Alcohol, Smoking and Drugs - a blog by Marion Foreman, former nurse and patient group chair, 

"I sometimes think that cancer comes with a high ‘sod it ‘ label.  You know the feeling – ‘Sod it – I’ve got cancer – I’ll  damn well get drunk every night, smoke as many fags as I want to and if I get the chance – I’ll do drugs’. 

Well – that is an approach you could take.  However, your body is trying really hard to deal with the cancer, the effects of the surgery and the treatment.  If you ask it to deal with alcohol, smoking and drugs it’s going to get overloaded and really will not do too well.

How to find a balance?  Right now you are probably grasping at straws, trying desperately to find things to help you to cope – chances are if you’ve never meditated / exercised / painted or written a journal then you might be struggling to take them up.  In time – you well might do all these new and exciting things.  But right now, you are craving the comfort of a bit of well known escape.  I don’t think anyone would be surprised if you went a bit mad and had a night on the tiles.  But could you stop it at one night? 

Your body is seriously struggling and any toxic substances (booze, fags, drugs) that you put in it just isn’t going to help.  Your liver and lungs have enough to do – don’t over load them even more.  Alcohol and chemo just don’t mix.

If you are receiving anti cancer medications, whether they are given intravenously or as tablets, you should refrain from alcohol / recreational drugs so that they can be most effective.

So, what to do?  If you need help with drink, drugs or alcohol you are not alone.  What services are available is dependent on where you live and but there are a couple of ways that you can find help.  You can rely on Google and find something in your area or you can talk to your GP.  And yes, I know that that’s not always easy.  It’s not easy from a practical perspective (getting through to your doctor) but it can be done.  It’s also not easy to admit (even to yourself) that you have behaviours that you want to change.  But keep in mind why you are doing this – it’s giving you the best chance to live well and to recover from cancer (and to prevent it returning).  Your GP wants this for you and the support to make changes is out there.  It’s what ‘Help Yourself’ is all about – helping you to live well and live longer. 

Of course, have a glass of wine with your meal (just the one) but lay off the recreational drugs and the cigarettes.  You will recover much more quickly if you love your body -  surgery, chemo and radiotherapy can all do their bit to stop the cancer – this is your bit."