The INS and OUTS of CHEMO/ Cancer Sucks

Things I wished I knew before chemo

Chemo helpers

 There are so many sites that help with chemo.   There are also chemo classes to help you prepare.   I just found that most items were things that people were selling or being told to sell.   I am not making any money off these recommendations.   I truly want to offer help.  Remember this is just what worked for me. 

Types of Chemotherapy I had :

I had 4 rounds of Adriamycin(Red Devil) combined with Cytoxan Chemotherapy.

I then had 16 additional rounds:  I had Taxol everyweek with Carboplatin added in every 4th week. (This series seemed to take forever because I didn't always make blood counts so I was delayed)

Before treatments:

* Mornings of treatment I would shower and dress comfortably.   I usually wore a button down shirt or a shirt that zipped for port access(linked)Chemo shirt.   Most mornings my husband and I would arrive early, have bloodwork and leave for about an hour to eat.   When we arrived back at the cancer center we would find out if my blood counts were high enough for chemo.   I would then put numbing creamNumbing cream on my port(about 20 minutes) before they tried to access it.   I am not sure if this helped but I did it each time to avoid access pain.

* I also took Miralax clear lax (I used the generic)everyday in the morning.   Constipation is a real struggle with all the meds they give you.

During Treatments:

* At the center I went to we had semi private areas for treatment.  There were TV's, books, blankets and snacks as needed.

* I never read, watched TV or slept.   I think I was too nervous.   I usually walked around with my IV machine.   Most(really no one else) did this.   I'm pretty sure I made people nervous but I could not keep still.   

Meds that I kept onhand that helped:

* Imodium:  this is recommended, however I did not have much diarehea, so I didn't take this.  The nausea meds they gave me constipated me terribly.

* Miralax: I took this daily and still do.

* Numbing cream:  I used this 20-30 minutes before port access to help with the sticking pain.  Not sure if it helps.  I did forget it a time or two and the pain wasn't terrible.

* Prilosec:  for heartburn/acid reflux- I had this a few times.  I have never had heartburn in my life and when this happened(usually on day 4/5 after treatment) I thought I was having a heart attack.

* Claritin( in the am) Zyrtex(at night): believe it or not this helps with body aches.  Your bones will ache terribly.  Especially if you get Nuelestra or other shots.  For whatever reason this helps.   You probably on need one but I took am and pm. I started taking them daily because once you have bone pain you don't want it again.

Other wonderful things that "could" happen during chemotherapy

* Mouth sores:  These happen quite often, with no warning or reason as to when.   If you feel them coming on you need to use something.  I used Biotin rinseRinse and Therabreath toothpasteTherabreath tpand mouthwash Therabreath mouthwashdaily.   I used this daily to try and ward off sores.   They did happen and the sooner I caught them the quicker they went away.

* Nails:  my nails never turned brown or lifted

* Hair:  If you are having chemo and want to wear a wig, get it immediately.  I wore a wig everyday for over a year.  My hair fell out 14 days after my first chemo.  This will be another post because it was a lot.  I did sleep in soft cotton caps slouchy headcovers or bonnets.  I will link what I bought.  Your scalp hurts when the hair falls out and your head gets really cold, especially at night.

Extra helpers:

*Water:  drink tons and tons.  I drank about 70 oz. a day.  I felt like it helped my body process the drugs.   

* Lotion & Chapstick:  Chemo dries out the skin.   You need lotionLotion and chapstick Best lip balm, ever!at all times( I will link what really worked).   The chapstick is fabulous. Lotion should be scent free because certain smells may bother you.

*Taste buds: These will be messed up!   Sometimes I couldn't taste other times food and water tasted like metal.  Normal taste usually comes back in 4/5 days-usually right before the next treatment.

*Tongue:  I had a weird symptom with my tongue.   There were times after chemo that my tongue felt like it was on fire.  No matter what I ate or did it felt like fire.  That usually lasted about 2 days.  I never found relief.

* Make up bag:  My friend suggested I carry my meds in a large make up bag. This was a great help.  Everything was always in one place.Make up bag

Chemo Schedule:

Day 1: Chemo day: I usually felt great.  They give steroids and they gave me tons of energy.  I didn't sleep much this day, even at night.  I took nausea meds (Zophran) this day.  I never really had nausea because I took meds on day 1-3.   I also didn't take the stronger nausea meds. The Zophran worked for me.

Day 2:  Day after treatment I usually had energy until mid afternoon, when the steroids started wearing off.

Day 3: I started feeling tired and worn out.  Started weaning off nausea meds.  

Day 4: Very tired and sleepy

Day 5: Still tired and sleepy

Day 6: Energy started coming back a little each day

Day 7:  More energy and about to start the process all over again.

I know I missed things.   Please message me if you have any comments or questions and I will answer.   I took me so long to process and learn this, I hope it helps!!   Hugs