A woman meditating outside with a rising sun and lush trees and greenery around.

Trying Holistic Remedies

I am a 100% supporter of science-backed medicine. It is my medical team’s knowledge and care that has brought me back from the brink of my bladder cancer time and time again. However, it was actually my palliative care team that recommended holistic remedies. I could include more holistic remedies with my traditional care as a means to manage pain, stress, anxiety, and more mild symptoms. By incorporating natural and holistic practices with my traditional medical care, I have found that my mind and body feel more able to take on my cancer treatment. I would like to share a few easy ones that anyone can try. This does go without saying that starting any holistic or natural remedies should come after consulting your medical team.

Fluid retention

One of the lingering symptoms I have fought with post-surgery has been fluid retention. This is a direct result of having so many lymph nodes removed from my body. And the fact that Keytruda is notorious for increasing fluid retention. Because we do not want to add medication specifically for fluid retention at this time, I have been trying two daily practices. I have been wearing compression stockings pretty much from day one. But obviously, these are not something I wear all day, nor do stockings help with swelling in other parts of my body.

Remedy: dry brushing

So, a few months ago I started dry brushing as a means of increasing circulation and reducing swelling. There are many tutorials online about dry brushing and it is super simple to do. A quick Amazon search for a “dry brush” will give you many affordable options for a dry hand brush. On dry skin in the morning or evening (I prefer the evening before a shower) you will quite literally brush your body. There is a specific order and stroke direction recommended, but it isn’t difficult. Over the last two months, I have noticed a small difference, but at the very least it is a nice self-care routine at the end of a long day.

Racing and wandering mind

I am a professional at letting anxiety, stress, and fear amplify any pain I may be in. In an effort to reduce reliance on pain medication post-op and to handle times between medication doses when the pain relief was wearing off I began a practice of meditation. This was actually recommended to me by a very kind nurse while in the hospital. She had me put on my headphones with calming music, close my eyes, and breathe.

Remedy: meditation

Very quickly I was able to calm myself and through concentrating on my breathing. I was able to push through very severe pain. I continue using meditation whenever I feel overwhelmed dealing with my cancer when scanxiety hits. Especially when my insomnia makes sleep hard to get.

Deficient diet

No supplement or bowl full of kale is going to “cure cancer.” But a healthy body most certainly makes you more able to handle cancer treatment. I tend to always be low in calcium and potassium so I began taking a prenatal vitamin every evening. Why prenatal? Because this type of multivitamin is designed to be more gentle on your stomach and have higher iron content. It may be a placebo, but I feel better when I remember to take my vitamins. Along with diet, it has certainly helped with my nutrient deficiency.

Remedy: the DASH diet

This brings me to a balanced diet. Anyone with bladder cancer needs to protect their bladder and kidneys. I was recommended to start the DASH diet as a supportive method for my kidneys. It basically reduces salt, increases green veggies, and limits red meat. Under the guidance of my nephrologist and dietitian, we have noticed a significant improvement in kidney health and my dreaded fluid retention.

I am always researching and speaking with my team about things I can do to support my cancer treatment and give me the best odds of adding years to my life. I think practices that make you feel better and are approved by your medical team are always a great inclusion to your overall treatment.

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