Childhood cancer: Dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy

Since 1998, my husband and I have hosted over 1,200 children with cancer at the Imus Ranch in an attempt to restore in them some of the confidence and dignity that having cancer at a young age can take away. These children have lost a lot, whether it’s their hair, time with friends or a sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, they have gained a lot too, namely the residual health problems that affect these kids emotionally, physically, and mentally for the rest of their lives.

A few recent studies have confirmed something I’ve witnessed firsthand over and over again during the last 14 years: Treating kids with cancer begets many other complications. Radiating their small, undeveloped bodies with chemotherapy and other strong drugs cannot only cause other cancers down the road, it can lead to heart conditions, hearing loss, behavioral difficulties like attention deficit disorder, blood disorders, depression, asthma and learning impairments.

Alternative therapies are not accepted as the first line of defense for children with cancer. The protocols for cancer treatment are usually surgery, chemotherapies, and radiation, and the side effects that each entails. But the goal of running any and all wayward cells out of town is paramount, and no parent should deny their children (or themselves) the best method of kissing cancer goodbye.

As ever, the best way to approach this nightmarish scenario is to make sure your entire family has the healthiest, cleanest bodily foundation possible if cancer comes knocking on the door. Many methods of treatment include some form of radiation, so limiting other radiation exposures – from cell phones, microwaves, computers, etc. – would be a great first step.

Another important factor in preparing the body for or helping it recover from chemotherapy is boosting the immune system. Eat whole, organic vegetables and fruits full of vitamins and nutrients. Berries, shitake mushrooms, green tea, and broccoli all possess antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation has long been associated with the development of cancer: in fact, a 2008 study out of MIT showed that chronic inflammation of the intestine or stomach can damage DNA, increasing the risk of cancer.

Exercise, outside if possible, to get those pain-relieving endorphins pumping.  Try reducing stress: depression, anxiety and panic are harmful to the body in many ways. Drink a lot of filtered water, and get plenty of sleep.  Eliminate toxins from your environment, whether found in cleaning agents, food containers, or personal care products.

A strong sense of purpose is important in restoring self-esteem, which is a huge part of our mission at the Imus Ranch. We have seen how work ethic and responsibilities help children regain a fundamental sense of self. To compliment these confidence boosters, we serve a completely healthy diet of organic whole foods, super foods and plant based foods.

Given the recent news that world cancer incidences will increase by 75 percent by the year 2030, it is more crucial than ever that doctors hammer home to patients the need to purify their bodies and their minds before, during, and after cancer treatments. One scary diagnosis in a lifetime seems like more than enough, especially when there are ways to try to avoid it. Prevention needs to be taken more seriously.

Deirdre Imus, founder of the site devoted to environmental health,, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center™ at Hackensack  University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to, Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel. Check out her website at . 'Like' her Facebook page here .