Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. When there are too few number of red blood cells to carry oxygen your body needs, it’s called anemia. You may feel short of breath, weak, dizzy, faint or very tired. Your heart has to work harder and you may feel your heart pounding, or beating faster than usual. You’ll most likely become anemic during chemo.
Here are some ways to manage anemia:
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep 8 hours at night and takes naps (1-2 hours) during the day. It’s a bit like wearing a belt and suspenders, but by taking extra precautions, you’ll come out ahead.
- Stand up slowly when you get get up from sitting, and when getting up from lying down, sit a while before standing, otherwise you’ll feel dizzy, and have a greater chance of losing your balance, and falling – or at very least feeling awful until dizziness calms down.
- Prioritize activities that are important to you. You’ll be tired, so chose between doing this or doing that. Honor yourself by not piling to-do-lists, or activities up.
- Accept help from others. If they offer, say, “Yes! Thank you!” If they don’t offer, ask. Is your child’s friend getting picked up from school by someone you know? Ask them to pick your child up, too. Who can cook? Who drives? Who can do chores, or errands for you?
- You don’t want to eat, but do, and eat for calories and protein to keep your weight up, and repair tissues damaged by treatment. Anemia can cause your red blood cells to fall so low that a transfusion is needed. Rather than that, eat foods high in iron. split pea soup, watermelon, red meat, Braunschweiger spread (liverwurst) on crackers. Some of the cravings you’ll have will be way out in left field, but some of them are your body guiding you to iron, and calories. Just be cautious of calorie building that can easily form into unhealthy habits after the need to keep your weight up is gone.
A link to more info on anemia