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5 Chemotherapy myths vs facts

This is a guest post written by Dr. Signang Alberic Ndonku. He is a pharmacist working with the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health services at Mbingo Baptist Hospital (oncology/palliative care unit)

In my over 3 years of working with cancer patients, I realized many patients die or refuse treatment because of the misconceptions and lies about cancer and chemotherapy (drugs). Hopefully this article will help shatter some of these myths.

It is God’s will. There is nothing i can do about the cancer, than to wait and die.

This is a very common cultural belief in especially in our African setting. Right now there are several cancer treatments available that could help treat cancer and provide a better quality of life. In some cases, the patient is completely cured from cancer.

I’m going to lose all my hair for good.

Not all cancer drugs cause hair loss. But for those patients who do suffer from partial hair or total loss, it will grow back after the treatment course is complete. In some cases, the hair even starts to grow back while treatment is still ongoing.

One common myth is that all patients receiving chemotherapy should avoid spending time with friends and family during their treatment.

This is largely untrue. While most people receiving chemotherapy should be careful about visiting others who are sick and avoid large crowds, having a support system in place to help keep a positive outlook is critical to a patient’s emotional well-being during this time.

Chemotherapy treatment is going to feel worse than just dealing with cancer/ I won’t be able to continue living a normal life.

While this might be true because of the side effects of chemotherapy, side effects affects people differently. Some people may not even experience any. However, if you do experience side effects, speak with your health care provider and your support group on how to manage them.

Click here for more information on how to manage the side effects.

Many people are able to continue going back to work while on chemotherapy.

I won’t be able to have children after chemotherapy.

While there are some real concerns around fertility and chemotherapy, this does not concern all types of chemo and many measures can be put in place to limit infertility.

For women, menstruation may stop during chemotherapy but usually starts back after chemo.


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