Starting Chemo: Hi ladies I am starting... - Breast Cancer Haven

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Starting Chemo

Anita-B
Anita-B
β€’10 Replies

Hi ladies I am starting chemo for first time in a few weeks, I was wondering if there was anything I should be doing ahead of starting to help me cope with chemo and its effects, anything you ladies have learnt from your own journeys. Thanks x

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Jennymary

I didn't have chemo but I'm sending love and hugs for a smoothish journey, good luck xxxxx

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MrsNails

Hello Anita-B

Have you had surgery or are you having your Chemo first? What Chemo are you having?

My top tips would be if you've been told you'll lose your hair as most of us on Chemo for BC do

I'd get my wig now so you are ready for when you need it, is your hair long or short now? Mine was short anyway but it started to 'drop' & wouldn't hold its curl or style so I had it cut shorter but l knew it was ready to fall!

Get a couple of soft beanie caps as you'll feel the cold in bed & you may not want your wig in at first. You head does hurt a bit after the hair has fallen out but soon passes. See if you have any scarves that are suitable, if not you need jersey or cotton as silky ones slip, l got a couple of bandanas to to go over the little beanie hats.

Don't rub your hair too vigorously when washing & drying, keep it gentle & it may last a bit longer.

I had FEC/T & my Oncologist said day 15-17 & he was spot on.

Get yourself a couple of soft toothbrushes, good hand cream & cream for your feet as you can lose skin from there & l just had one area between my fingers that peeled. Nails need some TLC what are your nails like now? Mine were very long, so l had them filed shorter, wore very dark nail polish & increased my use of cuticle oil to a couple of times a day as opposed to a couple of times a week.

Plenty of body moisturiser & l indulged in an extra serum for my face.

Get some small packets of Handwipes to keep in your handbag & car etc and get in the habit of using them, invaluable.

If you feel up to it now make some soup & freeze it, if not you can always try carton or tinned as after the Chemo you can struggle to eat & it was lunches I had the most issue with as I always used to have a sandwich but couldn't eat bread, porridge is good for breakfast as long as you make it on the runny side! Melon is good it refreshes your mouth.

I'm sure the other ladies will be along with their tips & if l think of any more I'll message you again.

Very Best Wishes πŸ’

I've made it out through the other side & so can you, we do this with help from each other.

Any questions just ask, Breast Cancer Care is a good source of information & tips too.

Take Care 🌺

Mrs Nails πŸ’…πŸΌ

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Lainey66

Hi there😁 Mrs Nails has given some great tips there. Chemo affected my taste buds so something I did was buy chunks of tinned pineapple, just before a meal, eat two pieces of the pineapple, it opens your tastebuds and may make eating more manageable. I couldn't eat breads, butter, chips (anything oily) as tastes and textures were awful. I found I had a much healthier diet and ate slices of peppers, salads, raw carrots etc. Unlike Mrs Nails I was lucky and had no discomfort or pains when I lost my hair. I opted to just embrace my baldness, it actually gave me a sense of freedom in a weird sort of way. When having chemo I took a backpack with my laptop inside it, my book, puzzles and colouring book (never took to the colouring it made my hand ache πŸ˜‚) I took things to occupy my mind. I also carried a blanket my sister crocheted for me as there were times I felt a bit chilly. Also take water and sandwiches - they came around with soup and sandwiches but they were not the best πŸ™„ After my first chemo Infelt a bit on a high, I think it was nerves etc but as the days progressed I did suffer fatigue. Listen to your body! I feel you are tired do rest. I am 5 months after treatment and still suffer bouts of fatigue. Try staying away from people with colds and illness of any sort - you will be prone to pick up all sorts as chemo lowers your immune system. Keep a close eye on your temperature as neutropenia sets in quite quickly, unfortunately I suffered a lot with it. Generally just take care and look after you! Sending a big hug and good wishes for you throughout your treatment. Lainey66 xxxπŸ‘Œ You can do this xxx

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Hidden
Hidden

I think it depends in what you have as to how you will be, plus everyone is different and reacts differently , but generally as suggested already , headwear if you are going to lose your hair (or decide on cold-cap if you can ?) Take snacks and drinks , but don't drink too much as you need to unplug yourself and take the treatment with you when you go to the loo!) on that note go to the loo before they hook you up ! Wear comfy clothes, I usually fell asleep from the Piriton. Having someone with me was great , but not everyone wants someone with them. I would also batch cook some meals so you don't have to bother too much with that, and anything else which will make life easier for you whilst you are having treatment.

Having the treatment is generally fine , doesn't hurt except when they are putting needles in , but there is lots of waiting around, so take things to occupy you.

You should also buy a thermometer to take your temperature - in case you have an infection which if that is the case will need to be dealt with quickly. Also visit your dentist .

But of a random list I'm afraid , I've typed this as things have popped into my head !

Best wishes

Jo x

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MrsNails
MrsNails
in reply to Hidden

Yes, definitely see your dentist before Chemo especially if you think you need anything doing as you won't want him messing around with your mouth.

If you do get any issues with your mouth, tell the Team & they will give you a specific mouth wash that comes in sachets.

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Vic1970

Hi,my advice is stock up on water and flavoured ones too.Take senokot regularly and find an anti sickness remedy that agrees with you and if you have side effects ask if there's something to help with it,don't suffer in silence just because its a side effect.Make plans for days when you can't do anything and stock up on bland simple food,you ll find what works for you in time.Mostly ask advice from people who've been there,specially lovely helpful ladies on here.Hope it goes well for you,keep us posted.Luv Vicky. X

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Lorraineam

When you have your chemo you will be given tablets to take for 3 days. You will probably be given some tablets called domperidone to take up to 3 times a day as needed. After your chemo session go straight home and take a domperidone, even if you feel ok, then the other tablets later on. My first chemo I felt ok when I got home but was really nauseous from about 5pm. Taking the domperidone straight after I got home really reduced the nausea to just feeling a bit queasy

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Debster2016

Hi Anitab good luck with the whole thing, do use this forum for guidance and info and support.

Pre chemo I was given the choice of a cold cap which is supposed to help minimise hair loss but doesn't guarantee this and can give you a headache. Having taken Mrs Nails advice and got myself kitted out with a wig I chose not to have the cap.

Have you been offered a picc line? It's an alternative method to cannulation for administering the chemotherapy. Do consider it as it's only one needle instead of one per chemotherapy session. If cannula is used i strongly urge you to ask for a different site for each treatment, even if only moving up your arm along the same vein.

My most effective anti puke tablet is called metoproclamide, (poss same drug with different name to domperidone). I took it alongside the others for the 3 days tho the first time I only did so after ringing the hospital as they advised me to do so.

The steroids boosted my appetite so I filled my fridge with grapes, carrots, cucumber, peppers and the like and snacked on them initially with a bit of cheese and this week with lots of home made hummus. I've also got ginger and oat biscuits and Belvoir ginger cordial and ginger ale to help with the nausea.

Otherwise do ring the hospital whenever they tell you they need you to.

Thinking of you and sending support x

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BernM59

Well I found bland food - white toast and soft boiled eggs or scrambled eggs really helped ...make sure you complain loud and long if you are nauseous or have any other stomach issues - they can sort this with the correct meds / and peppermint capsules from holland and Barrett really helped at night

Go to bed when you are tired and don't push yourself - chemo kills all your cells which then have to regenerate and it is v tiring. Check everything dont just believe the doctors know best!!

Good luck!!

Bern

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Lula16

I wrote in my blog about this. I don't think I can place the link here, so I'll just copy the blog notes:

Osmosis

November 21, 2016

There are some things we learn when we are not seeking knowledge, rather, we find them through the unconscious - it just seems to happen. Much of this I've learned after speaking to those in the know or questioning as I go through treatment. I thought to write about what I've learned that is not told in the printed material handed out at the Huntsman like Halloween Candy. Although "Every patient is different" - and "Every cancer is different", I've thought to help those who want to cut that learning curve.

Hair:

On keeping it longer: Wear a beanie to bed so that you don't get that balding spot across the back due to rubbing, which would stretch ear to ear. Wash your hair by "patting it", not rubbing, and use icy cold water to keep the follicles closed.

It hurts to lose your hair. It feels as if someone hit your head hard, and the resulting stinging is what it feels like. The hair follicles are inflamed and the weight of the hair leaning on that little follicle is too much. And, it itches.

Solution: shave the head.

Eyebrows:

Since one will lose all hair (fast dividing cells are killed off), the eyebrows grow sparse and disappear.

Solution: Get them micro-bladed BEFORE they go so that the person doing the work knows where your brows grow.

Face:

Acne anyone? Due to hormonal changes from chemo, you may break out, even if you didn't as a teenager. And I thought I avoided this...but hey, maybe with acne, people will think I'm younger than I really am?

Solution: Get facials. Don't pick. Take care of your skin.

Mouth:

The cells inside of the mouth are fast dividing as well. It is imperative that the mouth be kept clean! My dentist, Michael Knight, provided two different mouthwashes: one to kill all bacteria;the other to seal teeth and prevent cavities from occurring in the all too dry mouths chemo patients wind up with.

I've since met several chemo patients who need thousands of dollars of work in their mouths due to not having a dentist aware of what just three months of chemo can do.

Solution: speak to your dentist!

Nose:

Chemo nose - aka chemo "buggies". Tiny little nose hairs called cilia are annihilated (fast reproducing cells) by chemo. And, since a blood thinner is given post chemo to "prevent blood clots in the port line", the nose is more susceptible to bleeding.

Solution: Bring tissues everywhere.

Calcium:

You need it. Take supplements, drink milk, etc. Many chemo patients complain of bone aches. Calcium, a mineral, is stored in the bones. Thankfully, I've avoided bone aches.

Solution: Chewable calcium supplements. Take them at night.

Skin:

Oh, the dryness is unbelievable! From my doctor: "Moisturize FOUR TIMES what you were doing before!" Seriously, I have never seen skin so dry, and dry skin equals painful micro cracks. I have tried a variety of salves and lotions to moisturize and have even purchased gloves to keep the moisture locked in and on longer.

Solution: Buy a variety of moisturizers. Find what words best for you. Keep moisturizer in your purse, in your car, etc.

Muscle fitness:

Taxol and Herceptin both cause muscle weakness. I've found the best way to combat this is to keep working out and keeping the muscles strong. Beat atrophy!

Solution: Work out with weights.

Weight gain:

This is presented to you as "You may gain or lose weight. We are more concerned with weight loss." Think of this: If the drug dexamethasone causes a weight gain of two pounds a week, where will you be at 12 weeks? This is a HUGE weight gain. Ask if the dose can be reduced. You'll sleep better, too.

Some of this gain is due to: water retention, an increased appetite, and lack of exercise.

Solution: flood your body with water, record your macros, and get moving.

Sleep:

Elusive. Sleep is necessary, and with the stress of cancer, the chemo drugs, and the dexamethasone, it is important to find a way to get much needed rest.

Melatonin did not work for me.

Benadryl does.

Solution: Address this concern with your doctor and inquire about sleep aids that won't interfere with your chemo treatment.

Fatigue:

The brochures and flyers will tell you that you will become more fatigued as time goes on.

What they don't tell you is that you really should figure out what is important to use your limited energy on: cleaning the kitchen or working out? (I'm going to choose what will keep my body strong!) Doing laundry or writing thank you notes? Seriously, I never had to think about energy stores before, and just a day packed with simple things is enough to wipe me out.

Solution: Plan your day. Allow others to help. Ask for help.

Chemo Brain:

Oh, this is real. Remember "baby brain"? This is worse.

Solution: Write everything down. Then try to remember where you wrote it!

Note: Info here is from my non-medical point of view. Check with your doctor(s) about anything and everything you have a question about.

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