This article originally appeared on the MetaCancer Foundation website

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”  Thomas Jefferson

How do you know what pain is bearable and what is too much? Pain is subjective and our own perceptions of pain can get in the way as we judge someone else’s pain. In general, the rule of thumb is “believe the patient about their pain.” To be more objective, patients can use a self-report rating system.

Rate pain on a scale of 0-10 in overall pain, intensity and frequency. Keep a pain journal to accurately record pain and how the medications helped or didn’t help. Do the same for side effects, such as constipation, sedation, nausea/vomiting and retaining urine.

Complementary behavioral therapies may help ease some kinds of pain. One trick is to blow through your mouth in short spurts during injections or short chemo treatments. Another is to use mind-imagery – during treatments, just talk with a partner about a favorite vacation, room in the house, etc. Counting backwards from five can help you endure a painful procedure.

Try using a “magic glove,” as a sort of self-hypnosis, to visualize turning down the pain. Or someone trained in therapeutic touch can move energy fields to reduce some of the pain. Know when to call your oncologist or oncology nurse. Ask them to teach you signs and symptoms. And don’t be shy when you need them. Further exploration of these ideas can be found on these links.


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