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Can you drive yourself to chemo?

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Autum1031
Autum1031 Member Posts: 6

I'm newly diagnosed, as of 5/31, with a small tumor (thankfully) that also happens to be a TNBC and a Grade 3. I spent most of today at Yale Cancer Center, and it looks like my course of treatment will involve 20 weeks of chemo before surgery, so I can be part of a very promising clinical trial targeted towards TNBC.

Here's the catch: Yale is about 40 miles, or 1+ hour drive from my house, each way. I am newish to the area, and have no family or friends I can call on for help. (I moved out here from the Midwest a few years ago). My husband works in an hourly, manufacturing type job for a small employer (FMLA will not apply). He'll be taking time off for the really important things but he cannot possibly drive me to chemo every week, for 20 weeks. I also have my 6 year old son to consider, who will thankfully be in summer camp or school most of the time.

Am I crazy for thinking I *might* be well enough, at least part of the time, to drive myself? I did a tour of the chemo area and I did see a few people there by themselves. I really want to do this clinical trial, but short of a really expensive Uber ride I know of no other way to get myself there, short of driving myself.

thanks!

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  • metoo14
    metoo14 Member Posts: 165
    edited June 2017
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    Hi Autum, I'm sorry you are going through this, glad you have a treatment plan in place. I worked two jobs, six days a week for most of my treatment. I went to chemo in the morning then drove 45 miles to my job and back at the end the day. On Saturday I work as a mail carrier which is very physical. I did take some time off that job because I couldn't lift anything after surgery. Working and driving and going about your normal activities is very doable. But everyone is different and there is no way to really predict how you will react. Most people are ok but it depends on your type of treatment and luck I guess. But to answer your question, yes it is possible. I hope you tolerate it well and move through this with as much ease as possible.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited June 2017
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    Autum - I drove myself for 6 neo-adjucant chemo infusions - every 3 weeks for 18 weeks. I drove myself back for a Neulasta shot the next day. The drive was 45 min to 1 hour depending on traffic. Of course I had to have someone drive me to surgery since they won't let you go after anesthesia if you don't have a driver. I did not have a complete response, so I drove myself again every 3 weeks for another 10 weeks for another set of chemo infusions. And a Neulasta shot the next day. Then I drove myself every 3 weeks for the rest of a year for Herceptin infusions. In the mean time, I drove myself to a different medical center an hour the other way for rads every day for 5 weeks.

    I always took a book and was very comfortable being by myself. It gave me quiet time & I didn't have to worry about entertaining someone else.

    Try to go when it's not rush hour traffic. Make sure you have a back up someone to pick up your son from school or summer camp, as there will be times you won't get back as scheduled (pump breaks, blood tests not ready, double scheduling for the nurse, whatever) If you're not comfortable with the route, maybe you can drive it with your DH on the weekend or at nights to practice.

    You can do it.

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,650
    edited June 2017
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    I would definitely have someone drive you to and from the first chemo due to any possible reaction to the meds. I drove myself to several visits later on once my husband went back to work and I knew what to expect.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited June 2017
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    lillimae - good idea about the first one. If they insist on Benedryl in the mix to lessen the chance of an allergic reaction, you really shouldn't drive yourself. You can opt out from the Benedryl for future infusions if you don't have any reactions.

  • burner
    burner Member Posts: 32
    edited June 2017
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    Autum1031- just adding to what others have said. I would definitely have a driver for the first session. I was so loopy from the Benadryl on infusion days, that I wouldn't have trusted myself to drive. I drove myself to all of the day-after-chemo sessions for hydration and Neulasta, largely because I was hopped up on the steroids from the pre-meds that they give you during chemo.

    Give yourself ample time so that you're not stressed or feeling rushed about being late. I used to get such road rage, but the perspective from treatment has chilled me out a lot, go figure.

    There are some organizations that offer those with cancer treatment driving help: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/road-to-recovery.html

  • kicks
    kicks Member Posts: 319
    edited June 2017
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    I drove myself to all 16 of my chemos (4 DD A/C neoadjuvant and 12 weekly Taxol adjuvant) and my 25 rads with no issues at all. I could have had Hubby or Son take me but it was MY time to fight the battle and be the strong woman I've had to be and am all my life.

    We are each so unique and there is no 'One Size Fits All'. Only you can know kknow what is best for you.

  • denise-g
    denise-g Member Posts: 353
    edited June 2017
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    So sorry you are going through this!

    I drove 120 miles round trip for all the 16 infusions of 4 DD A/C and 12 weekly Taxol. It was my thing to prove I was in control and could do this.  Never once did I feel I jeopardized my safety, the safety of other drivers, or any passengers I had in my car.   But I did have someone with me the first round of AC and the first round of Taxol, as I wasn't sure what to expect.  Also,  I did have someone drive me the next day for Neulasta during AC as they didn't have the infusion gizmo when I had it.  I felt shaky the day after AC. 

    To be honest, I often had someone accompany me, but I preferred to be there alone. I enjoyed talking to the other cancer patients, enjoyed the quiet, felt like I could process fighting cancer when alone.  

    Also, I drove to all 35 radiation treatments but that was a 25 mile round trip. 

    Wise advice to try and schedule not during rush hour.  And there are always delays in the chemo ward -- stuff happens and delays happen.

     

  • kcat2013
    kcat2013 Member Posts: 53
    edited June 2017
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    All you ladies who drove yourself to chemo are amazing! I'm jealous :) and glad to know that not everyone felt as awful as I did!

    Autum, great advice from the others to have someone drive you to and from your first session so you can have an idea of how you will feel and what pre-meds you will get that might affect your driving ability. I ended up so dang sick from the chemo that I had to be loaded up on Benadryl and Ativan for each treatment so I was quite loony by the time I was done with each treatment--no way could I have driven safely. But it appears my experience was not the norm and so chances are you will end up like the other ladies who had no problem driving. I hope that's the case for you!


  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 782
    edited June 2017
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    There's no way I could have driven myself after my first chemo but by the third chemo it was no big deal.

  • ShetlandPony
    ShetlandPony Member Posts: 3,063
    edited June 2017
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    Ask your doctor or nurse this question. Much depends on exactly what drugs you will be getting.

    Here is a live version of the link that burner gave above, American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery -- Providing rides to cancer patients

    https://www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-...


  • ksusan
    ksusan Member Posts: 461
    edited June 2017
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    My issue wasn't chemo effects but that I was still sore from BMX and had restricted range of motion, so driving was too hard. I drove myself to all of my radiations, though!

  • legomaster225
    legomaster225 Member Posts: 356
    edited June 2017
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    I had a relatively easy time with chemo (AC +T) but I did have my husband with me at all treatments. I am pretty small and the IV benedryl I gotknocked me out for a few hours even though I received half the normal dose. I only got a steroid for the AC portion and the first 3 Taxol doses and then it was dropped. Everyone reacts differently though. I agree with taking someone for your first visits of each infusion.

  • Autum1031
    Autum1031 Member Posts: 6
    edited June 2017
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    Thank you, everyone! My husband will be going with me to the first visit and possibly the second, depending on how I react. I'm hopeful I can manage the rest, but I'll have to wait and see. The social worker at the Cancer Center also recommended the "road to recovery" program through the American Cancer Society but sadly there aren't any volunteers in my area.

  • kicks
    kicks Member Posts: 319
    edited June 2017
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    I don't think it is always rather or not 'you' CAN do it for some but what is 'right' for 'you' and your loved ones.

    I am a "hard headed" old WAC and Navy wife so I've always had to do whatever had to be done so there was never a question to me -I'd be the same as I'd always been. Hubby (of 33 yrs at the time) and Son (30) were there for me in all ways they could/I needed. (Hubby took over all house and dogs and my Bunny, Son took over all barn/horse chores so all I had to do was what I wanted to do.) Besides being what I'd always been - there was no way I would have had either of them taking me to have the 'poison' put in me and especially to have them there watching it. Of course they knew but knowing is different than watching it. The companies they worked for knew IF a call came from the hospital for them to get the info to them ASAP and they would have been leaving the job site immediately.

  • HelenFaith
    HelenFaith Member Posts: 20
    edited June 2017
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    I think it depends on your body and the drugs.

    For me, I have someone drive me. I am on 80 mg Taxol weekly, but find the Benadryl and steroids combo really do a number on me and maybe the anti-anxiety med, so my husband drives me. I am there for 4 hours, so a friend often joins us and we get a bite to eat afterwards (a nice way to spend time with loved ones). My friends and family are pleading to join me and I have tried to get husband to not go, but he "needs" to be there for himself. I think it's good to have others take you for the first couple and decide, but I would encourage you to let your loved ones take you if they are asking to. When my mother went through chemo, I needed to drive 3 hours to her home to join her for chemo, because I needed it for me, I wanted to be part of her treatment and support her.

  • mistyeyes
    mistyeyes Member Posts: 573
    edited June 2017
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    My husband took me to the first one, all I knew about chemo was what I saw on TV. I drove myself to all the rest of them. I did have Benadryl, but I was there for 5 hours - so I slept and was ok to drive home. I took my kindle and netflix binged, and a shawl to put around my shoulders, I also took my lunch and drink. lol- I always looked like I was moving in.

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,650
    edited June 2017
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    Moving in, lol, I think most of us look like that too. I bring house slippers and a snack bag. I always ask for two blankets and my free lunch or dinner is always the turkey on wheat. I finished the chemo part but still have to go every 3 weeks for H/P.

    image

  • Luckynumber47
    Luckynumber47 Member Posts: 53
    edited June 2017
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    I hate to be Debby Downer here but my dad's best friend was killed when a lady who had just finished chemo had a seizure and lost control of her car. If you MUST drive yourself please be sure you are not in anyway impaired

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited June 2017
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    Good post. Sorry about your Dad's friend. Yes, I made sure that I did NOT drive after the first round since they gave me Benedryl, which puts me to sleep. After that, I refused the Benedryl & was good to go.

  • kicks
    kicks Member Posts: 319
    edited June 2017
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    Was therre any documentation for the storu that chemo had caused a woman to have a seizure while driving? Perhaps no one who has ever done Chemo should be allowed to drive again based on the therory that Chemo causes seizures.

    I did drive myself to and from all my TX. I was not impaired at all. I worry about those who pop prescription drugs daily/continually but are on the roads.


  • lrwells50
    lrwells50 Member Posts: 74
    edited June 2017
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    Kind of a snarky comment, Kicks. MinusTwo doesn't post a lot of unsubstantiated stuff.

  • kicks
    kicks Member Posts: 319
    edited June 2017
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    irwells50- obviously my post was to 'Luckynumber47' whose post blamed her Father's friend had been killed by someone supposedly driving home from a Chemo that had suffered a seizure.. My post absolutely made no reference to MinusTwo (or any post of hers!).

    Try reading all the post and context before saying I was "snarky" to MinusTwo .

  • VegSexy
    VegSexy Member Posts: 14
    edited June 2017
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    I am doing 12 cycles of Taxol and Herceptin. I just completed cycle number 9 today. Woohoo! Three more to go!! Once I am done with this regime, I will do Herceptin once every three weeks till March 2018.

    My husband drove me to the first three cycles just in case I had a reaction to something. I had no reaction and after each one I said "You know, I can take myself". So, starting at cycle 4 I was driving myself. Like I mentioned above, I just completed cycle 9 and I'll continue to drive for the rest of the regime - unless something really strange happens, but I don't think so. I'm feeling pretty good with the exception of the wired tired feeling from the steroid.

    I am also working in the office, at home, and at the infusion suite. I workout, walk, go places, do things...you know - living my life as normally as I can :)

  • lrwells50
    lrwells50 Member Posts: 74
    edited June 2017
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    True, Kicks, you were snarky to LuckyNumber47.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited June 2017
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    Sorry - I agree with Kicks. I'm sorry about Lucky's Friend's Dad - but we really don't know why she had the seizure. Or any of the other circumstances. If it happened with any frequency, I'm sure we would have all been prohibited from driving by the medical community. The docs wouldn't want the liability for one thing.

    When I broke my arm, the doc told me that if I was driving with a sling & had any problems, it would be my fault all the way - no questions asked.

    On the other hand - people who TEXT while driving - drive me wild (pun intended). Where are these people's brains? Oops, in their lap with their phones obviously.

  • Beatmon
    Beatmon Member Posts: 617
    edited June 2017
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    When I worked as an RN in a dialysis unit, if we gave a patient IV Benadryl, they were not allowed to drive home. ...(after we had been giving it for a million years). I suppose that someone, somewhere had been involved in a vehicular accident after receiving it. Our Doc was very strict about this which is why I never drove after receiving it with the Taxotere. I certainly didn't want to hurt myself or anyone else...nor be sued for driving after receiving it and be in an accident. We all know what a litigious society we live in these days

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited June 2017
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    I definitely did not drive when I had Benedryl. I was perfectly fine with all the other chemicals. But then I insisted on a VERY slow rate of infusion - nothing less than 60 minutes and several at 90 minutes. I usually spent most of the day in the center so there was plenty of time to see if something was going wrong.

  • kicks
    kicks Member Posts: 319
    edited June 2017
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    Point is -Itwells50 - that anyone can have a seizure (or a heart attack or diabetic or alergic reaction or 'nothing') and can 'loose control of their car. Think about why so many States have limited cell use while driving. All I asked was if it was documented the supposed woman who killed a friend of someone else that was driving after Chemo in an accident if Chemo could be proven to be the cause of a subsequent seizure. I've done 16 Chemo (4 DD A/C neoadjuvant and 12 weekly Taxol adjuvant) so I shouldn't drive? WRONG!

    IF 'you' are not a competient driver to start with - who know what 'you' might do while driving or what issue might happen. Second/Third hand 'stories' should not be used as an undocumented scare tactic for those entering/doing Chemo. There is no one right or wrong way for all of us living with all the different types of BC. We are each so unique in all ways. What was 'right' for me is not for all- just as what was right for.someone else was not for.me.

    Debby Downer (aka Luckynumber47) I can assure you I was not 'impaired' at all for driving to or home from Chemo. I 'popped' no pills to just get there.


  • debiann
    debiann Member Posts: 447
    edited June 2017
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    I live close to my infusion center, so my husband would drop me off and pick me up. He was going to stay for the first round, but he looked so worried it was making me worry so I told him to go home.

    One thing to consider if you have a long ride is that they pumped you full of fluids so you may need to plan for a bathroom break on your way home. I always got the diarrhea shortly after my infusion, I was very happy to have a short ride home.

  • lrwells50
    lrwells50 Member Posts: 74
    edited June 2017
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    I have a 2 hour drive home, and after the first infusion, I would have been fine. We even stopped for dinner on the way home. The second one, though, he gave me 500 ccs of saline, because he didn't t like my creatinine levels. Saline shouldn't have made any difference, and it may have been because I was retaining water or something, but I felt "off" after #2. I probably would have been fine, but I was glad Paul was there. In my case, even though I could probably have called my sister who lives fairly close to take me home, there would have been the problem with my car stuck in Dallas and having to get it back to Paris. I think you should have a backup plan if you drive yourself, just in case.

    Kicks, it just struck me that you were automatically making the assumption that it couldn't have been the chemo that caused the woman's seizure. We don't know. And I agree that texting has caused way too many wrecks, but we should all be cautious, and not assume that just because one person was okay to drive themselves home from chemo, that we all would be every time. My last chemo, one of the women fainted coming back from the bathroom, and that kind of freaked me out. I think hers was more a long standing uncontrolled high blood pressure issue, but it was still scary.