Non-Medical Advice from a Breast Cancer Survivor.
Before starting chemotherapy, your Oncologist will give you information on what you need to do, what to expect, and a long list of side effects you could have while receiving treatment.
And while all that medical information is necessary and good to know, I would like to offer you some non-medical advice. Things I learned during my Chemotherapy treatments and advice I received from friends who have gone through it too.
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1. Don’t worry. 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 until you have the infusions. Don’t stress about it beforehand.
Worrying about them ahead of time won’t help. Instead, it may cause you to have some you wouldn’t have otherwise. A friend, who is an oncology nurse and breast cancer survivor, said 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 will reduce or eliminate any pain from 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.
2. Keep a positive attitude. Your attitude will directly affect how you feel. I know it can be difficult, but keeping a positive attitude is so important in your healing process. Now I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna here. I know how tough this is. It sucks! But try to find ways to smile and laugh.
Laughter is the best medicine and the happier you can be during this time; the healthier you will be through your treatments. Here is a list of ways to help stay positive during this time. Positive Actions that Promote Healing.
3. Try to stay on a schedule. I don’t know why but while I was on Chemo treatment I felt like I was in the ‘Twilight Zone’. Time seemed to shift, and things didn’t feel quite normal. It’s hard to explain it, but friends say they felt the same way.
What helps is trying to stick to a normal schedule or routine – waking up at the same time, going to bed on time, mealtimes, etc. There were, of course, days when I didn’t feel like doing it. Days when I slept most of the day, 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 just sweat pants and a t-shirt) and put on makeup (if I felt like it).
4. Don’t overdo it. This can be difficult. Especially if you are working, have children at home, or have other responsibilities that require your time and attention.
Try to pass on as many responsibilities as you can to others at this time. At the very least, only do the most important things. Trying to do too much at this time can make it harder for you to get through the chemo.
Your number one responsibility right now is to get rid of this cancer. And to do that you have to take care of yourself!
5. 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 achiness.
Read a good book. Watch your favorite movie again. Do whatever makes you happy and comfortable.
And if you have trouble with “Chemo fog” or “Chemo brain” try some mind stimulating activities like word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, online games, etc. It can help. And don’t worry, your “fog” will begin to clear when you finish with your infusions.
6. Talk to your doctor. If something is bothering you, let your doctor or nurse know. Don’t suffer through it. Even if it is something as simple as your nose being sore from dryness. Let them know. They have heard just about every side effect there is and will probably have a solution for you.
7. Stay ahead of the pain or discomfort. If your doctor has given you medicine for pain or nausea, don’t wait until you feel really bad before taking it. If you take it as soon as the symptom starts, you have a better chance of it going away or being milder than if you wait.
8. Pack a “Chemo Bag”. Chemotherapy treatments can take several hours so be sure to bring a bag of things to entertain yourself and to stay comfortable.
Here is what I included in my Chemo Bag that you may want to bring:
9. One last thing. Chemotherapy is tough. But you are tougher! Stay strong! This is only for a season, and you can do it!
And if you need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me. I don’t have any medical advice to give, but I can listen, encourage and pray for you. You can also leave me a comment below.