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Tips for getting through chemotherapy

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  • Joia
    Joia Member Posts: 25
    edited May 2008
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    Thanks, rockthebald, for the directions to the wig shop. I haven't cut my hair short yet. Is it possible or advisable to try on wigs until I do? I think I have a pretty small head, so I'd hate to get something that would be too big once I am bald. 

    Linda, good suggestion about Indian/Pakistani stores. Funny thing is that I actually sell scarves from India (a little hobby of mine) but I never picked up any large square scarves (only rectangular ones) in India because I didn't think anyone wore that shape anymore. Now I know better. 

    ---- Jo 

    Perhaps 

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited May 2008
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    That's a good question and I don't know the answer to it. My hair was already cut short when I tried on wigs. For what it's worth, though, most wigs have an adjustable band in the back. Plus, you wear the wig over a wig cap.  

    I'm sorry that I can't give you a straight answer! 

  • LorenaB
    LorenaB Member Posts: 91
    edited May 2008
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    I bought my wigs while I still had hair -- lots of it (my hair is/was really thick Cry).  They gave me a cap to wear under it, probably the same sort of cap that actors wear under a wig -- they don't always shave their heads if they need to change their hair for a role, right?  It wasn't exactly what the wigs would look like without any hair, but it was close enough to get a sense of whether or not it would work for me. 

    For those of you who are considering wigs, check and see if your health insurance will cover a "scalp prosthesis."  Mine covered up to $500!

  • mumito
    mumito Member Posts: 2,007
    edited May 2008
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    great tips will make great use of the info.  Thankyou

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008
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    bump 

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited May 2008
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    Here is a link for Summer Express: 101 meals to be prepared in 10 minutes or less. 

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/dining/18mini.html?_r=1&scp=10&sq=100+recipes&st=nyt&oref=slogin

    My favorite "meal" consists of cutting open an avocado, sprinkling it with pepper (and a little olive oil, if I'm feeling ambitious), and eating it with a spoon, right out of the skin.   

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited May 2008
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    Bumping it up.

    Nico

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited May 2008
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    Another bump!

    Nico

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited May 2008
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    Tips were all good ladies. Had chemo Tuesday 20. Been on a lot of drugs.!!! Would have slept throught them except for my husband at night wakes me to give them to me. No weird side effects yet. Neulasta tomorrow.I let you know if it hurts and how I handle it. P.S I raided the dollar store for bags and disposable gloves and drinking containers and kiddie ice pop makers and toiletries. Also found generic products for side effects at a brand name drug store BUT ALWAYS CHECK WITH THE PHARMICIST BEFORE YOU SWITCH TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PRODUCTS IN GENERIC. I also talked him into pushing his wife into getting a mammogram. He was truly worried for here and I said that it better to be afraid than sick so get her in there!!! Talk later W

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited May 2008
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    Tips were all good ladies. Had chemo Tuesday 20. Been on a lot of drugs.!!! Would have slept throught them except for my husband at night wakes me to give them to me. No weird side effects yet. Neulasta tomorrow.I let you know if it hurts and how I handle it. P.S I raided the dollar store for bags and disposable gloves and drinking containers and kiddie ice pop makers and toiletries. Also found generic products for side effects at a brand name drug store BUT ALWAYS CHECK WITH THE PHARMICIST BEFORE YOU SWITCH TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PRODUCTS IN GENERIC. I also talked him into pushing his wife into getting a mammogram. He was truly worried for here and I said that it better to be afraid than sick so get her in there!!! Talk later W

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited May 2008
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    Bumping it up!

    Nico

  • sueper13
    sueper13 Member Posts: 360
    edited May 2008
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    If you are having adriamycin, chew ice chips the whole time the adria is going in.  This will cut down on or prevent mouth sores. Also, I start using "sensitive" toothpaste three days before chemo so I can chew on ice more aggressively!

    For me, when I am having the no taste or metal taste se, I just drink a protein drink--nothing tastes good anyway, and this is at least good protein for healing.

    Also, I have a chemo notebook in which I keep copies of all cbcs, times for meds right after chemo to avoid losing track, temp etc. 

    Sue 

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008
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    A Pre-Chemo Shopping List:

    SCROLL DOWN (I re-posted it). I wanted to make it easier to find for the June starters. 

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited May 2008
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    Chemotherapy Tips

    I'd been collecting pointers from this thread and others which my friend Miki graciously compiled/organized for me, and I have tried to update along the way. As with all things chemo, everyone is different. What works for one person (or one therapy), may not work for everyone.

    My "chemo bag" Ask them to put together a small make-up type bag (say 4"x4"x6" or smaller) that you can move from purse to backpack back to purse or whatever that includes some of the stuff that's good to have on hand when you're out and about: digital thermometer, Tylenol, toothbrush, toothpaste, Breathsaver-type lozenges, chapstick, unscented hand lotion, eye drops, antibiotic ointment, Purell sanitizer or handwipes, Saltines or animal crax, Kleenex, thin cap to ward off any sudden chills. And maybe a maxi-pad in case of any port or drain mishaps. (Why this stuff? Important to ward off mouth sores, avoid fever/monitor temp, chemo dries out eyes, mouth, skin; lack of nose hairs causes drippy nose.)

    Pre-Chemo/Things to ask about
    • What sort of antiemtics (anti-nausea meds) are you getting? According to American Society of Clinical Oncology guidelines, everyone should be getting Emend (for nausea), a steroid (dexamethasone aka decadron is the most common), and a medication like Kytril or Zofran (the Aloxi you may get in your IV at chemo is in the same family of drugs). Drugs like phenergan and compazine are NOT considered sufficient but might be used in addition to the others.

    Possible side-effects

    A description of the functions and side effects of common chemotherapy drugs is available at www.chemocare.com.

    General care
    • Drink a lot of fluid, preferably water.
    • For moisturizers, you probably want something as scent free as possible (e.g., Aquaphor is recommended).
    • If you get a manicure or pedicure, bring your own manicure set

    To keep your overall health up
    • Make laughing and relaxing as important as cleaning!
    • Support your immune system with iron- and protein-rich foods (but check with doctor before taking supplement)
    • Careful with protein bars (or any other foods) that contain soy if you are ER+
    • Closing the toilet seat before flushing will dramatically reduce distribution of bacteria in the bathroom.
    • Replace the shower curtain liners.
    • Get soft, seam-free (or as seam-free as possible) hat for sleeping-in
    • Wear latex-gloves when cleaning to avoid nicks and scratches


    Metallic taste
    • Use plastic flatware instead of metal
    • Biotene mouth wash (and/or toothpaste and chewing gum, lemon/lime cordial, Breathsavers mints)
    • Oasis products were also mentioned

    Mouth sores
    • "If you get mouth sores, there's a little cocktail you can whip up with liquid benadryl and Maalox."
    • I put lemon or lime drops or slices into my water glass -
    • Someone recommended Vitamin C supplements but my dietitian said "No Vitamin C supplements for women with breast cancer EVER." (I posted her explanation elsewhere.)
    • Change your toothbrush frequently
    • Eating a popsicle or ice chips or something else very cold, while being given adriamycin

    Hairy tongue

    * Frequent cleansing with combo of water, baking soda and salt is recommended,
    * Sucking on lemon wedges to re-encourage salivary glands,
    * Brushing one's tongue with a toothbrush, hydrating with water. Cytoxan seems to mess with the salivary glands.


    Port care
    • The nurse may clean the port by injecting Heperin into it. A horrible taste can sometimes be avoided by holding your nose while the Heperin is injected.
    • A numbing agent may make entry in and out of the port less painful.*

    Pain/aches
    • Specifically if you are going to be getting Neulasta, Aleve was recommended as a pain killer for aches. The poster suggested taking one 30 minutes prior to the Neulasta injection, and then regularly for 2-3 days after.
    • Tylenol is the first pain killer of choice as it has the fewest possible side-effects (I was told "No Ibuprofen or aspirin.")

    Sleeplessness
    • Ambien CR
    • I'm nervous about "sleep aids" so the nurse recommended I take a Benadryl.

    Acid reflux/indigestion
    • An H2 blocker such as Pepcid or Nexium

    Constipation
    • Prune juice
    • Colace (docusate sodium) is an over the counter stool softener to have on hand.
    • Senekot-S is a gentle laxative with a little Colace added in.
    • Eating active culture yogurts (e.g., Activia) is recommended by some
    • Snacking on things like prunes or dried apricots can help
    • Lots of water helps here, too.
    • A square of chocolate ExLax the night of chemo, and another one the following evening. Then gallons of water and tea. Eat Activia yogurt every single day. The secret, the poster suggests, may be taking taking something at the same time as the chemo before things can get really bottled up, so to speak.
    • A cup of coffee when I"m in caffeine withdrawal seems to help!
    • Avocadoes (eaten straight out of the skin, w/ a little salt, pepper, & olive oil) are helping me out!

    Diarrhea
    • Imodium is good for stopping this
    • Key worry is dehydration, so keep drinking water!
    • Stay away from sugary things, as refined sugar can aggravate diarrhea
    • From a dietary perspective, you can try the BRAT diet: Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, which is often very helpful.
    • One recipe offered:
    o 1 Green Plantain (not banana) Usually Spanish stores or grocery have
    o 1 garlic clove
    o Olive oil
    o Boil the plantain and add a pinch of salt; mash it and add garlic and olive oil (note from Miki, I'd be very cautious about how much olive oil).

    "Nether Region" Care
    • Another tip - keep a squirt bottle by the toilet and rinse your self off with warm water after urinating for the first week or so. The chemo often burns on the way out, causing discomfort. An old water bottle or ketchup bottle. If soreness is still a problem, take Uristat or AZO - both over the counter. These are analgesics which help with the burning and pain. But remember to have yourself checked out if you have bladder symptoms, because lowered bloodcounts can lead to bladder infections.
    • If you wind up with diarrhea, I strongly recommend the flushable moist wipes; they really help with general soft tissue irritation.
    • The first few days after chemo, I use moist wipes to try to prevent discomfort.


    Hair loss (A/C around 14-19 days after first chemo)
    • Hair net!
    • You may want to get a silk or satin (very soft/smooth) pillowcase for when your hair begins to fall out; scalp may be sensitive.
    • I got my long hair cut short pre-chemo. No clue how to style short hair. My "stylist" said my I should style my new short hair with the tips of the fingers applied to the tips of the hair (rather than my hands).
    • When hair starts to fall, a lint roller helps to remove lingering hairs.

    Food.

    Here is a link for Summer Express: 101 meals to be prepared in 10 minutes or less.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/dining/18mini.html?_r=1&scp=10&sq=100+recipes&st=nyt&oref=slogin

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited May 2008
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    bump for Becky-IL!

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited May 2008
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    Great tips again. It sure helped me!!! So far no major side effects. Had Neulasta yesterday am and late last night had a chest pain but not enough for tylenol. Still waiting and watching for temperature change. If temp goes to 100.5 I was told to call and would probably get antibiotics but holding well just now.My blood counts were good and my nausea meds were lowered for round two. I was told to eat antacids med this week, only cooked, steamed, frozen, canned fruits and veges by my favorite nurse so we'll see. A little tired today and yes  a little chemo brain!!!! If you start out with supplies it helps when you are wondering around the house because you know where to find stuff .The pack a bag is great RocktheBald because I hand purell today in my purse!!!! And Tylenol!!And wipes!!!Thanks for the help!!! W

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited May 2008
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    Bump.

  • Viktoria
    Viktoria Member Posts: 2
    edited May 2008
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    On Wigs - My local hospital boutique has wigs but ranging from $100-250  I decided against getting one then the lady said they had a whole room of donated wigs and let me pick out two (I couldn't decide between being a red head or blond highlights). Then she gave me the location of two shop that give away free wigs for any chemo pt from the cancer society close by. I found out though I really enjoy going bald everywhere, even to work.  I think I look cute and It's so easy. Though a few mention I need to get some color on my bright white head, Has anyone tried the sunless tanning lotion?? I'm afraid to turn my head orange and then be forced to cover up. But I do need a little color and the weather is not cooperating here in Ohio.

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited May 2008
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    A gentle bump.

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited May 2008
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    Bump for the weekend! W

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited May 2008
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    Bump again

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited May 2008
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    A bump for Eddie!

  • Diana63
    Diana63 Member Posts: 57
    edited May 2008
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    Bump Laughing
  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited May 2008
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    Bump. Also I found an inexpensive fun wig  at Vogue Wigs online. I tried it on this am. I like it. My own hair is still all there, but I am waiting since I had all the meds last week.W

  • deecsw
    deecsw Member Posts: 19
    edited May 2008
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    Hi all,

    I was wondering what would be better to take to ward off bone pain from Neulasta shots...Aleve or Tylenol. Reading the Aleve bottle I see that there is a relationship to aspirin (?) and I know that there are bleeding concerns with aspirin. Would Tylenol Extra Strength be better?

    TIA!

    Dawn

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited May 2008
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    Bumping it up for the Newbies.

    Nico

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008
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    I'm a Tylenol kinda woman.

    Bumperoni. 

  • deecsw
    deecsw Member Posts: 19
    edited May 2008
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    So does it make sense to take Tylenol Extra Strength before the Neulasta shot as it has been suggested with Aleve?

  • Jo-Anne
    Jo-Anne Member Posts: 2
    edited May 2008
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    Just found this thread, what a plethora of information. I had a lumpectomy on May 20th, have to go back in on June 2nd to take more clean margin from an area. Not looking forward to that again. I'll see the medical oncologist on June 12th and hopefully will start the chemo soon after that. So much to think about, and this thread really has it all.

    Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend.

    Jo-Anne