Boosting Our Immune Systems During Cold & Flu Season

Staying well as a cancer patient is crucial. 

Dealing with these crazy colds is hard when your immune system is suppressed. It is hard enough to stay well when you are at home, but it is nearly frightening to go anywhere or do anything when the cold and flu season hits. I never know if I should or shouldn’t wear a mask anymore. People stare, think I am the one with the disease and I want to scream out, “You are the ones with cooties! I am just trying to stay well from you!". Of course, that would be rude so I don’t do that, but that is how I feel most of the time. I don’t wear my mask as much as I used to anymore since they said I was cancer-free, but the doctor told me I should probably still wear it. 

For me, though I am cancer-free, I still consider myself a cancer patient because of things like this. It seems we are never free from the common colds or ailments that others can get then shrug off and go back to work. No matter where you are on your cancer journey, it is crucial that we do what we can to take care of ourselves.

My friends often laugh at my go-to remedy but I know it works for me. It has worked every single time I have gotten sick and thought I’d share.

I’m not a doctor so consult with your physician if you’re unsure of the effects it would have on you. All ingredients below are over the counter and readily available. 

  • A bottle of orange juice (I Like Simply Orange Pulp Free)
  • A container of Airborne or Walborn effervescent tablets
  • A box of tangerine or orange Emergen-C
  • Halls defense throat lozenges

I buy these ingredients as soon as I feel a cold coming on but you could prepare ahead so that you are ready if and when a cold hits your household! 

Every morning and every night starting with the first day of my cold, I take a small glass and fill it with orange juice. I drop one airborne lozenge into the orange juice and one packet of Emergen-C letting it sit until it all completely dissolves. I stir to make sure it's all mixed in and not settled on the bottom, and then I chug that bad boy down. I do this again in the evening before going to bed.

Doing this at the onset of a cold, makes them last about 3 days. If I start this regimen when I already have a cold, sometimes my cold is reduced to anywhere between two and five days, but it at least makes the symptoms more tolerable so I can function.  

The Halls defense throat lozenges are the best additive keeping the cough at bay and seem to be the best defense to add to this regimen.

I'm no doctor, but it works for me!

The only other thing I have added in recent years is something called gan mao ling. It's a Chinese herb you can get online. I originally got it from my Chinese doctor. I usually take it when I start feeling my throat swell or when my glands don't feel right. Again, it's one of those things that works better when you take it during the onset of the cold, but if you take it in the middle it will reduce the symptoms and start actually tackling what's really going on underneath.

My husband swears by gan mao ling and thinks that anything over the counter isn't even worth buying. He is a tried-and-true Chinese herb guy. He says gan mao ling tackles the actual issues and the over-the-counter things only mask the symptoms.

Again I am no doctor, I only know what works for me.

This regimen has been helping me deal with the horrible head cold or crud that's going around this year. Everywhere I turn it seems somebody has something they caught from somewhere or someone. 

Remember, staying healthy is what keeps us alive - even if you are not a cancer patient. These colds can take a turn for the worst, potentially turning into bronchitis and pneumonia. Those diseases are dangerous for anyone, especially cancer patients, so keeping them at bay early on might be our best defense.  

A word to those who are not in the cancer world but have friends or family who are: Please don’t bring your sick babies, kids, or significant others near cancer patients. If you have sick people in your house, it might be best if you stayed away from them as well. I ask my friends and family to stay away just to be safe. I don’t know who is or isn’t carrying a nasty cold virus, and you may think “I’m not that sick” but yet you could be carrying something that could put a cancer patient in the hospital. If you care about that person, I would think you would not want to be the cause of that happening. 

We know you love us, but maybe during times of the cold season, love us from afar.


Photo courtesy of Unsplash.