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Write every day: Getting through chemotherapy without side effects

It’s been a week since my first chemotherapy infusion and I’ve had no side effects yet! While some of the effects can be cumulative, being able to keep them at bay this first week is a huge win for me.

In case you know someone going through chemo, here’s what seems to be working for me so far:

– acupuncture. Ryan Smith and I went into these treatments with the goal of limiting or eliminating side effects. I go right after I’m done with chemo and will keep that up for the next 3 months of my treatments.

– nutrition. I’ve read a few books and talked to a few registered dietitians about how to eat for health during chemo. I have 5-6 small meals per days, drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids, and eat only whole food. No junk food, no processed food. Lean protein and a mix of grains, fruits, and vegetables are incredibly Important. Smoothies with high quality plant protein are terrific supplements to meals. I also try to keep the flavor content up with a balance of FASS (healthy fat, acid, salt, and sweet). This helps keep my appetite stoked and my body and mind constantly fueled. To make sure my digestion is in tip top shape, I drink Smooth Move tea and also have plenty of fiber. The last thing I want is stomach pain in the middle of all of this.

– I rest when I’m tired and get 8-9 hours of sleep each night.

– I exercise every day, even if that just means light yoga and stretching. I also do a daily dance break for about 20 minutes, which feels great!- morning and evening meditation. A strong mindset is really helping. Even though what I’m going through is scary, I acknowledge the anxiety but I don’t dwell on it. I balance it out with powerful, strong images, soothing colors, and naming all of the things I’m grateful for. I have also told myself from the beginning that I didn’t want to have any side effects. Our minds are powerful!

– mental health counseling. I’ve been with my therapist Brian for 11 years off and on this month. That support has been crucial to every area of my life, especially now. I can’t overstate how vital therapy is when we’re dealing with difficulty. If more people went to therapy, we’d have a better world.

– breathing exercises. I have a little bit of congestion left over from surgery and the fact that it’s freezing here in NYC. For a few minutes each day, I sit and focus on breathing deeply. This helps the tightness that I always feel in my chest and it helps fight the congestion. I am also taking in about 10 minutes of steam every day with a cleansing essential oil.

– brain games. I’ve heard people talk about chemo brain where they feel foggy and confused. To counter that I play brain games, do jigsaw puzzles on my iPad app, watch science documentaries, read, and listen to podcasts. This is helping to keep my mind sharp and engaged.

– modern medicine. I am following every bit of advice my doctors have given me. They have me taking anti-nausea medication for a few days after the chemo to head off nausea I might feel. I take one pill in the morning and I’m good all day. I take an immune boosting medication, and then Claritin to combat the bone pain that can sometimes accompany the medication. That’s working, too. I also rinse my mouth a few times a day with biotene mouthwash to prevent any mouth sores. It’s doing the trick!

If this all sounds like a lot, it is. I’ve never had to track what I do and consume so thoroughly in my life. One thing I’ve learned is this journey is that my health is more important than anything. I’ve said that for years but now I know at my core what this truly means. I’m determined to crush cancer and close this chapter of my life healthier than I was before my diagnosis, and I’m dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make that happen. Thank you for all your love and support on this wild ride!❤️🙏🏼

About Christa Avampato

The short of it: Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day. The long of it: My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events. While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series. A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist. My company: I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media: • I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference; • I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable; • I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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