When you are being treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it is likely that you will have symptoms of the disease and side effects from treatment, too. For instance, the lymphoma itself can cause symptoms such as pressure or pain. Or the tumor may interfere with the function of an organ.
The treatments to destroy lymphoma cells can harm healthy cells at the same time, and that means treatment can cause side effects. These can affect each person differently. Some people have none, while others may have many. Some side effects may change over time, while others stay the same. Some may be temporary, while others may be permanent.
When side effects occur, they can interfere with your day-to-day life. These side effects can range from fatigue and hair loss to more serious problems such as organ damage. Some side effects may worsen other symptoms. For example, if you’re depressed or not sleeping well, you may be more tired. As a result, if you are having pain, it may feel worse. Getting relief from one side effect may help you with others.
Treating lymphoma to get the best results is important. But your quality of life also matters. Let your doctor and nurse know if you are experiencing any side effects or discomfort. Make sure to tell your doctor or nurse how these problems affect your day-to-day life. Your healthcare team is there to help you manage your symptoms as well as to treat your lymphoma.
It’s normal to worry about any problems you may have. You may ask yourself, “Is the lymphoma getting worse? Are the treatments working?” Talk with your doctor and nurse about your concerns. You also need to let them know as much about the problem as possible. Keep a record of the following information, take it to your doctor appointments, and bring it up with your doctor.
What the problem is. Describe the problem (diarrhea, depression, appetite loss) that you’re concerned about. Be as specific as possible.
Where the problem is. Is there a specific area that is affected, such as your stomach or your head?
When it started. How long have you had the problem? Did you first notice the problem before or after a treatment session? Is it a constant problem? Or do you notice that it’s worse or better at certain times? Does it come and go?
How bad it is. If you had to rank the problem on a scale from 0 to 10 (0=no problem, 10=worst it can be), where would it rank?
Triggers that make the problem better or worse. Are there certain activities or environments that affect your symptoms?
How the problem affects your day-to-day life. Have you had to stop any activities because of the problem? Has your life changed because of the problem?
What you’re currently doing to manage the symptoms. Is it helping? Be sure to share any complementary or alternative therapies that you may be trying at home.
Some people find it helpful to keep a chart of their symptoms. Yours might look something like this.
(What did you do? Did it work?)
Tried to watch a funny video, but couldn’t pay attention. Put a cool, wet cloth on my forehead and lay down in a dark room. After nap, felt better.