• Activity while doing chemo

    Asked by Chinita on Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Activity while doing chemo

    Hooray 5th day after chemo and I feel lots better! I now feel well enough to make a trip to the supermarket. However, my oncology nurse told me I am not to go out into "public places" while doing chemo. I should have asked exactly what exactly that meant. I am not sure if I am really to be housebound and not go where there are lots of strangers around. And Is this for the period just after getting chemo, or for the entire time?

    41 Answers from the Community

    41 answers
    • Bb31565's Avatar
      Bb31565

      Really....just take hand sanitizer and clean off the cart, don't touch anything and if in doubt use the sanitizer. Keep your hands away from your face. What would the nurse expect you to do if you were single? Don't let the cancer control you but you control it as much as possible. I went to a Gala with thousands on the day of chemo....the Dr said I could as long as I took a nap when I got home before the event.

      about 7 years ago
    • TiffanyJ's Avatar
      TiffanyJ

      They suggested I avoid crowds too, told me to be careful. I went shopping, but kept hand sanitizer around, wiped the carts off, washed my hands as soon as I got home, etc. I do have a friend who is taking it seriously and won't go out, has her family shop, wears a mask if she absolutely has to be in public. Some ladies work as teachers, nurses, etc while on chemo! But your oncologist knows you and your health, so probably best to ask if there's any particular risk for you? I did avoid shaking hands at church, hugging people sometimes, eating food at potlucks.. avoiding those kind of public settings is probably a good idea. This time of year is tough with colds going around, hope you stay healthy!

      about 7 years ago
    • lynnann1975's Avatar
      lynnann1975

      In the beginning I didnt venture out too much. Since my bloodwork has been fine im back to the gym..shopping..etc. just wash ur hands a lot n bring hand sanitizer. Ask ur Dr. Every case is different.

      about 7 years ago
    • TiffanyJ's Avatar
      TiffanyJ

      And I forgot to say, it's good to hear you're feeling better!

      about 7 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      As you say, you can ask your nurse for specifics. I'd say that everyone I knew during my treatment years ago and two friends who just finished treatment--one for Hodgin's and the other for breast cancer--continued their pre-treatment lives but were much more careful, doing what others here wrote. They did avoid big gatherings (no public transportation, no movies, no big parties). I did take the subways throughout the four A/C treatments, worked and played when I felt up to it. I'm glad to hear you are feeling well. Best, Carool

      about 7 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Oh, one other thing in response to your question: Your immune system will be compromised during the entire time you are on chemo, not just the days or week after each treatment. Once your chemo treatment series is completed, your immune system builds up. Your oncologist or oncology nurse will know how long it takes until you no longer have to take such precautions.

      about 7 years ago
    • Brielle's Avatar
      Brielle

      My activities depend on my white blood count and this is monitored closely. If the count is low, I tend to be very cautious , avoid crowds and use precautions as mentioned in other comments. If they are ok , life as usual with lots of hand sanitizer and common sense.

      about 7 years ago
    • BabsWon's Avatar
      BabsWon

      I think if you receive a Neulasta shot after each chemo, like I did, it will bring your blood counts up faster. I was told to avoid crowds. I worked all through chemo and pretty much went wherever, whenever I felt strong enough. I always wash my hands and I never caught anything, not even a cold. Take care.

      about 7 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      Anyone undergoing chemo has a compromised immune system and should stay away from crowds the entire time while their are undergoing chemo and probably for a month or so after treatment is completed! This is especially true for you now because it is flu and cold season. Did you get a flu shot because some of them are safe for cancer patients. But even if you have had a flu shot it is smart to stay away from crowded public places, so if the weather permits I would do walks outdoors in a park. And believe me I know how you feel about being house bound but please stay away from places that will be crowded, pick smaller shops and markets if you can and stay away from the big malls and Costco, stores like that are especially unsafe because of the amount of people there. If I can be critical, it does amaze me that so many sick people go out in public to infect others...I know that they aren't thinking but it is a very selfish thing to do- go out while sick- and it keeps people like us from going out as well. I wear masks in public sometimes which causes a lot of looks but it is what it is. I also never touch my face after being out in public, without washing my hands first. In fact the first thing that I do when I get home after being in public places is to run in the house and wash my hands with soap. Take care and good luck!.

      about 7 years ago
    • Lynne-I-Am's Avatar
      Lynne-I-Am

      HI Chinita,, I echo the other answers on the site. I too carry hand sanitizer. If going to the grocery store I go early when not crowded. I have gone to the movies but wait several weeks after it has opened and pick late morning or early afternoon showings with sometimes as few as twelve or fewer viewers present. I am currently more cautious since the flu has been reported as wide spread here. Had the flu shot but we know the shot is not 100 percent. When I see my regular physician I wear a mask, because that is where the sick people are sure to be.

      about 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar
      karen1956

      I worked full time during chemo in an elementary school....my onc did not forbid me from doing anything that I wanted to do....I had chemo on Thursday and went back to work on MOnday.....I felt pretty lousy the first few days after each chemo and probably didn't go anywhere other than to the clinic for IV hydration....My youngest was in grade 2 and I went to her Shakespeare performance that was in downtown Denver with lots and lots of people a week after chemo #3...went out for dinner for my b'day around the same time......Went to a concert but this might have been after I finished chemo...don't remember....
      That being said....I don't think there is one standard protocol.....ask your onc what his/her opinion is....I know that my onc and the onc nurse were not always on the same page and the onc for me had the last word!!!

      about 7 years ago
    • Chinita's Avatar
      Chinita

      Thank you all . I guess, just be very careful is the answer and maybe depends on the type of chemo? I will have to confirm with my doctor if there is anything more specific (Karen - I cannot imagine going to teach in an elementary school while having chemo!! Gives me hope that it won't be that bad)

      about 7 years ago
    • avonlea02's Avatar
      avonlea02

      This is my second go-round with chemo, and I have to work. It is really hard, I must say! However, I do take precautions where I can. Hand sanitizer is a must, and I have that and sterile wipes all around the office. My co-workers were kind enough to move me from the front desk into an office where I am less 'in the open' to germs as people walk by.

      I have not gone to a movie or to any event where I might have to be sitting right next to someone and not be able to move away. I do go shopping, but keep an eye out for who is around me. I know that's not fail-safe, as one sneeze or cough can come from anywhere. But I try to move away from people, get what I need and move on. I do not take public transportation at this time, if at all possible.

      So far, the only infection I got was from the hospital at my last chemo infusion. Because I had a reaction to one of the chemo drugs, I must be admitted now to receive it. Fortunately, two days ago was my last infusion for this cycle of this drug, and so far, so good as far as opportunistic infections. Last time, I got a wicked sore throat; but got over it.

      Just be as careful as you can, and as sanitary as you can. I agree that not giving up to cancer and stopping "your life" is maybe not the best way to be. For me, I need to be as close to living my life as I can, for as long as I can. I believe this, along with a determination to be joyful and grateful - and stick my finger in cancer's eye - is helping me to beat this beast.

      Hang in there! Live your life as full as you can...but carefully!

      Linda

      about 7 years ago
    • Chinita's Avatar
      Chinita

      Linda...I'm so sorry you are facing this again. I am so thankful I don't have to work while doing chemo. I felt so terrible for 4 days, no energy at all and so nauseated. Makes me feel that, if you can work while feeling this way, I must be able to get through this too. You ladies are so inspirational.

      about 7 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar
      leepenn

      my mantra during chemo was CLEAN HANDS!!!! i work at a huge state university, and i had a strict foam in policy for my office… people were hugely understanding about it - i would simply say - i'm immune compromised - would you please use this hand sanitizer before coming in? we did the same thing at home - 4th graders bring home germies galore!!!!

      i also finished minnesota winter without a cold nor flu. project success. actually, even now, i'm better at keeping my hands clean…

      anyway, i worked through chemo, which was fine most of the time… i rode my bike every day… i was social with my friends… i did stay away from huge crowds but that was it. let's see… there was about 1.5 weeks during which my counts did the drop-o-rino, and the nurses suggested i stay in… i still went to work, but i was extra vigilant about my hands… cleaned my keyboard and phone and stuff… and emerged without complication… phew!

      so… i'll suggest you ask your health care team about this… mine said that i should treat chemo like an inconvenience… they told me that people who tended to keep as much of their daily routines in tact as possible did the best… so, that's what i tried to do… was i successful? probably like 80% of the time. yeah - sometimes, i just had to take a little nap… and i missed a few half-days during the last two ac cycles… if i had it to do over, i'd do it the same… helped me stay sane and focused on things other than cancer…

      good luck!

      about 7 years ago
    • buckhannon's Avatar
      buckhannon

      I was told to stay out of crowded places where there might be more germ exposure. I didn't really limit myself that much.. just was carefull until my blood counts were back up after each treatment. No way was I going t be housebound when there was a Big Mac out there with my name on it.

      about 7 years ago
    • kathykkl's Avatar
      kathykkl

      Please talk to your dr. about this. Some are more susceptable to illness than others and really must avoid being exposed to colds, flu, etc. My GP was very specific that I avoid exposure: no grandchildren, parents of children, wear a mask when needing to go out in public, no restaurants, salad bars, etc. I really did feel like a recluse, LOL. But it was a small price to pay for avoiding illness during the flu season. A lot depends on your personal health issues and lifestyle, so get clarification from your dr. The funny part was that when I really needed to shop I always wore a mask and people avoided me, thinking I might give THEM something contageous 8-)

      about 7 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar
      JennyMiller

      CAUTION was my rule. I made every effort to stay away from crowds. Three places that people will go when they are sick are -- Church, Grocery Store and Pharmacy. So, I did not go to Church while on Chemo (my husband is a Deacon and he would bring Communion to me). I did not go to the Pharmacy. I did go to the Grocery Store but I would go at 6 or 7 AM when it would be just about empty and I would use the sanitizing wipes on the cart handle. I would enjoy going out to dinner so we would go early -- 4 or 5 PM and I would ask to be seated in the back booth or the far corner table. I stayed away from family when they were sick, etc. The flu did hit my family -- even my husband -- but my efforts paid off because I never got sick during chemo. Good Luck!!

      about 7 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      So many good answers here, and I must tell you that everyone is different, and every doctor is different. I went through chemo in the summer, so it wasn't cold and flu season; perhaps that's why I didn't get the whole stay away from people in public thing. There was a brief time when alergies joined the mnix to make me feel lousy, but that only lasted until I got away from the offending alergens. I wore a mask and gloves when cleaning out my cat box, washed my hands a lot and pretty much stayed in the house when I felt rotten. Normally, 5 days after each infusion, I felt strong enough to go out, and I had been known to attend a lakeside church picnic (provided I floated in a ring per my chemo nurse's advice), eat pot luck meals or ate in restaurants (as long as I abstained from fresh fruits and veggies), and go to stores (on the condition I took it easy upon my return home) with friends anywhere from 7 to 20 days after each treatment. The first 4 days or so, I didn't give a rip if I went anywhere because I was so tired and weak. My first treatment had me so sick I couldn't do much of anything except for drink insure, feed the kitty, and use the computer from bed, but treatments 2 through 6 came complete with steroids and Neulasta shots that boosted my white blood cell count so I was able to function more normally. Just take it easy and use common sense.

      about 7 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      PS I am so glad you are feeling better today! Please relish your "healthy" days and do whatever you can, for on your "sick" ones, you will become good friends with napping! Take it from someone who's been there done that and got the T-shirt! HUGS and God bless!@

      about 7 years ago
    • JudyW's Avatar
      JudyW

      Well, for goodness sakes, I am a single mom and a high school teacher, and my oncologist never said anything even close to that to me. I taught full time and missed only one day of school during my six months of chemo. I went to the grocery store, fed my pets and cleaned up their messes, and took care of my 10/11 year old son. I did have help with meals, but that was really about it. The only other time I missed from school was three weeks post double mastectomy. My surgeon wanted me to take six, but that wasn't happening.

      about 7 years ago
    • Chinita's Avatar
      Chinita

      Judy W (and others who worked) I am in awe and curious. I felt so bad the first four days after chemo, literally didn't even have the energy to email or watch TV much, and constant nausea. Didn't you feel that way? If so, what did you do to combat it ?

      about 7 years ago
    • Bb31565's Avatar
      Bb31565

      I teach Special Ed in a middle school. I have chemo on Thurs and take Friday off too...back on Monday. The students (900) in the school all know and are really good about the hand sanitizer. Some days I'm exhausted and come home to bed. I will teach until I feel I am not being helpful to a child then I will take the time off until it is over....so far 3 down and 3 to go!

      about 7 years ago
    • avonlea02's Avatar
      avonlea02

      I think that the ability and decision to work while one is on chemo is very individual. When I first was diagnosed, I had extensive surgery followed by chemotherapy. I could not work at that time, because I had so much to heal from. The chemo just knocked me out, also. I was on short term disability for 7 months.

      Then, less than a year later, thyroid cancer was discovered and when my thyroid was removed, complications arose and I ended up with a 10-week tracheostomy and damage to my vocal cord. I had expected to be out for about a week, and ended up being out for 4 months or so. Upon returning to work, the ovarian cancer now became the issue again, and I had to start chemo again for that.

      Because I had used up all my "time", and did not want to lose my job, I have worked through this chemo cycle. Fortunately, my employer is supportive of me and I now have FMLA time that seems to insure that I will keep my job. I believe they would like to keep me on, and I would like to work for as long as I can.

      However, I have been told this cancer is likely to be chronic. Working through chemo has been incredibly hard for me, and I basically work, come home, crash on the sofa and go to bed, only to repeat it the next day. I have just finished my 8th cycle of Carboplatin, which wipes me out and makes me so sick. I will continue on Avastin "indefinitely". Depending on how I feel as I go along, I will decide whether to work or not going forward. If I am in remission and can get some time under my belt before (if) cancer hits again, I will work. If it returns, I believe I will stop. I am taking this day by day, but I want a good quality of life, as much as I can.

      One thing I am missing by continuing to work is that I cannot avail myself of the healing classes that are offered during the day; yoga, rehab/exercise, support groups, etc. I am simply too exhausted after work to attend them at night, so far. I also do not have the energy to visit with my friends and family, and now is when I would like to do that. So it is a double-edged sword!

      Do what is best for you, know that chemo gives us the chance to beat this and that you are not alone. I am glad you are feeling better! Keep rejoicing in that; it makes a difference!

      Linda

      about 7 years ago
    • sidjen1's Avatar
      sidjen1

      i don't know your chemo schedule, but mine was every three weeks. the first week was when i would feel yucky, the second week i called my "quarentine week". the week was my "get out and do it" week. the 2nd week was hard because i felt fine, but had to avoid public places. i didn't go grocery shopping or to church or anywhere with large crowds. it was only for this week really. however, as my chemo sessions progressed, i did have to be more and more careful. you are not totally housebound, just be cautious.

      about 7 years ago
    • sidjen1's Avatar
      sidjen1

      sorry, i meant my third was week was my "get out and do it" week.

      about 7 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar
      debco148

      There really is no reason not to go out during chemo or resume normal activity after that 3rd or 4th day of feeling out of it. As long as your blood counts are normal, you've gotten your shot of Neulasta, and you are not going to be around a lot of folks with the flu. Just be aware that you may tire easier at times, etc. I was able to do a pretty strenuous kick boxing class and regular Zumba classes a few times a week during chemo..after the first couple of days when you are taking anti nausea stuff and feeling in a fog. It actually helped me mentally and by doing so, it reduced my side effects and made me feel all around better. So no reason to isolate yourself!

      about 7 years ago
    • Teachergirl's Avatar
      Teachergirl

      Like others have said, rely on your own immune system. I have a friend who wore a surgical mask when she was on chemo and out during cold and flu season. I tended to shop at off hours (early in the morning) so as to avoid the germs in crowds. I work in schools and continued to work but did stay out of the daycare/preschools while on chemo. Best wishes for continued good feeling!

      about 7 years ago
    • baridirects' Avatar
      baridirects

      I had Neulasta shots after every treatment, and my white blood cell counts measured every week - they never fell to a point where I was advised to isolate myself, above and beyond avoiding air or cruise travel, the Florida theme parks (I live near Orlando), eating at buffets, and practicing good personal hygiene. On the other hand, my chemo was during the summer, when there was less risk of being exposed to the flu. I got a flu shot in October, about 3 weeks after my chemo was completed.

      I would agree you should seek out some clarification as to specifically what your nurse meant. As others have said, you may simply need to plan your trips to the supermarket during low volume times.

      Namaste,
      Christine

      about 7 years ago
    • HOBO's Avatar
      HOBO

      I wish you well. I was so sick from the time the first ounce of chemo hit MY system until We stopped treatment after number four. The first week I could hardly raise my head. The second I isolated including no visitors except hubby. By the third week I would begin to rebound and if nausea and diarrhea was controlled, I would meet friends for a meal out in a quiet place and then it started all over again. Once the neuropathy put me in the wheelchair I just limited life for convenience then rads started daily. Work? Not even COULD I imagine it. I was just too sick. I am four months post chemo and six weeks post rads, most days I can do about six hours and then need a nap. If I over do, I am down a day. I thought I was going to continue my life throughout treatment. Doctors just smiled and said we will.see. My mind is willing now, but the body NOT so much. As long as I do daily b12 shots I do better. Ugh. So many are able to do it all. I could not!!

      about 7 years ago
    • midgieb's Avatar
      midgieb

      I know everyone is different but I would ask the question as to why. I have been on taxol & carboplatin for 3 years with stage IV uterine cancer & I have never been told to stay away from people or pu blic places. I will say my blood counts have never been real bad so maybe that is why. I was told not to get my teeth cleaned one because my red or white blood count was to low not sure which one. Good luck to you. I hope you dont need to stay inside.

      about 7 years ago
    • sueoop's Avatar
      sueoop

      Chanita, everyone is different. While on Chemo, I worked and went to the gym nearly everyday. My Dr.'s were surprised by how well I felt and how little the chemo interfered with my every day plans. In fact, I scheduled my chemo appointments at the facilities closest to what ever I had planned to do for the rest of the day or what I had just been doing, shopping, a class at a gym or meeting with friends.

      I hope that you are as fortunate as I was. Good Luck to you!

      about 7 years ago
    • Chinita's Avatar
      Chinita

      Sueoop, I hate you. Kidding.!!!!! So far I have not been as lucky as you, the 4 days after chemo I was wiped out and the worse for me is the nausea, even with meds . Also it was very odd, I was very fatigued, but could not sleep. (by the way, I dont know if this is a no-no question, but anybody tried marijuana, medical or otherwise? I hear that it helps a LOT with the nausea and sleeping) . So if I get 10 days out of 14 feeling the way I do today (mild nausea, can eat regular small meals, not super energetic but can do daily chores) I will be thankful. I do chemo every two weeks so am praying it does not get worse than this. I am dreading next week already (I have to be more positive, I know). For everybody's info I did check with my doctor, and she told me basically the same as most of you guys: which is, I can go "out" but it is flu season and I must try and stay away from events where there is a big crowd, especially the second week after chemo, when I suppose I am more susceptible.

      about 7 years ago
    • Chinita's Avatar
      Chinita

      I want to add, even if I don't mention you individually, I read everyone's comments and everyone is so inspirational and encouraging. Trying to find the strength you all have shown.

      about 7 years ago
    • Roadrunner's Avatar
      Roadrunner

      You need to be careful during chemo with contact with large groups of people, however, my guess is that they told you that because this time of year and especially right now there are a lot of flu and junk going around and that is something you don't need to catch. My cousin does my grocery shopping for me and that works out really good.

      about 7 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      You probably should check with the nurse who told you that and have her clarify what she meant. That way you will know for sure if you can go out in public or not.

      about 7 years ago
    • virginiab's Avatar
      virginiab

      When I was in chemo, I didn't go to movie theaters at popular times, although we did go to one movie on a Monday night, when there were few people in the theater. I had a cruise scheduled that fell right at the end of chemo and rescheduled it to two months later. I didn't do Black Friday at Walmart type of crazy crowded shopping, but I went to the grocery store or target or whatever. (Whe you're wearing the chemo headscarf look, it's surprising how many people will ask you to step in front of them in line at the grocery store; I always thanked them and took them up on their offers, they helping both myself and them as it is good for everyone to do things for others.

      I went to an exercise class 3 mornings a week (except right after my chemo sessions) but I decided to skip a seasonal job that has 60 or 70 people sitting in a poorly ventilated room all day. I'm back at that job right now and it's fine, but I would have been too paranoid about every sneeze to concentrate on my work at the time.

      about 7 years ago
    • sueoop's Avatar
      sueoop

      Chinita, I did have some side effects.........Like you, I couldn't sleep for the 2 nights following chemo so I found other things to do. I read a lot of books and worked on knitting my new granddaughter's welcome home blanket. I had a mantra, I'm not tired, the cancers tired. The cancers tired because its dying, not me. So much of cancer treatment goes on in your head. I did what I had to do to stay in charge of my life, the best I could. You'll do the same in your own ways. Happy thoughts coming your way!!

      about 7 years ago
    • dmholt1957's Avatar
      dmholt1957

      You have to be careful and mindful about your surroundings but I worked all the way thru my chemo treatments. Of course I was out the 1st couple of days afterward but then I was at work every day. I had to be careful not to get close to anybody I thought might be or getting sick. You do not have to be home bound the whole time you are taking treatments. Sometimes if my immune system was way down and I wanted to go out, I would wear a mask and sometimes even gloves. I would get a second opinion if you would like to ease your mind. Good luck and God bless.

      about 7 years ago
    • Anamaria's Avatar
      Anamaria

      Hi Chinita, I too was told to stay away from large group and if I had to go out and about to wear a mask or scarf around my face. My dr took me off Neulasta because I had a very bad reaction to it. At present I take A/C every third week. I am not working but tried to go to the gym a couple of days last wee. I did the bike for 20 minutes and was so tired I came home and sleep for four hours. Ask your dr before doing anything they are the experts and ask questions so you would know the reasons behind their thinking. Good luck my prayers are with you.

      over 6 years ago
    • BillG's Avatar
      BillG

      Noted are all the answers with "Ask your doctor." Trust me, your doctor knows no more than you do. Stay away from large crowds, really wash your hands, avoid hidden social contacts such as church, etc where people hug and kiss and shake hands. The hidden peer pressure to conform is overwhelming. Really wash your hands.

      over 5 years ago

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