Fighting chemotherapy side effects

December 8, 2011 2:59:35 PM PST
Treatments for cancer like chemotherapy and radiation often have side effects that make life difficult for patients. Many patients are finding relief in alternative treatments to help them cope.

Chemotherapy and radiation kill cancer cells or keep them from spreading, and they are crucial for curing the cancer or extending life. But, according to some health experts, these other therapies can go a long way towards helping a patient feel much better.

It's a session of aroma therapy that cancer patient Ria Hawks is getting from therapist Diane Rooney. Ria has been having neuropathy, numbness and pain in the toes and hands, a side effect of her medications. She says this treatment can help her. She'll also get acupressure and reflexology which help her bloating and intestinal issues.

Ria, who is a nurse, depends so much on her alternative treatments, she keeps a list of what helps.

"I guess it gives me a sense of control. It's a very frightening experience to have cancer," she said.

Oncologist Dr. Kara Kelley of Columbia University Medical Center knows these feelings of patients well.

"If it helps somebody feel like they're in control I say let them do it, encourage them to do it," said Dr. Kelley.

Dr. Kelley and her colleague, nutritionist Elena Lada have written a book and accompanying CD on integrative strategies. They offer patients ways to deal with 21 of the most common side effects, like nausea, fatigue and anxiety.

For more information please visit: