Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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My day begins with a hot yummy drink made with two magical spices namely Ginger and Cinnamon.

I would like to share the recipe to prepare this yummy elixir.

Ingredients : (for one serving)

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  •     One inch piece of Ginger
  •     1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
  •     Few drops or more of lemon (as per your taste)
  •     1-2 tsp of honey
  •     Water 250ml

Roughly crush the ginger and add it to the water. Add cinnamon powder. Let the mixture boil for 5 mins.

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Strain the water .

Add honey and lemon juice into the glass.

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A right mix of lemon juice and honey , as per your taste, can enhance the yumminess of the drink, making you want more of it 🙂

Enjoy your yummy and healthy drink !!

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Both Ginger and Cinnamon are rich in antioxidants which eliminate free radicals in the body. They also reduce inflammation in the body . Inflammation is the major cause of most illnesses.

Most foods available these days are in processed form which are very unhealthy and are acidic in nature.

It is very important that the body is maintained in an alkaline state by consuming more foods that are alkaline in nature.

Ginger and Cinnamon are alkaline and increase the alkalinity of our body.

Several lifestyle diseases can be avoided by intake of foods which are alkaline, are high in antioxidants ,which  reduce inflammation in the body and increase immunity in the body.

Having a warm liquid first thing in the morning also does a whole lot of good to our digestive system.

Do include more fruits and veggies in your diet , to maintain an alkaline state in the body.


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Without a Dad, there is no Birth.

This Father’s day , I would like to share an important role that my Dad has played in my Rebirth too.

Five years ago, I was living in denial and was devastated when I was getting hints from many angles that I was diagnosed with Cancer. No one in my family spoke about it openly and neither did I have the courage to ask directly nor did I dare to see my reports.

I knew that Mom was unaware of my condition. Dad had told her that it was a condition that can be treated. That I will be getting the best treatment which is called Stem Cell Transplant. He bore all the pain himself , unable to share with Mom , not knowing whether she would be able to accept the situation. Poor Dad.

I was in a confused state.

I told myself that I should not cry , that I should appear very normal and not talk about it. I went to work . But I was walking around like a dead person. Everyone in my family , hubby, siblings appeared very normal and made me feel very comfortable.

One of those days , before my Transplant,  I broke down in front of my Dad. I didn’t dare to do that in my Mom’s presence.

The Golden words that Dad spoke to me at that time were ‘Everyone experiences health issues in their life time. We have to face it. The medical field is coming up with new drugs very frequently. Nothing to worry ‘.

Dad underwent Coronary Bypass surgery twice. He continues to lead a very active life and has a lot of confidence on the Medical treatments and new medications that are being churned out periodically. He says this from his own experience during the last 17 years. The whole process was better and he got healed much faster after the second Bypass Surgery compared to the first time.

Those words inspired me and there is no looking back. My tears had dried and never ever did I shed a tear again.

My Dad is my biggest inspiration. Having seen the way he dealt with his own health issues I am able to go ahead with a lot of hope and courage.

We went ahead with the Stem Cell Transplant . He stood like a Rock , monitoring my progress and coordinated with all agencies like hospital staff, donors etc. My Oncologist too was surprised by the amount of care and support that he took all the while. Dad would accompany me and hubby when we went for the post transplant consultations too.

Finally, he is confident that his daughter is now strong 🙂

Thank you Dad for showing me the way. Those few words were so precious.

Love you Dad.

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Rahul, the Bravest warrior against Cancer I have ever known, is no more in our midst 😦

He founded Yoddhas.com to bring all fighters to a common forum so all can share their wins , problems and solutions.

It was my Dad who first saw an article in The Hindu newspaper about Yoddhas.com founded by Rahul. Dad told me to take a look at the article.

Rahul had declared that he was preparing to get a Stem Cell Transplant with Stem Cells from a Donor . The treatment was very expensive and he was seeking donations too.

Found his contact number on the website and immediately called him to learn further details . I heard a very strong and confident voice which gave me a lot of strength and courage to fight my own war.

Very soon he started a Whatsapp group and added many MM patients and their caregivers to the group. Dr Ram Ganjoo , Oncologist is also part of the group and is always available on the forum , eager to help and is very supportive.

It was in this forum that I expressed my conviction about Circumin and its potency in killing Cancer cells . Dr Gayatri , also in the whatsapp group ,who successfully conquered MM heard me and directed me to meet Dr Nitin,  an Ayurvedic Doctor from Mumbai who had prescribed Curcumin and other herbal medications to her . She is perfectly normal since several years. My conviction about Circumin doubled.

I must say that it is through Rahul , albeit indirectly, that I found a solution. I always felt that he lived for others more than for himself.

Deeply saddened on Rahul’s demise 😦

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Random musings : May 2017

Wanted to share some of the exciting events happening in my life these days 🙂 .

Me and my siblings  performed Dad’s 75th birthday a few days ago , in a traditional way. The event is called ”Sahasra Nakshatra Shanti”

Mom and Dad performed “Homan” followed by “Mangala Snanam” in the temple and then there was a “Lakshmi Narayana” puja at home too. All of us including the kids enjoyed the homam which started at 5 am .  We had just a few days to do all the shopping for clothes, puja items, flowers , fruits etc . It all happened with a short notice. So glad that we were able to perform this event for our parents.

Temple where the Homam was performed .

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Lakshmi Naraya Puja at home with 1000 Lotus flowers.

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An important activity at work currently is the migration to the new GST( Goods  and Services Tax)  regime imposed by the Government of India. This project is keeping me busy with several back to back meetings with other Departments to incorporate the new changes in our business processes , testing the new scenarios , preparation of cutover data which includes downloading and uploading of data to the Database , testing the monthly Return formats etc . All organisations have to migrate to the new Taxation on 1 July 2017.

Projects on IIOT too are in the pipeline and I am very excited to get them implemented.

I am also due for a promotion to a higher grade at work. I will be facing an interview and I think I am cool and confident 🙂 . Have been busy preparing for the interview too.

My niece’s (BIL’s daughter) wedding is coming up and I am looking forward to all the fun and dressing up for the various events. The wedding is a 5 day event and I may have to travel a lot from one end of the city to the other side as they live across the city. Will be fun helping and watching the proceedings up close.

Was tough getting my clothes ready for the event. Been shopping all through May. Had to do all my shopping after I got back home from work. All my favourite clothes stores are far from home and farther away from where I work and hence I was getting home late on most days. Thanks to mom for helping me select some good stuff. I love her choices.  I always enjoy shopping with Mom. She knows what looks good on me and I always get compliments 🙂

So glad to be busy with all these activities. Never been this busy in all my life 🙂 . Too many events happening simultaneously.

The GST and IIOT projects will keep me very busy for a few more months.

I also have to take an appointment with my Oncologist as I am due for a Bone Marrow Test in a couple of weeks from now.

Love you Life !!

 


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Amla Rice , Usirikaya Pulihora , Vanabhojanaalu and Health !!

Amla is Indian Gooseberry. This fruit is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. This Vitamin increases immunity in the body, thereby protecting the body from infections. There are several medicinal properties of Amla.

I always knew this fact but didn’t know how to incorporate fresh/raw Amla in my diet.

The only knew that people usually ate Amla is in the form of Amla pickle and Amla candy. These two recipes ensure that Amla can be preserved and hence can be relished throughout the year. Amla is a major ingredient in Chyawanprash.

The trees bear fruits during  October, November and December months in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in India. Most vegetable stores would be selling them during these three months. I always came across these but never gave them a second look.

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Amla pickle is usually made at home or can also be bought at Indian grocery stores . I don’t prefer eating Amla pickle as it has a lot of oil and salt . I like Amla Candy and always keep a stock . But I was bored of eating the candy .

One day at the Organic grocery store , that I visit regularly, I saw these fresh , round , light green Amla’s.  I was tempted to  buy . I wanted to make my own candy but was not confident about the recipe. I thought lemme try eating them raw. But a raw berry has a typical taste and not very appealing. It  is soury – astringent with a sweet aftertaste .

I picked a few in my hand and asked the store keeper ‘what can I do with these ?’ and she immediately answered ‘Usirikaya pulihora ‘ (Amla rice ) . I asked her for the recipe and she immediately recited the recipe.

I was like wowww and felt so happy :)) . I usually make lemon, tamarind and mango rice but this was news to me… I was so excited that I tried it the next morning and it was yummilicious.

Since then I have made this dish  several times. I now buy these whenever I see them. I have seen these recently and learnt that they are brought from Tamil Nadu where they yield fruit during February/March.

The Gooseberry tree is revered by Hindus. There was a time , long ago, when I found it silly that my mom was worshipping  a branch of this tree during ‘vanabhojanaalu’ in the park adjacent to Gandipet lake.

‘Vanabhojanalu’ is a get together/community lunch held under the trees/park/forest along with some fun activities.

It was much later that I learnt about the potency of this fruit and then realised why the tree is worshipped.

During the month of Karthika (Telugu calendar) , people meet for Vanabhojanaalu. This is a popular event in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. ‘Vana’ is forest and ‘Bhojanalu’ is lunch.  Karthika usually occurs in the months of Oct-Nov . This tree begins to bear fruit during these months. Vanabhojanalu is associated with this tree , when people form groups , cook and have lunch in a farm/nursery/forest where a Gooseberry tree is usually found. If there is no Gooseberry tree in the vicinity , a small branch of this tree is placed nearby and worshipped , followed by lunch.This is an event for get togethers along with some fun. The branches of this tree are sold in markets during Kaarthika month .

Most of the customs and traditions of Hindus are in some way connected to health , hygiene , discipline and also have a philosophical touch . They are not superstitions as they are made out to be.

The ignorant may not be able to appreciate the benefits of this fruit and hence these customs were incorporated.

Here is the recipe for Amla Rice !!

Ingredients (for 3 servings) –

Mustard seeds – half tsp

Jeera – half tsp

Urad Dal – 1 tbsp

Chana dal – 1tbsp

Cashews – 3tbsp

Asafoetida – one pinch



Curry leaves -2 sprigs

Coriander leaves – 2 sprigs

One cup raw rice . Boil the rice and keep it aside. Make sure it is not mushy. Spead the cooked rice in a wide pan so it cools and it would be easier to mix all the ingredients.

 

Ground nut oil – 3tbsp

turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

salt – as per your taste


Amla – 5

Green chillies -3

Juice of one Lemon

 

Prepare Amla for the recipe by cutting them into pieces (throw away the seed) and grind it coarsely.

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For Tadka :

 

Add oil in a pan . Add mustard, jeera and wait till they splutter. Add urad dal, chana dal , groundnuts and cashew nuts . 


Stir till they turn golden brown and then add turmeric 

Add  the slit green chillies, curry leaves and Amla paste and stir for a minute.

 

Add the above mixture to the boiled rice and mix all the ingredients slowly and thoroughly..Add the salt too.

Add lemon juice at the end and stir well.

Amla Rice is ready to be served !!

 

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I started googling for other Amla recipes and found recipes for chutneys , sweet , rasam and juices.

Everyone should incorporate Amla in their diet , in whatever form they prefer , for a healthier body.

Thank you Mother Nature !!


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Use of Turmeric / Curcumin in Indian Customs and Traditions , Health and Healing , Beauty treatments

Turmeric Vs Curcumin :

Turmeric is a root/rhizome, a golden-colored spice that belongs to the ginger family . Widely used in India for different purposes. The words Turmeric and Curcumin are usually used interchangeably but Curcumin is an extract from Turmeric root, which gives the yellow color to the spice and has several healing properties. Different methods are used to extract Curcumin from Turmeric. Turmeric contains various ”curcuminoids” and Curcumin is one of them. Curcumin is a whole Pharmacy in itself and is used to treat several health conditions. Extensive research is being carried out on Curcumin in the western world for its healing properties..

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This spice has always been revered in India since thousands of years. But ,it is very unfortunate that the healing properties are unknown to majority of the current generation and the knowledge is slowly getting lost. Hopefully the research that is being carried out in the western world will bring to light the potency of Turmeric and thereby heal the world.

Here is an attempt to describe how Turmeric has been in use since centuries in Indian Customs and traditions.

Hindu Customs and Traditions :

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A few drops of water is added to Turmeric powder which is then shaped into a small solid cone . During Hindu festivals this form is worshiped as ”Lord Ganesha” , the remover of all obstacles. It is a fact that none of us  wish to face any obstacles in whatever activity we do/take up. This is a method of reinforcing our will power and also to invoke the blessings of the almighty.

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During Fridays, festivals and other auspicious events, Turmeric paste is applied on the threshold of the main entry door of the house and all other doors that lead outside the house. This ensures that insects and ants do not enter the house. Now a days this is done away with by using paints. Beautiful designs of flowers and leaves are drawn using colourful paints.

A married woman gives Turmeric root/powder along with ‘kumkum’ to other married women  (neighbors, relatives , friends etc), during festivals after inviting them into their homes. This is done as a blessing and good wishes for the long life of the woman and her husband .

Turmeric during weddings :

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Wedding preparations start with the making of Turmeric powder at home. An auspicious day and time is chosen for the event. A few women (relatives, friends neighbors) gather and use a mortar and thistle to crush the dry Turmeric root and symbolically prepare Turmeric powder.

A lot of Turmeric powder is used during Hindu weddings. There are a minimum of  5 rituals, spread over a few days , which require the use of Turmeric powder.

Haldi Ceremony is a very important part of a Hindu wedding. The bride and groom are smeared with a paste made by mixing Turmeric powder , sandalwood paste and rose-water, in their respective homes , couple of days before the wedding. Relatives friends and neighbors gather and make it a fun event.The Bride and Groom get a beautiful glow on their skin 🙂 . . This is repeated three times on three consecutive days. A natural beauty treatment instead of going to a beauty parlour or a Spa.

The bride and groom wear clothes that have been dipped in water that is mixed with turmeric powder . The cloth then gets dyed with a light yellow color.

Turmeric powder is mixed with rice which is then called ‘Akshintalu / Akshatalu ‘. These Akshintalu are used during puja and also used to bless others by sprinkling a little on top of the head of the one taking blessings who bows down and touches the elders feet.

In South Indian weddings , this rice is taken with cupped  hands by the bride and groom and  is poured on top of each others head during the wedding ceremony.

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A long thread is smeared with Turmeric paste and a Turmeric root is tied at the center of this thread. During the wedding ceremony the groom ties this thread around the neck of the bride with three knots.

 

 

Health and Healing :

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An Indian kitchen is incomplete without Turmeric powder in its spice box. Almost all Indian recipes contain Turmeric powder.Thus ensuring that turmeric is taken everyday in our diet. Turmeric also enhances the color of the dish. The anti bacterial properties of turmeric prevents food from decaying quickly.

 

Turmeric powder is Mixed in milk and consumed in order to treat coughs and colds.

Turmeric is supposed to be good for the Liver and digestion.

Turmeric is applied to bruises as it is an antiseptic.

Small balls are made with wet Turmeric powder. A few of these are consumed in order to reduce menstrual cramps .

Turmeric is a blood thinner and reduces cholesterol. Helps in controlling Blood Pressure.

It is anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the major reason for most of the chronic diseases including Diabetes , Cardiovascular diseases , Arthritis , Cancer etc.

Curcumin induces apoptosis in tumours . It induces cell death in cancerous cells thereby stopping the multiplication of these cells.  A lot of research is being carried out and there is sufficient proof that this property of Curcumin can treat almost all types of Cancers.

Beauty Treatments :

Many South Indian women apply turmeric paste to their feet every Friday and during festivals and other religious events. Being an antiseptic it protects the feet from infections and cracked feet.

Turmeric paste mixed with other items like milk, chickpea flour etc is applied as a face mask to get rid of acne, pimples and other skin problems . It is also an excellent exfoliant and gives a glow to the skin.

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No wonder Turmeric has always been given a lot of importance in Hindu customs, traditions and rituals since a long time and is treated with piety and respect.

It is highly recommended that everyone include more Turmeric in their diet. It is also advised to prepare your own Turmeric powder instead of using the store-bought powder which is usually adulterated.

I have been using Curcumin every day since Jan 2014 , to fight Multiple Myeloma. Currently not using any other drug. Hope to manage my condition as long as I can.

~Yad Bhaavam Tad Bhavathi  : You become what you think ~


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What to expect during and after a BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant) or Stem Cell Transplant

I get to talk/chat with caregivers/patients with Multiple Myeloma . Each one of them has a different set of queries.

One such patient, who was advised to go for a BMT by my Oncologist , was preparing to get admitted to the hospital and called me a few days ago.

I  first met him when he was just diagnosed and wanted to know about my condition in general.He was not ready to go for the BMT then. My Oncologist had suggested he speak to me and gave him my phone number.

The second time , he called me and he was more specific and wanted to know what to expect during the BMT ,while he is in the sterile ward .During the BMT process the patient is in a sterile and isolated room for approximately 15 days. This is a must as the patients immunity would be at the lowest and hence prone to infections.

He was worried whether there would be unbearable pains in the body, severe burning sensation in the stomach , whether he would be able to walk and other details.

This post is specifically to provide details as to what actually happens during the two weeks in the sterile room and precautions to be taken after the patient is discharged.

After the Stem cells of the patient are harvested from the patient (for an autologous transplant), the patient is moved to the sterile room. A high dose of chemo is administered to the patient via the ‘Chemo port’. All parameters are monitored every morning, which includes blood tests. For a few days the patient feels very normal and is given normal food. Around 4th day they start experiencing tingling sensations in the legs. The feet feel heavy , numb and restless. These are the symptoms of ‘Neuropathy’ (The fine nerve endings in body are affected, a side effect of chemo ). The mouth begins to feel dry and there is a mild sore feeling in the mouth. The patient is unable to eat spicy food. The digestive system gets affected as the lining in the esophagus  ,stomach and intestines become sore due to the chemo dose. Medications are given to soothe the digestive system.

During the first week , the patient’s blood counts go on  reducing , the WBC count becomes zero. Meanwhile the patient is given platelets and blood transfusions as the body is not yet in a position to generate its own cells. The patients own harvested stem cells ( our very own fresh and healthy new babies ) are given back to the patient via the port. These cells reach the Bone marrow and divide to form all the various other blood cells like Red blood cells, White Blood cells,  Platelets , Neutrophills etc .

During this period the patient is unable to eat any solid food. Food is given in the form of Fluids. A dietician visits almost every day and based on the patients condition/feedback the diet is changed.

Around the 7th or 8th day the patient’s own WBC count begins to increase. This is an indication that the Stem cells have started doing their job.By the end of the second week , the counts of all other blood cells like platelets, RBC , Neutrophils etc increase and reach almost normal levels.

The patient will begin to experience loose watery stools, nausea and vomiting.

Not to worry much.Go with the flow :))

There were times when I would be frustrated and irritated with the nurses for no fault of theirs. When they took longer time to retrieve by blood samples or did not attend to me immediately when I give a buzz etc . At one point the Air Conditioning was faulty and I created a big scene and informed that I wanted to meet the Hospital Admin staff. But they kept calm and handled me well :))

Patient feels weak and may not be able to move around the room without the help of a nurse.

It is advised to get out of the bed and walk around the room as often as possible with the help of nursing staff.

At the end of two weeks , once all counts get back to normal the patient would be able to walk on their own without any help.

A day starts with blood samples being drawn. The patient is given a bath ,dried , moisturizing cream is applied to the body and dressed. Allow the nursing staff to do whatever they would like to do. Just hand over your body to them and cooperate.They treat you like a baby. Enjoy the pampering :))

Breakfast is served . Time for medication. All medications are given through the chemo port. Lunch is served. One can watch TV. The cleaning staff do their job. Time for a visit by the doctors . Depending on the patients condition, several doctors will visit and at times they might disturb your precious sleep :).  A dietician does a followup. Watch more TV. The patient may puke a few times and visits the washroom a few times 🙂 Watch all your favourite programs and channels during these days .

I would watch Travel shows, Discovery channel , National Geographic, Cookery shows on various channels ,Bhakti channels , NDTV Goodtimes. I was least interested in knowing what was happening around the world wrt current news. There will be short naps now and then. My Oncologist said that I could use my smartphone/tablet/laptop but I had no interest in being in touch with anyone. Most of the time an IV bottle is connected and hence difficult to move.

At times I would request the nurses to stay with me and we would chat and watch TV together.There were 6 nurses in shifts and we would share our stories. I frequently wanted my feet to be massaged and the nurses would gladly do it.

The skin colour becomes darker by a few shades due to the chemo. This is when we realize that being alive is more important than the colour of the skin or the appearance :))

There was a huuuge window in my room on the 3rd floor which overlooked the entrance to the hospital. The window covered  3/4th of the wall. I would watch people go by and wonder why the world is so complex when all that matters is to be alive. Being alive itself is a reason for celebration and happiness , and everything else is a bonus :)) .

You are permitted to talk to your near and dear ones on the phone. They may be allowed to visit once or twice.

On one of the days I was allowed to  see them through a small window in the nursing station once my counts began to increase.

My family would be waiting outside the Main door of the isolated ward most of the time during the day . They would be busy arranging blood donors from family , friends and colleagues and eagerly look forward to listen to what the doctors had to say on my progress.

Every day they would see my plate of food arriving and going back without being eaten. I would feel like eating different stuff but when it was brought I was unable to take even a few bites . There is no saliva in the mouth and it becomes very difficult to chew/swallow.

I would be worried that I was unable to eat. How would my cells multiple if I dont eat ??!!

But they do , so don’t worry about it :)) . Relax 🙂

There are no pains because of the Chemo nor any other burning sensation in any part of the body.

When you are ready to be moved out the sterile ward , you can actually walk out on your own but do sit down in the wheelchair and enjoy the ride to a normal ward . It is a great feeling to be finally out in the world  :).

You will be in the normal ward for a couple of days. These few days seem like ages :)). Every hour seems like eternity. Finally it is time to go home … the sweetest place on earth 🙂

The next one month is going to be difficult when it comes to eating food. The nausea and vomiting continues . You will be given medication to reduce nausea. Continue to take fluids and protein supplements prescribed by the dietician. Ensure you meet the dietician before you are discharged.

Have patience ..a lot of patience is expected from the patient as well as the caregivers.

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The patient feels very weak . The bones are very tender and some effort is required to even turn your body on the bed. But that’s okay . Things will improve . Do a few exercises while lying on the bed. A physiotherapist will guide you during your stay in the hospital.

Take all your medications without fail. Feel free to talk to your doctor as and when you experience any problem or have a doubt.

Drink lots of water.

Do not venture out of your house for a couple of months. Since the patients immunity is low they will be susceptible to infections. Need not worry even if there are any infections. Just go ahead and get the medications. Stomach , throat , eye , respiratory , skin infections are some of the common issues that one might face.

Have patience . This too shall pass !!

this too shall pass

In a few weeks you would want to eat all kinds of stuff , but go slow as the digestive system is not yet strong .

In a few months you will be back to normal and you can go back to doing whatever you were doing.

This is also the right time to look up for information on alternative therapies on the Internet. Do you own research and you will definitely find a way to stay healthy and beat the BIG C forever.

Best Wishes !!