Non-Medical Advice from a Breast Cancer Survivor
Before starting chemotherapy, my oncology nurse practitioner went over the medical information on what I needed to do and expect during my chemotherapy treatments. She also gave me an extensive list of every possible side effect that might occur during and after receiving treatments.
That day, I walked away from her office feeling more informed but also overwhelmed and scared of this new treatment phase I was entering.
And, I left with even more questions than I originally had before my appointment. These were the non-medical questions the oncology nurse didn’t cover during the chemotherapy training session.
Thankfully, I received answers to these questions from friends who had gone through chemotherapy treatments and were willing to share their experiences with me.
So, now I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.
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Non-Medical Tips You Need to Know Before Beginning Chemotherapy Treatments.
Don’t Worry About Possible Side Effects
The list of possible side effects is just that – Possible side effects. You will have some, but you won’t have them all. And you won’t know which ones you will have until you begin your infusions. So don’t borrow trouble by stressing about it beforehand.
Worrying about them ahead of time creates anxiety. Worrying could even cause you to have side effects you wouldn’t otherwise experience. An oncology nurse and breast cancer survivor friend told me she noticed that patients who were afraid of having nausea often had more nausea than those who weren’t worried about it.
Your doctor can prescribe medicines that reduce or eliminate any pain or certain side effects, like nausea. So, don’t worry about the side effects. If you have any, you and your medical team will find a way to make them manageable.
Keep a Positive Attitude
You may not feel like it, but you need to keep a positive attitude because your outlook will directly affect how you feel. I know it’s not always easy, but staying optimistic is vital in your healing process.
I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna, and I do know how tough this is. It sucks! It’s difficult to be upbeat when going through treatments but smiling and laughing are good for the body, mind, and soul.
The happier you can be during this time, the healthier you will be through your treatments. If you need a little help staying positive during this time, check out Positive Actions that Promote Healing.
Try to Stay on a Schedule
I felt like I was in the ‘Twilight Zone’ while on Chemo treatments. Time seemed to shift, and life felt surreal. Nothing felt normal. It’s hard to explain precisely how I felt during that time, but other friends say they had the same experience.
What helped me was sticking to a regular schedule or routine – waking, eating, sleeping, etc. There were, of course, days when I didn’t feel like doing it. Days when I slept more, and that was okay. I needed the rest. But those days were the exceptions. I found it was better to wake up, get dressed (even if it was only in loungewear), and put on makeup (if I felt like it).
Don’t Overdo It
As women, It can be difficult not to overdo it. Our lives are busy. Especially if you’re working, have children at home, or have other responsibilities that require your time and attention.
But it’s essential to your health that you don’t. Trying to do too much during this time can make it harder for you to get through chemo.
During chemotherapy, your energy level decreases, and fatigue is a problem. The best way to deal with this is to eliminate everything you don’t have to do and focus only on the priorities in your life. In addition, try to pass on as many responsibilities as you can to others.
Remember, your number one responsibility right now is to get rid of this cancer. And to do that you have to take care of yourself!
Pamper Yourself During Chemotherapy Treatments
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is by taking time to rest, relax and pamper yourself.
I found taking bubble baths with Dr. Teals Foaming Bath with Pure Epsom Salt, Soothe and Sleep with Lavender lavender, and Epsom salt was calming and helped with the pain and achiness I felt after treatments.
Other ways to relax are reading a good book, watching a feel-good movie, or doing whatever makes you happy and comfortable.
And if you’re having trouble with “chemo fog” or “chemo brain,” try some mind-stimulating activities like word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, online games, etc. They can help. And don’t worry; your memory and alertness will return to normal after your finish your infusions.
Talk to Your Doctor if Something Bothers You
Chemotherapy can cause all kinds of minor aches and pains. Let your doctor or nurse know if something is uncomfortable. Often, they can do something to address the discomfort.
I remember having problems with stinging during one of my infusions. It felt like ants in my pants. It wasn’t unbearable, but definitely uncomfortable. I mentioned it to my nurse, who immediately knew what to do. She was able to dilute and slow down the speed of the medicine that was causing it, and I never had the stinging sensation again.
So, there’s no need to suffer through something, even if it’s something little or seems too silly to mention. Let your doctor or nurse know. They’ve heard just about every side effect there is and will probably have a solution for you.
Stay Ahead of the Pain or Discomfort
If your doctor has given you medicine for pain or nausea, don’t wait until you feel bad to take it. If you take it before or as soon as the symptom starts, you have a better chance of the pain going away or being milder.
Your oncologist has prescribed these medicines for a reason. They are to keep you feeling the best you can during chemotherapy.
Pack a “Chemo Bag”
Chemotherapy treatments can take several hours, so bring a bag of things to help entertain yourself and stay comfortable.
Here is what I included in my Chemo Bag that you may want to bring:
One last thing to remember!
Chemotherapy is tough. But you are tougher! Stay strong! This is only for a season, and it will pass. You can do it!
And if you need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me. I can’t give you any medical advice, but I can listen, encourage and pray for you. You can also leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.