lessen stress later. Involve other family members in these activities and decisions.

    When should I talk to my doctor?

    Call your doctor or 911 immediately if you feel like you could hurt yourself or someone else.
    Also, talk to your doctor if you are:

    Thursday, June 28, 2018

    What to bring to the hospital...

    After being diagnosed with cancer can be a crazy time in any persons life. Especially if you are about to have a hospital stay in the near future. What do I bring,  you may ask yourself. What does a cancer patient really need in the hospital?? This post may also help if you want to send a care package to a loved one in the hospital as well! 

    The basics that will make your hospital stay easier for you. 

    Reading Material

    This could be a book of poetry, an absorbing novel, a prayer book, magazines, or some other reading material – and it doesn’t have to be related to cancer. Think of this time as an opportunity to read that book that you didn’t have time for before.
    MusicLoad up your phone or iPod with your favorite music or download your favorite music streaming app, plug in your earbuds and lose yourself in the music. You may want to download a meditation or guided imagery CD. Some cancer centers have a music therapy program which provides an opportunity for distraction, self-expression, comfort, and support.
    GamesFind some fun game apps, download them to your tablet and bring your device. Many chemotherapy centers have wireless internet access, which allows you lots of time to sharpen your solitaire or Candy Crush skills. Or bring a board game like Scrabble to play with a friend or family member.
    Comfortable clothesMore than likely, you will be able to stay in the clothing you wear to the appointment. Think about wearing comfortable clothes, such as sweats or yoga pants. Also consider bringing a warm hat, or a cardigan or zip-up hoodie sweatshirt to slip on to keep your head warm. Sometime the infusion medicines can make you feel chilly. And you can never predict the temperature of the infusion room. Remember to wear layers of clothing that you can put on and take off and make sure they provide easy access to your port or your arm for the infusion.
    Pillow or blanketBring a small blanket or a special pillow. Then when you feel like resting you can be surrounded by things that bring you comfort. You can also ask your nurse for a warm blanket.

    Writing or drawing materials

    Some people use this quiet time to journal or write letters. Another similar relaxation is coloring. Bring your colored pencils or your markers and use the time to relax with your favorite coloring book. Other writing distractions include crosswords, Sudoku or word search puzzles. Or use the time to balance your check book, pay bills, write emails and organize your to-do list. This may be a good time to make a list of things your caregiver can do to help.
    Ask your nurse if the chemotherapy suites have a television with a DVD player. Bring your favorite movies or ask if they have movies on DVD so you can watch something new.

    Hobby materials

    Take advantage of the mostly uninterrupted time to make a serious dent in your knitting, crocheting, beading or quilting project. Using your hands is a good way to keep them warm during infusions. Some cancer centers also have an art therapy program, which can improve emotional and physical healing.
    BeveragesIt’s important to stay hydrated during chemotherapy. Your infusion center may provide beverages, but this is a way to make sure you have something that you enjoy drinking. There are many things other than water; such as Gatorade, Crystal Light, and decaffeinated teas.

    Eating adequate amounts of calories and protein also is important during chemotherapy. While the cancer center may have light snacks such as soup or crackers, you may want to bring something that you particularly like. Hard candy, lemon drops or ginger candy can help to get rid of the metallic taste that some people develop or reduce nausea.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    cancer confessions...

    I feel that when we are diagnosed with cancer we keep a lot of our fear to our selves. Whether you are a patient, a care giver, a survivor, or a family member of a loved one going through the battle, it is not easy. It's not easy to tell anyone how you are feeling. ( you don't want to be judged or seen as weak or cry because that's not showing support) This video Is for you!!! These are caner confessions from people all over the world who felt the need to share there emotions. I just simply comprised it into a video for you to watch. 

    You are not alone in your feelings. 
    I hope you enjoy!

    Thursday, June 14, 2018

    This one's for the girls...

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    How Does Chemotherapy Influence the Onset of Menopause? Web Source

    • During chemotherapy, women may have irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea (disappearance of menstrual periods).  Some medications used in chemotherapy may also cause damage to the ovaries, resulting in menopausal symptoms or menopause.  
    • Menopause may be immediate or delayed, permanent or temporary when triggered by chemotherapy.  
    • There is no way to accurately determine how or when chemotherapy or other cancer treatments will affect your menstrual cycle.  
    • Menopause is rarely a sudden response to chemotherapy.  When chemotherapy treatments begin, you may notice some menopausal symptoms, but usually the symptoms are delayed for several months after treatment is started.  This is natural. 
    • Menopausal symptoms may last for years after treatment is completed. 
    Will my menstrual flow be different after chemotherapy?
    Menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman.  Some women may experience less frequent cycles than they had prior to chemotherapy.  They may skip a period or increase the number of days between periods.  Other women may have more frequent periods.  Some women may not experience a change in the length of their menstrual cycles but the flow pattern may be different than it was before treatment (the number of days or amount of flow may diminish or the flow may be heavier).  Mixed patterns are also common: some women may have shorter menstrual cycles with heavier bleeding or infrequent cycles with many days of a very high flow. 
    Even though periods tend to be irregular around the time of menopause, it is important to be aware of bleeding that is not normal for you.  It is very important to call your physician if you ever have very heavy bleeding that is associated with weakness or dizziness.
    Will my periods return after chemotherapy?
    • Many pre-menopausal women retain or recover ovarian function and their periods return after treatment is completed.  
    • Return of ovarian function may depend on the woman's age prior to treatment and the type of medication she received during treatment.
    Can I get pregnant while I'm receiving chemotherapy?
    Yes, There is always a chance that you can get pregnant as long as you are menstruating.  While on chemotherapy, your menstrual cycle may become irregular.  As a result, you may never quite be sure where you are in your menstrual cycle and your period may take you by surprise.  Some of your menstrual cycles may be non-egg producing, but you can not rely on this.  Even if your periods seem to have stopped, you should use a safe and effective method of birth control for at least 4 to 8 weeks after your chemotherapy treatment has ended. 
    What is the safest type of birth control during chemotherapy? 
    Irregular menstruation or the disappearance of menstrual periods may persist for years after chemotherapy, making an effective and safe contraception (birth control) method necessary.  Guidelines for young women undergoing chemotherapy at many cancer centers include the use of barrier contraceptives such as a diaphragm or a condom.  Oral Contraceptives (birth control pills) may be acceptable for some women but may not be recommended for women with breast cancer.
    What happens if I get pregnant while receiving chemotherapy?
    Although this is extremely rare, an unplanned pregnancy while receiving chemotherapy could result in a complicated pregnancy.  The treatment could also cause negative effects on your baby's development.  A safe method of birth control must always be used while receiving chemotherapy.
    If you think you might be pregnant, it is important to tell your physician right away so those steps can be taken to ensure the health of you and your baby.
    After I've completed chemotherapy, how long must I wait before trying to get pregnant?
    Pregnancies after chemotherapy are not uncommon, but need to be planned after the completion of your treatment.  Consult your oncology physician to discuss your plans to get pregnant once your treatment is over.  In many cases, pregnancy will not influence the return of cancer.  There are situations in which pregnancy should be considered with caution.
    Are there risks of chromosomal abnormalities or cancer in children conceived after chemotherapy? 
    No.  There is no known risk of chromosomal abnormalities in a woman's children after she has had chemotherapy.  There is also no evidence that cancer treatment causes cancer in children conceived after the treatment is complete. 

    Symptoms of Menopause:

    The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, emotional changes, changes in the vagina, sexuality changes and weight gain
    What are hot flashes?
    Hot flashes are the most frequent symptoms of menopause.  A hot flash is a momentary sensation of heat, which may be accompanied by a red, flushed face and sweating.  The cause of hot flashes is not known, but may be related to vascular instability.  Studies show that hot flashes vary among women.  Hot flashes may be precipitated by: psychological stress, hot weather, caffeine, spicy foods, or alcohol.
    How long will I have hot flashes?
    The severity and duration of hot flashes varies among women.  Some women have hot flashes for a very short time during menopause.  Other women may have hot flashes, at least to some degree, for life.  Generally, hot flashes are less frequent and less severe as time passes. 
    How can hot flashes be managed?
    The most effective way to manage hot flashes is through hormone replacement therapy.  There is much debate over whether estrogen should be prescribed when a woman is being treated for breast or endometrial cancer.  There is also controversy over the benefits versus risk of hormone replacement therapy for women using regimens containing progesterone.  It is best to ask your physician if hormone replacement therapy is the right treatment for you. 
    There are a number of nonhormonal medications available for the treatment of hot flashes. Their goal is not to eliminate hot flashes altogether but to diminish their intensity and frequency. Vitamin E 800IU daily, Vitamin B6 200mg daily or Peridin-C 2 tablets 3 times a day, are over the counter agents that may be of help.
    There has been some research with the use of the medications; venlafaxine (effexor) an anti-depressant, bellergal and clonidine, for treatment of hot flashes, these would need to be prescribed by your physician.
    The medical community is only beginning to study the properties of soy. It works in a variety of ways. In some organs it acts like an estrogen and in others it blocks estrogen. It also has many effects other than hormonal ones. Overall the data on soy are good, and it's probably safe for women with breast cancer, but the final answers aren't in yet. Moderation is the key, one serving of soy a day (40 grams) is probably OK.
    Black cohosh has been used but because of some of its estrogen-like properties it's use in patients with breast cancer is controversial.
    It is important to talk to your physician before you take any medications or supplements, to be sure there is no contraindication of any of these treatments in your individual situation.
    What are emotional changes?
    Menopause may cause emotional changes such as:
    • Energy loss
    • Lack of motivation
    • Irritability
    • Aggressiveness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Anxiety
    • Headaches
    • Insomnia
    • Depression
    • Nervous exhaustion
    • Mood changes
    • Tension
    Emotional changes are more difficult to associate with menopause because they commonly occur in other situations.  In addition, cancer and its treatment can contribute to emotional changes. 
    Other possible causes of emotional changes include your work or home environment, life events, aging, psychiatric disorders (anxiety and depression) and some medications.  These other possible causes make it difficult to attribute emotional changes exclusively to low hormone levels as a result of menopause. 
    How can emotional changes be managed? 
    Management of emotional changes is difficult since there may be many different influencing factors.  Hormone (estrogen) replacement therapy has had variable results in controlling emotional changes.  Ask your physician if hormone replacement therapy is the right treatment for you.
    Sometimes, just knowing emotional changes are normal may make them easier to cope with.  Other ways to manage emotional changes include support groups and counseling.  Occasionally, medications such as antidepressants may be recommended. 
    What are some vaginal changes I might experience during menopause?
    Low estrogen levels during menopause can cause vaginal dryness, which may result in painful sexual intercourse or decreased sex drive. 
    Sometimes menopause can cause thinning of the vaginal lining, resulting in vaginal "shrinkage." This is usually a late effect of menopause, but it can happen at any time.  Ask your physician if estrogen cream or a vaginal dilator is the appropriate treatment for you. 
    What can I do to treat vaginal dryness?
    Vaginal dryness can be treated with water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly.  Do not use non-water soluble lubricants such as Vaseline because they can weaken latex (the material used to make condoms).  Non-water soluble lubricants can also provide a medium for bacterial growth, particularly in a person whose immune system has been weakened by chemotherapy. 
    What can I do to treat decreased sex drive?
    Menopause should not necessarily affect a woman's ability to enjoy sex.  Some studies suggest that decreased sex drive (libido) is most often related to painful intercourse caused by vaginal dryness.  Therefore, treating vaginal dryness may be helpful.
    It is important to note that active cancer therapy or the diagnosis of cancer can also affect your sex drive. 
    Treating a decreased sex drive may be accomplished with hormone replacement therapy and/or counselors*.  Ask your physician if hormone replacement therapy is the right treatment for you. 
    • Counselors are available to help work through problems with sexuality related to cancer therapy. 
    What can be done about weight gain? 
    The best remedies for weight gain are watching your diet and increasing your physical activity.  If you would like more information about how to maintain proper eating habits, you may wish to seek the advice of a registered dietician.
    Will my voice change during menopause? 
    Probably not.  Most women do not experience a voice change during menopause. 

    Other Changes Associated with Menopause:

    Other changes, which may be associated with menopause, include increase in facial hair growth, osteoporosis and heart disease. 
    What can be done about increased facial hair?
    Many women do not experience any additional facial hair growth.  If facial hair growth becomes a problem for you, waxing or other hair removers (called depilatories) may be options. 
    Be sure to consult with your physician and beautician to make sure the hair remover you choose will not harm your skin. 
    What is osteoporosis? 
    Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone mass resulting in thinner, more porous bone.  Osteoporosis can lead to a higher risk of fractures or broken bones.  Although osteoporosis is not a symptom of menopause, low estrogen levels during menopause have been associated with a reduction in bone mass.  Not all women will experience osteoporosis - it is a condition that is also related to aging and heredity. 
    What can be done to prevent or manage osteoporosis?
    Nutrition (especially calcium intake), increased physical activity and hormones (estrogen) are three factors that improve bone health.  It is important to limit caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and carbonated beverages since these substances may reduce bone mass. 
    Hormone (estrogen) replacement therapy increases bone mass but must be prescribed by your physician.  Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat estrogen-sensitive tumors, has been helpful in reducing osteoporosis.  Raloxifene may also be used to treat osteoporodis.  Other drugs you can ask your physician about include calcitonin and etidronate. 
    How is heart disease associated with menopause?
    Heart disease becomes more of a risk for women after menopause because of the reduced level of estrogen.  It was once believed that estrogen (through hormone replacement therapy) reduced the risk of heart disease.  However, recent studies suggest that estrogen (through hormone replacement therapy) may have no effect on the risk of heart disease in women.  Of course, exercise and not smoking will also reduce your risk of heart disease. 
    Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancers, has also shown some benefit in reducing the risk of heart disease.  If your cholesterol is high, a low-cholesterol diet will help reduce your risk of heart disease or medication may be required. 
    If you have a personal or family history of heart disease, you should inform your physician. 

    When to Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider:

    You should always keep your health care provider informed about of how you are feeling. 

    Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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    Effects of Early Menopause Web Source

    Early menopause due to cancer treatment can feel shattering physically and emotionally, partly because it is a shock. A sudden menopause can cause more severe symptoms than a natural menopause. The symptoms will pass, but it can take a couple of years.
    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps to relieve symptoms for many women who are able to take it. HRT means taking a tablet form of female sex hormones to replace the hormones that your body used to produce naturally.
    HRT is not suitable after some types of cancer, such as breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about whether you can take HRT. They can tell you about other ways of reducing menopausal symptoms if HRT is not suitable for you.
    The biggest effect of the menopause is that you can no longer become pregnant and have a baby. This is because you no longer produce an egg from your ovaries each month. This loss of fertility can be upsetting even if you have a family or did not intend to have children. 

    Image result for menopause and chemo
    Most women affected by early menopause know it's coming: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) are all common causes. But it can also be due to lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors. And even though only 1% of women hit menopause before 40, the factors behind an early change also affect the risk for a handful of illnesses and diseases.
    Check out these 7 things early menopause can mean for your health: Web Source
    1. You have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
    2. You're aging faster.
    3. You may have been exposed to toxins.
    4. It might not be early menopause—and you could still get pregnant.
    5. You have an increased risk of heart disease.
    6. You're at a higher risk for bone fractures for a longer time.
    7. You have an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer.

    According to the American Pregnancy Association, about 1 in 1,000 women ages 15 to 29 and 1 in 100 women between the ages of 30 and 39 experience early menopause.

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