Apr 22, 2019 08:49PM MinusTwo wrote:
Bumping again for all the newbies. Such GREAT information
Regimens, side effects, and support from others going through chemo.
Posted on: Jun 6, 2008 06:29AM - edited Apr 24, 2015 04:59PM by Moderators
These lists may be read in conjunction with the conversation created by www.breastcancer.org member Melissaga ("Tips for Getting Through Chemotherapy") on December 6th, 2006. Melissa's tips are great. (Posts by member "otter" are invaluable, and reliable). (The initial list & tips were compiled by my wonderful friend Miki, though it has been updated and modified a lot since.) I got tired of bumping and reposting these so started a new conversation. I will update it until December 2008. As Otter has pointed out elsewhere, before you rent a U-Haul and head to Walmart to buy everything on the list, bear in mind that you are NOT going to need most of it! It's here as a resource for when/if issues do arrive, not as a list of must-haves.
You should feel free to distribute this info high and low, translate it, etc.! All I ask is that whenever the list is posted,
a) credit be given where credit is due to all contributors & editors (not just me, but also melissaga, the women of breastcancer.org, Mary C & Deirdre P., the "diffusers," any translators, etc!);
b) the "new" post(s) refer back to this conversation, which is the one I will update/assume responsibilty for, at least until December 2008; and
c) people clarify their changes & additions (misinformation is just too common and while I welcome being given the opportunity to correct my mistakes, I do not want to be held accountable for others'.)
The usual caveat applies: Not everything works for everybody! We all find our own path, admittedly, with the help of others on the path, and who have walked it before us.
P.S. Keep moving (e.g., go for walks). I swear it helps!
rockthebald, nyc. 43 (Today's my birthday!) Receiving treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2008. IDC, DCIS, LCIS. 1.8 cm. Stage 1/2-ish (T1No (i+) or T1N1 (mx)) Chemo: dose-dense, A/C + T.
A Pre-Chemo Shopping List
None of this is "new" but it might be helpful to someone (like me) whose chemo started on short notice.
- Purell-type hand-sanitizer. I'd recommend getting a couple travel sized bottle as well to throw in your backpack, glove compartment, etc. (Beware the scented ones; they can smell like cheap Tequila!)
- Tylenol (painkiller) or Ibuprofen (ask your oncologist which is preferred; some chemo drugs work the kidneys, others the liver so your doc may prefer one drug over another)
- Biotene mouthwash, Biotene also makes a small bottle of mouth rinse which helps prevent/treat sore mouth. Warning: Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride -- like Crest pro-health -- may stain your teeth. Seriously.)
- Anticonstipation: Walnuts, pecans, almonds, dried apricots, prunes, prune juice, Colace, Miralax, Senekot-S, activia yogurt (No need to buy all of these. See what you need & what works for you!)
- 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 (some people prefer lemon flavor) or breath mints
- Protein food sources (e.g., peanut butter, nuts, clams, oysters, meat, avoid soy if you are ER+)
- unscented moisturizer
- sunscreen (for face and for everything else; SPF 15+)
- new or washed shower curtain liner (minimize bacteria, mold)
- new toothbrushes (mouth is really vulnerable to infections, sores; oral hygiene is super-important)
- another thermometer (since tracking temp matters)
- 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 (I use these wipes the first few days after chemo to prevent the discomfort/burning that may accompany urination; these may help soothe irritated tissues. Others use a squirt bottle.)
- Thing of Clorox-type wipes
- artificial tears for dry eyes (consider Renew or Similasan brands)
- acidopholus capsules for yeast infections if you're prone to them
- nonlatex gloves to wear when doing dishes, etc. to reduce nicks and cuts, at least on those low blood count days toward the end of treatment.
- 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 (bland, protein)
- brown 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:
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).
- You Tube: search "how to tie head wraps." The video is by galaxyswurl.
Inexpensive synthetic wigs may be available on ebay
(Don't rule out just going "bald bald" most of the time, and wearing sunscreen. I did and it was much cooler -- NYC spring/summer -- and easier to forget about the hairloss. See breastcancer.org "Starting Chemo in May 2008" conversation)
As with all things chemo, everyone is different. What works for one person (or one therapy), may not work for everyone.
My "chemo bag": (A great project for a friend). Assemble a small make-up type bag (say 4"x4"x6" or smaller) that you can move from purse to backpack back to purse to car or whatever that includes some of the stuff that's good to have on hand when you're out and about: digital thermometer, Tylenol or Ibuprofen (ask your onco), 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, mouth rinse. 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.
A description of the functions and side effects of common chemotherapy drugs is available at www.chemocare.com.
• Drink a lot of fluid, preferably water. And when I say "a lot" I mean "a normal lot" not so much that you get sick from drinking too much water! You want to be well-hydrated (makes it easier to draw blood and to start an infusion; helps metabolize the drugs post-chemo, too).
• For moisturizers, you may prefer unscented lotions (e.g., Aquaphor is recommended; I liked Udderly SMOOth with urea, available at www.drugstore.com).
• If you get a manicure or pedicure, bring your own manicure set
To keep your overall health up
• 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. I was told to flush twice first 2 days after chemo (I was on A/C).
• Replace (or wash w/ bleach) 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
• Use plastic flatware instead of metal
• Biotene mouth wash and/or mouthrinse (and/or toothpaste and chewing gum, lemon/lime cordial, Breathsavers mints)
• Oasis products were also mentioned
• The mouth sore cocktail: Equal parts of any liquid benadryl and liquid Maalox. Only mix up what you are going to use (about 1 teaspoon of each). Swish in mouth for a minute or two like a mouthwash. Then spit out.
• I put lemon or lime drops or slices into my water glass -
• Some women recommend Vitamin C supplements but my dietitian said "No Vitamin C supplements for women with breast cancer ever." (I posted her explanation elsewhere on www.breastcancer.org.)
• Change your toothbrush frequently
• Eating a popsicle or ice chips or something else very cold, while being given adriamycin
* 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.
• 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.
Locating "Good veins"
• Regular exercise (e.g., a walk) seems to help lessen or prevent Neulasta pain for many of us
Sleeplessness (esp in first few days post chemo)
• Ambien CR
• I'm nervous about "sleep aids" so the nurse recommended I take a Benadryl.
• An H2 blocker such as Pepcid or Nexium
• Eating fiber in days before chemo can help prevent/lessen constipation. And trust me, constipation on chemo can be excruciating.
• Prune juice (you can mix it with Milk of Magnesia for a "cocktail")
• 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.
• 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 lots of water and tea.
• Eat active culture or probiotic 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 (if you've gone 'off it') may help!
• Avocadoes (eaten straight out of the skin, w/ a little salt, pepper, & olive oil) are helping me out!
• 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
"Nether Region" Care
• 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.
• Bleeding hemorrhoids are not uncommon if you experience a lot of constipation. Prevention is key! Lotsa fiber! If it does develop, Tux pads can make you more comfortable, or baby wipes. And Colace or Fiber One or a stool softener can help you avoid straining.
• Someone else keeps a squirt bottle (like a water bottle or a ketchup bottle) by the toilet and to rinse off with warm water after urinating for the first week or so. The chemo often burns on the way out, causing discomfort. Remember to have yourself checked out if you have bladder symptoms, because lowered bloodcounts can lead to bladder infections (or is it the other way around?)
Neuropathy and Hand Foot Syndrome (associated with the Taxanes)
* Ask onco about taking 50 mg of B6 to address neuropathy (tingling, numbness that often appears first in feet and hands)
Hair loss (A/C around 14-19 days after first chemo)
• Hair net to wear at night!
• You may want to get a silk, satin or flannel (very soft/smooth) pillowcase for when your hair begins to fall out; scalp may be sensitive, stubble can gouge! (My sister made me a flannel one.)
• 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).
• About 18 days after my first A/C, I had my head shaved.
• When hair on head starts to fall, a lint roller (I liked the velvet covered kind) helps to remove lingering hairs.
• Hair in pubic area often starts to fall out first. (See Starting Chemo May 2008 converation to get a sense of when, where and how much hair is lost over time!)
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.
And 101 fast recipes for inspired picnics
Check with a dietician or a nutritionist about supplements and multivitamins. (My A/C + T regimen may contribute to bone loss. I checked with MSKCC dietician & a nutritionist and they recommended I take Calcium Citrate, Magnesium, Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) during chemo (and forever) to combat bone loss. They said "not during chemo" to everything else, including a multivitamin. They also said "never" to most soy products [I am ER+] -- only 2 servings a week-- and Vitamin C supplements.)
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Apr 22, 2019 08:49PM MinusTwo wrote:
Bumping again for all the newbies. Such GREAT information
May 21, 2019 11:38AM erin_t wrote:
I have a tip for those new to constipation, or medications that cause it. If you're taking anti nausea medicine, take colace that day and keep taking it. I took it for the week following my AC treatments.
See, being a vegetarian and previously healthy, i didn't have hardly any experience of what constipation feels like. I didn't recognize it for what it was at first.
So don't suffer like me. Take the colace.
May 21, 2019 02:34PM - edited May 21, 2019 02:36PM by MinusTwo
All of my docs recommended Colace and or Sennacot S if the former isn't enough. Especially after anesthesia or if you're taking pain killers. There's great thread about constipation that isn't really active but I'll find it and post the link
Here is the Constipation thread link
Jun 5, 2019 06:10PM MinusTwo wrote:
Good going Nico. I just copied the link to another thread, as I usually do. Guess I should bump at the same time to keep this more active.
Jun 20, 2019 09:10PM MinusTwo wrote:
Bumping for Beve
Jun 21, 2019 03:53PM Butterfly1234 wrote:
My best friend is on treatment 6 of 8 and has developed a dry cough from the chemo. Does anyone have any suggestions on what she can do to relieve these symptoms
Jul 20, 2019 05:11PM MinusTwo wrote:
Doubling down. I often just copy this thread for people who are new, but you are so great about keeping it active, Nico. Thanks
Aug 5, 2019 07:22PM Melmax wrote:
ACT for dry mouth lozenges- a friend found them for meat Walgreens in a blue box.
Aug 6, 2019 12:15AM MinusTwo wrote:
Thanks Melmax. I'll post again to keep this going and I know Nico will hit it up later in the month.
Aug 15, 2019 12:06PM PiperKay wrote:
This list helped me immensely during chemo, so I thought I'd pay it forward with a few tips of my own now that I'm almost five months out from my last treatment.
First and foremost because I wish I had found it much much earlier is this bra from True & Co. It is completely wireless, so light and comfortable while being very supportive (I usually wear 36B or 34C, so the medium is perfect in this bra), but the best thing is that it doesn't irritate the skin at all over the port because it just stays in place. I had such problems with bra straps and fabric in general rubbing or just brushing against that very sensitive area, but now that I found this bra, I am so happy! Of course, my port comes out in less than a month after I found it. Oh well, but I'll keep wearing it because it is SOOO comfortable. I've already purchased 4 of them! Also, my physical therapist thought it was great and has already recommended it to other patients.
But here's the website: https://trueandco.com/bras/wireless/true-body-v-neck-bra/dulce
And I think this link will take you to a promotional offer of $15 off your first purchase. https://www.talkable.com/x/qy6QtR
Second, you will see lots of recommendations for various products, but there are two that really made me feel best about myself during chemo and while my hair was growing out. For those of you who will be going through chemo in the cooler and colder months and have decided not to "wig out," I highly recommend a style of cap known as the slouchy beanie. It is very comfortable, comes in multitudes of colors, fabrics, prices, and styles, so you can wear them for any occasion, casual to formal, and the best thing is that they don't scream "chemo!" In fact, it took me a while to find them because they aren't often advertised as being appropriate for those undergoing chemotherapy. When I got tired of seeing what was available when I searched for "chemo" headwear, I branched out a bit and found these. I'll be wearing them again even with hair once fall and winter come around. And here is an example of one of my favorites, and you get two for $12! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M05LZXY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The other product type I would recommend is an eyebrow kit that allows you to essentially create your own eyebrows that look very natural just with a little makeup, mostly an eyshadow type powder or gel and an eyeliner type pencil. Here is an article that gives you some ideas for what's out there now. https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/tips/g8723/best-eyebrow-shaping-products/
Granted, these things are more for outward appearances, but they are relatively inexpensive - unless you get in a buying frenzy like I did with those beanies! - and can make a big difference in making you feel normal - at least on the outisde. It may have been an illusion, but with my beanies and my eyebrows, I believe that it was extremely hard for the random person on the street or in my office building to tell I had lost my hair at all. I just looked like a normal person, which really helped during those days when I certainly didn't often feel like one.
Best of luck to everyone starting on their chemo ride. It's up, it's down, it's all around. A lot like an amusement park ride, and you won't want to ride it again, but you'll be able to say you did it and be proud.
Aug 16, 2019 10:39AM MinusTwo wrote:
Glad to see new ideas.
Oct 19, 2019 12:13AM MinusTwo wrote:
Bumping for Chickadee
Oct 26, 2019 03:22AM Vicki3 wrote:
PiperKay—Thank You for the post of amazing tips! I am a newbie here and have just completed my first of four Chemo infusions. Well, actually, I completed it on 10/17 and have been pretty sick until now. Thanks to all the information on this site, I think I have a good understanding of hair loss, products to purchase and even the mouthwash recipe to use if needed.
You are all great and I am glad I found this special place! I feel less alone now.
Thank you all for that.
Nov 17, 2019 01:28PM MinusTwo wrote:
bumping for Chelsea
Fantastic information everyone
Nov 22, 2019 10:54AM MinusTwo wrote:
Chelsea - glad you found it. I really should remember to bump it more regularly. Nico has been good about doing that.
Nov 26, 2019 11:04AM MinusTwo wrote:
Cathy - it 'bumps' a thread that is otherwise not very active to the "active" thread. Many people check active threads without searching further in this site.
Sorry you had to join us but hope you will find helpful information.