Shutterbug's Blog

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


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Life during and post Covid-19 Lockdown

Had a brief experience of a slow paced life. However, it didn’t last very long and the usual hectic lifestyle is back.

No more stocking up on Groceries :

All of us had started stocking up on Groceries the moment we learnt that a Lockdown would be imposed. Everyone stocked up for a couple of months 🙂 After 6 months of Lockdown , we continue to have some non-perishable food items that are unused as we were able to buy fresh groceries very soon. Now that everything is almost back to normal , there is no need to stock up anymore. Finally , Glad to free up some space in the Pantry and that’s a relief.

Maids are back inside the homes :

In India , most Urban population employ housemaids for doing the day to day household chores. During the Lockdown and also for a long time after the lockdown was withdrawn , everyone were forced to do all the household chores by themselves and everyone in the family contributed. This was one of the best things to happen because of COVID :). However, this didn’t last very long. The maids are now back inside the homes with Masks. Even during the lockdown , I continued to pay my maids/driver some amount.

Home Services are growing faster :

We were hesitant to use the services of househelp, plumbers, electricians, etc during the lockdown and learnt to do everything ourselves and also postponed certain activities. Now , we have House cleaning , Repairs , Beauty treatments etc. being carried out by professional agencies with all Hygienic practices and precautions in place. Organizations like Urbancompany , Housejoy , Quickr etc are growing fast.

Hubby and Son called up ‘Urban Company’ to get a haircut at home after 3 months of No-haircut. They didn’t want to visit a salon.

We also engaged ‘Urban Company’ for deep cleaning the home and they did a great job. These services are the need of the hour.

Shopping is back to normal :

During the lockdown , we started ordering everything online and avoided going to the stores. Everything , including vegetables were ordered online. Numerous makeshift vegetable vendors mushroomed everywhere by the roadside. People preferred to buy from them as they were in the open, rather than going inside a Supermarket. Supermarkets are now providing sanitizer’s and disposable gloves and visits to Supermarkets have increased. The makeshift vegetable vendors are not seen anymore. Not just groceries , but all kinds of stores are back in business. Festival shopping too has picked up and all clothes stores are doing well.

However, Online Shopping has increased and is here to stay. The comfort and options available are definitely more convenient.

Local transport like Autos, Cabs, buses, Metro :

For several months there was no Public transport. Public transport was permitted much later. Autos and Cabs installed a Plastic Sheet between the Driver and Passenger seats. I too installed a plastic sheet in my car as I have a driver. Initially there were a handful of passengers in Buses and Metro was not operational. I now see Buses are almost 50% occupied and Metro too is operational.

Takeaways , Restaurants and Tea/Tiffin stalls :

Eating out was a No-No for a long time. Roadside stalls selling Tea/Snacks /Street food were the first to make a comeback. Restaurants were later given the nod and instructions given to operate at around 50% capacity. Takeaways were permitted. People who were used to eating out on a regular basis in Pre-Covid era, were tired of eating healthy homemade food and are now glad they can enjoy restaurant food 🙂 .Street Food is something which people cannot resist 🙂 . ‘Panipuri’ carts are also doing good business. Few care about health/hygiene or they are confident of their immunity .

Visits to Religious Places :

The familiar sounds from Temples/Mosques/Churches are back and visitors have also increased.

Noisy world is back :

Loved the peaceful atmosphere during the Lockdown. The only noises that were heard belonged to the birds or someone who was selling their wares , mostly veggies , in a pushcart or a 3 wheeler. Whenever a Vendor was heard , I used to rush outside to see what was being sold and if we needed that item. Not just me but all our neighbors too would be out of their homes to have a look at what was being sold. These Vendors were like a boon and I would look forward to them 🙂 . There were hardly anyone on the street. All the peace has now disappeared and noisy days are back with a bang. Grrr…brrrr…honk honk…

The Sky is BLUE !! :

Finally got to see the original ‘Azure’ Sky. Unpolluted air gave a glimpse of the beautiful Blue sky.

Clicked this from our Balcony , one fine morning during the Lockdown ….

Don’t get this view anymore.

Not much to Spend :

Didn’t have to spend for clothes , fancy stuff , restaurants , outings , attending events . We did survive but at the cost of the economy . Daily wage workers struggled to cope up.

Vacations and Holidaying :

Tourism continues to be affected , however post-Covid travel has just begun and I know friends who have started vacationing with family after being stuck inside the home for several months. Hotels and Resorts are taking all the precautions and giving offers to attract tourists.

Travelling by Air :

Air travel has resumed. Contactless Entry at the Airport , contactless Boarding and other Contactless services are in place. Social distancing in the Terminal and inside the flight is also being ensured.

Nature doesn’t need us , we are dependent on Nature :

Human greed is never ending and we want to show our superiority all the time . COVID-19 and the Lockdown made us realize that Nature is more powerful than humanity. It is now obvious that Mother Earth doesn’t need us and Humanity is the virus that is plaguing the Earth.


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Quick fix for Stretched EarLobes at home without Surgery !

Almost all Indian women wear earrings/ear studs on a continuous basis .We love to wear different earrings/studs on different occasions and also prefer stuff which matches our outfits :).

Over a period of time the ear lobe usually starts stretching .

I am a victim of this problem.

Story of my Stretched Ear lobes :

One of my ear lobe began to stretch after I did a big mistake more than two decades ago. I wanted to wear big and heavy Earrings for a wedding and noticed that my ear hole was too small for them . As I was in a hurry I used some force to push it through and there was some bleeding too. I just ignored and went ahead without realizing what was coming up in the future. That incident cut one important tissue in the ear lobe which actually helps in holding the earrings and prevents stretching and tearing :((

Slowly over the years the size of the hole kept increasing.

I soon stopped wearing earrings. For a few years I used earrings which can be simply pressed on the ear lobes , thanks to my sister who got these for me when she went to other countries on official work. These type of earrings were not available in India during those days , sometimes they were too hard and painful or too loose for my ear lobes.

Whenever I came across a jewelry store I would ask for this type of earrings and sometimes I was lucky. Soon I started wearing very very light earrings but I found it very difficult when I had to attend events and wanted to wear heavy jewelry. Tried using buttons at the back of the ear lobe but they didn’t help. I was unable to wear my favorite and expensive jewelry sets. Sometimes I would use ‘Champaswaralu’ to hold the earrings up.

What are ‘Champaswaralu’ :

Indian jewelry

Simple and Effective Solution for Stretched Ear Lobes :

I was very unhappy and discussed with friends and colleagues about how to repair my damaged ear lobe and they suggested to go for a surgery but I hesitated.

Couple of years ago , I started looking for solutions on the Internet as to how I can close my torn ear lobe ,without having a a surgery . Was looking for a way of just sticking up the hole using some special Medical grade adhesive which is similar to the one used for healing small cuts and wounds without stitching up by using sutures.

It was then that I stumbled upon ‘Ear Lift’ .

I was amazed at the simple solution.

More about ‘Ear Lift’ :

These are small oval shaped transparent stickers which has to be stuck behind the ear lobe over the hole and these are available in different packs with 30 patches or 60 patches.

I have been extremely happy ever since :).

Detailed instructions are mentioned on the package.

Advantages of ‘Ear Lift’ patches :

  • You can wear all kinds of Ear rings. Especially when wearing heavy jewelry for special occasions.
  • One can also have a shower without any problem. These patches are waterproof.
  • These stickers are transparent and invisible too.
  • Each sticker lasts for at least 10 days. The patch then slowly starts peeling off and then it is time to replace.
  • Very easy to fix behind the ear lobe. IT does take a few attempts to know where exactly to fix the patch. You can take the help of others to fix it.
  • Quality of Adhesive is very good. It does have a life , so they have to replaced once it starts to peel off.
  • This is an imported product.

Please change the sticker whenever you find that it begins to peel off or you find any discomfort.

Here is the product which I am using and is available on Amazon.

                                                             

Preventing Stretched Ear lobes :

Your Ear lobes may be perfect as on date , however , it is advisable to use these stickers whenever you are wearing heavy Earrings during special occasions. This will prevent any stretching of Ear lobes in the future.

Here are the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures of my earrings.

Before using Ear Lift

After using Ear Lift

                                                             

I am so grateful for this invention and for having stumbled upon this solution and so glad to share with you.


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Best Barbeque Grill for home : Electric Grill

Whenever we like to have grilled food we usually head towards a BBQ restaurant. Grilled food is everyone’s favorite that everyone loves. So, we had this idea of having a grill at home.

Due to the Covid pandemic ,visits to Restaurants or takeaways have completely stopped. But ,the cravings for restaurant style food has not reduced isn’t it :).

Also, there are times when we wish to have our own outdoor grill in the comfort of our home. All of want a no hassle and easy to use Grill at home.

Gas Fired Grill Vs Electric Grill Vs Charcoal Grill :

After considering all the pros and cons of different types of grills , namely Coal fired , Gas fired and Electric , we decided to get an Electric grill.

Arranging gas supply at the place of grilling , especially if it is to be placed in the balcony or in the open may not be easy. While coal fired grills generate a lot of smoke and takes a while to get the coals hot.

Whereas an Electric Grill is easy to assemble , it is compact and smokeless. Easy to grill in the balcony or in the garden or indoors too. This is a smokeless, no hassle way to have a great time with your near and dear ones.

Choosing an Electric Grill Online :

After checking Amazon website for various Electric Grills, I placed an order on ‘Clearline BBQ and Electric Grill’.

This is how the package looks-

Here is the unboxing and Assembling video . Do watch the video for detailed instructions on how to assemble this Grill and I will also demonstrate cooking some grilled chicken. Took around 20 minutes to cook one batch of grilled chicken.

Hope you found the video useful 🙂

The oil drip collection tray is not strong and has to be handled and cleaned carefully. Fixing this tray is a bit tricky , but once put in place it doesn’t move . To clean the tray easily , just pour a little water to soak in all the dried stuff and it comes off easily.

For the ease and comfort of grilling with your family in the convenience of your home , I found that price is quite reasonable.

Here is a pic of the heating Element when it is ready for Grilling –

Enjoy the experience of Grilling and having a party in your Balcony , patio or garden using this simple and easy to operate grill.

This is the Electric Grill that I had bought. I find it easy and convenient to use.

~ Happy Grilling !! ~


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Lock-Down Dairies – 9 May 2020 : My ‘Natural Lifestyle’ Diet and Daily routine

Time to share the exact diet that I have been following since 15 Jan 20.

This is the diet prescribed by ‘Natural Lifestyle’ lead by Acharya Mohan Gupta.

BTW, you can get all the details of this organisation at http://naturallifestyle.in/

The Day starts with a few yoga stretches that I am comfortable doing .

Followed by Pranayama and Meditation.

Use the Cotton Patti for 30 minutes.

Coming to my Diet –

Pre Breakfast : 8am

The first meal of the day is a glass of juice made from Ash Gourd. I make the juice using a juicer and it hardly takes 5 min.

Breakfast : 10am

A plate full of Raw vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, Beetroot etc. along with a fist full of coconut slices.

Lunch : 1-2 pm

2 Composite Rotis with lots of Curry.

This is the only cooked meal of the day.

Tea time : 4-5pm

If hungry one can eat coconut slices , drink coconut water or eat a fruit.

5.30pm

Use Cotton Patti for 30mins

Dinner : 6-7 pm

A plate full of fruits . Any one type of fruit may be eaten .

Appears very meagre compared to the ind of food that we usually eat. Thats the reason for ending up with numerous diseases.

It is difficult initially but when we have to choose between food or health then the answer is very clear.

~Om Shanthi~


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Heal yourself.

Of late I have been watching a lot of videos by Anita Moorjani.

Currently watching videos of Louise Hay. Louise Hay says that feelings of Resentment , Guilt, Fear and Criticism cause disease and by certain affirmations of gratitude and love, one can get rid of these feelings, thereby getting healed.

Both Louise and Anita emphasise on loving ourselves and give lots of practical tips on how to actually love ourselves , something that most do not know and are not even aware of the importance of self love. Self love is not the same as vanity or narcissistic.

I have been watching their videos repeatedly and every time there is something new in their talks that makes sense to me and is more acceptable.

I am also enjoying the meditation videos by Louise Hay.

Louise and Anita are a boon to humanity. Both of them beat Cancer and are doing great service by sharing their healing experiences and methods with all.

Apart from all the medications one takes to heal the body, it is equally important to have a healthy mind which in turns helps in healing. Strongly advise everyone to read their books and watch their videos.

I recently came across a practice of ‘Chanting’ . A particular branch of Buddhism has popularized chanting ‘Nam Myoho Range Kyo’. A colleague introduced this to me. The mantra is the essence of Buddhism which says that every individual has the ability to overcome any suffering , any situation. By chanting this mantra , one’s faith increases. Simultaneously the universe also aligns with our efforts, thereby one can achieve their goals.

I also came across a video about ‘Grounding’. A new concept which requires an individual to sit and place their bare feet on the ground, preferably surrounded by nature , for maybe 10 or 15 minutes or more. Then imagine roots growing from the bottom of the feet and going deep into the earth. The imaginary roots then help in absorbing the energy from the earth and into the body. This process helps in calming the mind, relieving stress and in centering the mind.

Anything and everything to stay heal yourself and stay healthy 🙂


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To Reveal or not to Reveal

Having been diagnosed with MM in Oct 2011 and come a long way ,  a thought often arises in my mind as to whether I should reveal/discuss my condition with whom I spend a considerable amount of time.

A lot of people around me , at work , friends and relatives already know to some extent. They may not know exactly what I have been through. However my observation is that no one ever asks me any direct questions. Many of them come to know through various channels but prefer not to talk about it. 

Either they dread talking about this topic or they feel they shouldn’t cross a certain limit as health is supposed be a private matter or they don’t start the topic because I don’t encourage such a discussion or people are engrossed with their own stuff.

Whatever be the reason , I am quite comfortable with the way things are happening around me….ignorance is bliss 🙂

I myself have been through similar situations in the past , much before I was diagnosed, when I came across people who were diagnosed with Cancer and I would be terrified to even look at them. So , here I am , having survived Multiple Myeloma and writing from the other side :).

hmmm , what goes around comes around !!  

When someone asks me how I am doing , I give a big smile and tell them ‘I am doing well, thank you’. There are a few confidantes at work, with whom I share information about my tests, my medications etc . I also update my Boss who has a lot of interest in matters related to health / Alternative treatments and gives me some advise too.

There are a few online friends from school and college with whom I feel happy to share the status of my health.

Apart from my parents, brother and sister I do not discuss with any others in the extended family. Of course , hubby is a constant support 🙂

There are times when I feel tempted to share the link to my Blog with everyone at work, extended family and with all my classmates  from school and college. I guess I am not yet ready to openly declare…maybe some other time. I can already sense that a few are staying away from me and it is ok. 

I shouldn’t be thinking too much about who knows and who doesn’t and concentrate more on enjoying the present moment. 

The best part of this blog is I can let out all my feelings and share my MM journey and other random events in my life.

So glad I am finally stable. 

A few readers (MM patients/caregivers) of my Blog get in touch with me and I am more than willing to listen and encourage them. Gives me immense happiness to know that I have made a difference to them. I hope to get more opportunities to do my bit to humanity.

 

Life seems much more meaningful now.

 


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7th year after my Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Myeloma

The last six years have been the longest years in my life. Extremely grateful for being given a second chance to tread our lovely blue planet .

Been living each day with gratitude and lots of hope. Doing my best to share my experience with Alternative treatment via this blog. Have been able to manage my condition (Multiple Myeloma) successfully. It’s been 2 years since I stopped Chemo. So far so good. Was able to help and guide other patients with MM who came across my blog and got in touch with me . Gives me immense happiness.

Learnt a lot about the importance of diet , fasting etc for preventing and treating Cancer. Most importantly , I have experienced the Miraculous healing properties of Curcumin , for managing my condition. Curcumin has powerful healing properties which can treat several diseases.

Nothing else in this world is more important than being alive. Everything else is a bonus 🙂 . Yes, it does sound like I am selfish 🙂 . Take utmost care of your health and love yourself a lot. Be healthy so you don’t have to trouble your near and dear ones if you fall sick.

I am so thankful to my Doctors , family , friends , colleagues and other well wishers who have been supporting me throughout.

happy


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Back to Curcumin from Turmeric

Went for a few routine tests namely CBP , LFT and RFT on 23rd Jan 2018 and noticed that my Globulin Serum had further increased from 3.8 (Nov 2017) to 4.0 . I was a little worried and expressed the same to Dr Nithin , my Ayurvedic Doctor who then changed my medication from Turmeric to Curcumin. I was advised to use Turmeric instead of Curcumin , for a few months during the later part of 2017.

I guess it was too early for me to make the change from Curcumin to Turmeric . Curcumin is an extract from Turmeric and hence more powerful. It is the Curcuminiods in Turmeric which are effective in the activation of Apoptosis (cell death) in the cells.

It is now one month since I changed back to Curcumin. Meanwhile I was down with Sore throat and took Antibiotics during first week of Feb 2018. I discussed with Dr Nithin and he decided to increase the dosage of Curcumin (500mg) from 3 caps / 3 times a day to 4 caps / 3 times a day . Ashwagandha (500mg) was also increased from 2 caps / 2 times a day to 2 caps / 3 times a day.

Its been a month since my last tests and hence went for the routine tests yesterday. The reports were very good. All parameters were normal .

Hb is 11.2

Creatinine is .9

ESR is 34 , not yet in the normal range (0 – 20) . Not too bad , it was 65 last month.

Globulin serum is back to the normal range (1.8 – 3.6) . Reduced from 4 to 3.6 .

This is great news 🙂 . This was something that was worrying me. Feeling very happy now 🙂

yayyy_by_x_yuuya_x-d3aocig
Dr Nithin also told me to do a test named Metabolic profile c .
Awaiting the results of this test.


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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 dietitian 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.

you-have-come-this-far-dont-give-up-now-patience-quote

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 !!