Dealing with chemotherapy side effects

Chemotherapy can be very effective as a cancer treatment, but the side effects - which include pain, fatigue, loss of appetite and memory changes - can be difficult for patients to deal with.

Noreen Fraser, cancer patient and founder of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, shared with us how she deals with chemo side effects.

Fraser was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001.  At the time it was stage 1, but over time it moved into her bones, then her liver.

As a consequence, Fraser's chemo treatments became more varied and aggressive. Fraser experienced mouth sores, hair loss, fatigue and a condition called 'chemo brain,' which involves memory loss and inability to concentrate.

Fraser admitted for some side effects, there was nothing that could be done.  However, she has found some relief in natural remedies.

Among others, Fraser credited acupuncture twice a week for helping with the pain in her legs and homemade green smoothies three times a day to boost her strength.

"I did try a lot of different things, but I think acupuncture really helped me," Fraser said. "...That really worked for me."

Fraser's green smoothies involve processing greens, fruits and vegetables in a juicer (or a blender) and thereby retaining all of the fiber when consumed.  This can be done with any combination of fresh, organic produce desired. One of Fraser's typical smoothies include spinach, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, garlic, ginger, lemon and blueberries to one cup of water, as well as whey protein powder.

To absorb more vitamin D, Fraser aims to sit in the sun 15 minutes every day without sunscreen and for deficiencies in magnesium and other trace minerals,  she takes supplements and soaks twice a day in Epsom salts (magnesium).  She added she eats no meat or dairy.

Whenever symptoms became really bad, Fraser said it was OK to let go and not force yourself to be "up."

"Go ahead and feel bad...give yourself a break, don't feel like you have to go to work," Fraser said.  "You can get back on the horse when it's over."