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Tips for getting through chemotherapy

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Comments

  • revkat
    revkat Member Posts: 122
    edited May 2008

    Check with your dr. about taking aleve/advil. Some oncos don't want their patients to, others think it is ok.

  • deecsw
    deecsw Member Posts: 19
    edited May 2008

    My onco nurse said that Aleve his fine, but she sees no reason for me to take it before the shot, that I shoud "wait and see if I have any pain first." She doesn't think it will do anything for me to take it 15 mins. prior to the shot. I am reading the contrary here...

    Reading through the tips, I see that both Aleve and Tylenol are recommended, so I was wondering which one people preferred and feel works better.

  • magentagirl
    magentagirl Member Posts: 11
    edited May 2008

    So helpful!!! Thanks to all of you. I am starting 6/11. I will print out your suggestions now.

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumping.

    Nico

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumping.

    Nico

  • Diana63
    Diana63 Member Posts: 57
    edited June 2008

    Bump for newbies Laughing

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008

    Da-da-da da-da da-da da da

    da-da-da da-da da-da da da

    Instead of "The Bump", I thought I'd do "The Hustle" for a change... har har. 

  • flyrzfan
    flyrzfan Member Posts: 199
    edited June 2008

    rock - you are a mess and I love you!

    Thanks for bumping...the June class is starting up now! For anyone else who's a procrastinator.....

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008

    Why thank you.  (I am assuming you meant I am a mess in the best possible sense of the word??!!)

    I've been meaning to tell you, I love the photo of (your?) little girl.  Such a smile! Such confidence! I love it.

  • flyrzfan
    flyrzfan Member Posts: 199
    edited June 2008

    absolutely....technically the saying is "a mess in a dress" -also in the best possible sense of the word! The photo is my favorite inspiration, my niece Lindsey. She is every bit as cute in her personality and tells me things like: she will always be my best friend...even when she grows up! LOVE her!!

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008

    Here's a bump for cutie pies and messes . . . and people starting chemo!

  • flyrzfan
    flyrzfan Member Posts: 199
    edited June 2008

    big week for june girls...I hope you're all ready.

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited June 2008

    The docs reccommend Tylenol. My neulasta really tired me out like a dead cell phone who needed to be recharged. I did have a chest pain and some aching, but the fatique was amazing. Today I feel kinda normal, even walked a mile. Round 2 is June 10 and I am gathering all my supplies so i can relax over the weekend. All the chemo tips are great. It is good to have the supplies on hand in little baskets  in the bath and kitchen, and have them portable as well for the carry bag for the car. In my wandering around the house I was able to fend for myself around my husband and son who don't like to talk about antinausea side effects. No girl talk in my house!!! I also got a cheap cute wig online from Vogue Wigs to wear whenever.  W

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008

    Bump for the woman I met at MSKCC today. (We bought the same cowboy-esque hat though it looked "I am a hat model" beautiful on her and only okay on me.) I hope she finds us.

    Warning: I'm gonna bump often. 

  • deecsw
    deecsw Member Posts: 19
    edited June 2008

    rockthebald--I am not the one you met at MSKCC today but I do go to Rockefeller Pavilion to see my PS for fills. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that gift shop. I have bought 3 hats so far plus some sleep caps. I need to stop going up there. Aren't the hats awesome? They get new inventory every week. And the prices are GREAT!

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008

    It is a gem, isn't it? The first time I went in (on Chemo #1) I just wasn't ready to browse. But yesterday was fun.

    BUMP. 

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited June 2008

    Another Tip: Refresh Eyedrops lubricate your eyes. I phoned the hospital pharmacist and asked and they reccommended these so I found them at W-M for $6. I tried them last night . What a difference. My eyes were so dry I was squinting a lot and regular drops don't work. My eyes are very sensitive to perfumes also and this does not bother me.W

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008

    Bump for June!

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

    This list was initially compiled on request by my friend Miki--a great favor to ask of a friend who wants to help! I have updated it periodically. Again, none of this is "new" but it might be helpful to someone (like me) whose chemo is starting on short notice. And the usual caveat applies: Not everything works for everybody!

    - Purell hand-sanitizer. I'd recommend getting a travel sized bottle as well to throw in your back-pack.
    - Tylenol (painkiller)
    - Biotene mouthwash (warning: Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride -- like Crest pro-health -- may stain your teeth.)
    - Imodium
    - Anticonstipation: Walnuts, pecans, dried apricots, prunes, prune juice, Colace, Miralax, Senekot-S
    - Pepcid
    - disposable flatware, plates and cups (for times when you're tired or immune-suppressed; plastic flatware helps offset metallic taste in mouth)

    - Sugarfree chewing gum
    - sugar free hard candy or breath mints
    - Protein food sources (e.g., peanut butter)
    - unscented moisturizer (if you don't already have it)
    - sunscreen (for face and for everything else; SPF 15+)
    - new shower curtain liner
    - new toothbrushes
    - another thermometer (since tracking temp matters)
    - squirt/ketchup bottle for bathroom rinses
    - at least one extra box of Kleenex
    - indiv packets of kleenexes (disappearance of nose hairs = dripping nose)
    - a box/packet of the flushable moist wipes (One of the posters noted that chemo "coming out" can be burning/uncomfortable; these could help soothe...er...irritated tissues)

    - Thing of Clorox-type wipes
    - artificial tears for dry eyes (consider Renew or Similasan brands)
    - acidopholus capsules for yeast infections
    - nonlatex gloves to wear when doing dishes, etc. to reduce nicks and cuts, at least on those low blood count days.

    Food
    - string cheese
    - unsweetened indiv things of applesauce
    - individ things of cottage cheese (I find smaller servings less daunting on a queasy stomach, and may be less wasteful in the long haul)
    - Eggbeaters
    - rice
    - crackers (inc indiv packets of animal crackers or Saltines to carry around or keep in desk drawer or nightstand for queasy moments. ER+ should watch out for soy -- it's in a lot of cracker sandwiches)
    - dried apricots and fruit (helps with constip)
    - lentil soup, black bean soup, chicken broth, or some mild soup, just in case you wind up with an upset stomach and need something bland to eat
    - orange popsicles, orange Pedialyte

    For those of us facing hair loss:

    www.sparklingearth.com/products.asp?category=100044
    http://www.bandanas.net/skullbest.htm
    http://www.myskullcaps.com/
    http://www.sungrubbies.com

    Pointers on tying scarves: http://www.coveryourhair.com/HowToTieTiechels.html
    http://www.tznius.com/ This has more extensive scarf tying instructions (click on link in nav bar or at the bottom of the home page).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8QTlOkiOxs&feature=related - how to tie African head wraps

    Cheap synthetic wigs: http://123wigs.com/wigstore/
    More expensive wigs: http://www.paulayoung.com/

  • lemonjake
    lemonjake Member Posts: 342
    edited June 2008
    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 a friend to assemble 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 on head starts to fall, a lint roller (I liked the velvet covered kind; others used the tape) helps to remove lingering hairs.

     • Hair in pubic area often starts to fall out first. (See May 08 thread to get a sense of when, where and how much hair is lost over time!)

    Food.

    Protein and iron rich foods may help boost RBC: Meat chili, clams, oysters, some beans, nuts

    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 June 2008
    I started a new conversation with the tips and shopping list I compiled, called "More Tips (and a Shopping List) for Getting Through Chemo." I remain eternally grateful to Melissa. I'm hoping, though, that a new conversation will be easier for me to update.
  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumping.

    Nico

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited June 2008

    Bumping and taking round  2 tomorrow. Just a little anxiety mostly about the volume of drugs in the next week but I did well last time and I have loads of supplies thanks to all the "tips ladies"W

  • MsKarin
    MsKarin Member Posts: 105
    edited June 2008

    In the list there is mention of the cocktail for sore mouth but no directions. My sister use to be an onco nurse and this is what she told her patients to use.

    Equal parts of any liquid benadryl and liquid Maalox. Only mix up what you are going to use. I would say about 1 teaspoon of each. Swish in mouth for a minute or two like a mouth wash. Then spit out.

    Enjoy the day, Karin

  • Diana63
    Diana63 Member Posts: 57
    edited June 2008

    Bump Laughing

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumping!

    Nico

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumping!

    Nico

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumping!

    Nico

  • Nico1012
    Nico1012 Member Posts: 1,152
    edited June 2008

    Bumparoo

  • wondering7
    wondering7 Member Posts: 33
    edited June 2008

    Bumping! Plus getting #2 Neulasta Friday. In for a quiet weekend/ week W7