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Tips for Side Effects

Dear Iris: Well, This Is Embarrassing

Dear Iris,

I’ve been struggling with diarrhea after treatment. I’ve talked to my oncologist about it and I’m currently taking medications to help with side effects, but the episodes still happen from time to time. With the holidays coming up I’m worried about how I'll deal with this if it happens during events. Any tips on managing such an embarrassing side effect?


Dear P,

Managing cancer-related side effects during the holidays (and in general) can feel tricky. While it’s always important to talk to your oncologist about any new or worsening side effects, there are some things you can do at home to help.  

  • Use the symptom tracking tool to help track your symptoms. This will allow you to spot any side effect trends (and when those are happening in your treatment cycle) and plan for a lighter schedule on those days. 

  • Carry a change of clothing in your car/purse/bag in case of accidents. 

  • Orient yourself to the location of bathrooms when you’re in a new place. This will help you more easily access the location if/when you need to excuse yourself. 

  • Schedule bathroom breaks often and before long trips. 

  • Consider meeting with an Iris Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to discuss dietary changes that can be made to help support a healthy gut. 

  • If you’re feeling up for it, host get-togethers in your home. This will allow you the opportunity to discretely step away if you need to manage any side effects. 

 If your side effects continue despite supportive medications and you feel like your quality of life is suffering, don’t wait to talk to your oncologist about further support or options.

Missed last week? Dear Iris: Missing Out

Jessica Suarez, BSN, RN, OCN

Senior Oncology RN

Iris Oncology

After working in various specialties throughout her career as a nurse, oncology holds a dear place in Jessica Suarez’s heart. Having supported family members and friends through cancer care has greatly impacted her desire to serve this specific population. Jessica has significant clinical experience working with head and neck, esophageal, and lung cancers and is passionate about working with patients to identify barriers or gaps in care and empowering them with the tools necessary to overcome them.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.