• Any tips for 1st day of chemotherapy?

    Asked by Deann2002 on Saturday, February 3, 2018

    Any tips for 1st day of chemotherapy?

    I begin dose dense AC+T chemotherapy regimen on Thursday the 8th. I’m really anxious and somewhat scared because I don’t know how I’ll respond. I’ve been reading people’s tips online about what to bring, how to manage side effects, etc. I’ve noticed that everyone is different and some fare better than others as far as side effects. Has anyone undergone or is currently going through a dose dense chemotherapy round? Any words of advice or encouragement?

    31 Answers from the Community

    31 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      I'm sure others will have some more tips for you. I will give you mine. At the first visit you will be anxious and not knowing what to expect. I remember that feeling of watching the mix flow down the tube and hit my arm. You might feel it, it might be cold, but sometimes they warm it. Don't freak out, everything that you feel has been felt by others before. If anything scares you, ask the nurses. They have seen every reaction that can be imagined and will know what to do.

      Here are a couple articles we posted about going to chemo, they have some good tips in them too

      How WhatNexters Prepared for Chemotherapy - click links for articles http://bit.ly/2B2rFqL

      Be Prepared: 22 Things to brings to chemo - http://bit.ly/1E8wZmW

      We wish you easy treatments and quick recoveries, keep asking questions and posting updates, the community will help you all the way.

      over 3 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      I'm sure others will have some more tips for you. I will give you mine. At the first visit you will be anxious and not knowing what to expect. I remember that feeling of watching the mix flow down the tube and hit my arm. You might feel it, it might be cold, but sometimes they warm it. Don't freak out, everything that you feel has been felt by others before. If anything scares you, ask the nurses. They have seen every reaction that can be imagined and will know what to do.

      Here are a couple articles we posted about going to chemo, they have some good tips in them too

      How WhatNexters Prepared for Chemotherapy - click links for articles http://bit.ly/2B2rFqL

      Be Prepared: 22 Things to brings to chemo - http://bit.ly/1E8wZmW

      We wish you easy treatments and quick recoveries, keep asking questions and posting updates, the community will help you all the way.

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      Deann,

      I began my chemo with the same dense dose AC meds and I too was terrified. For me it was more fear of the unknown. I pictured myself vomiting for days and was scared for my kids to see me so ill. Today they give you so many pre-meds to prevent the side effects that most people do better than years ago. I was lucky to not be too nauseous but I sure was exhausted from it all. My first treatment took about 5 hours because the infusion nurses really took their time with me and explained everything. They know you’re scared, but will make you as comfortable as possible. Ask any questions you may have no matter how trivial or silly you think they are. My nurses treated me like family from day one.

      Greg attached the article of 22 Things to Bring to Chemo... excellent read! Definitely bring someone with you, wear comfy clothes and a shirt they can access your port easily. You may get very cold during the infusion but they continuously gave me warm blankets which was great. They’ll give you water and snacks but I brought a few bottles of water and crackers. I did keep a chemo bag packed at home with my iPad, water, and a note pad with questions I thought of between treatments.

      My chemo ended last April but was followed by 33 rounds of radiation which I finished on June 23, 2017. The best advice I can give you is starting today, drink a ton of water. I drank about 5-8 bottles (16oz) of water throughout the day to keep myself hydrated. They’ll tell you to drink a lot to flush the chemicals out of your body after each treatment but I found I felt better when I drank a lot before and after each treatment. Twice I did get dehydrated and had to go in for fluids. Even today I still drink at least 60 oz a day (mostly water) since my body got used to it.

      Know your fears are normal and expected. You’re not alone and you will get through it. I sometimes think how in the heck did I make it through treatment, but I did and you will too!! Check back here next week and let us know how you’re doing. Sending good thoughts and prayers to you!

      over 3 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Deann2002, my breast cancer treatment was 19 years ago, and since then, protocols have changed in many ways. Also, I had A/C but no T. However, I can still tell you how I fared:

      I found my four A/C treatments not so bad that I wasn't able to work my 25-hour week and even do my usual activities after work. And now they have anti-nausea drugs in addition to Zofran and Ativan (I wasn't given steroids). I never felt well and was sometimes queasy, but I never felt lousy, either. Okay, twice in the three and a half months, I got so sick to my stomach that I vomited.

      I was lucky. Some people find chemo harder; some easier. But it's doable, and the months do pass, and then it's DONE.

      Your sense of taste may be affected. I craved sweets. You'll see how you do with that.

      Be sure to let your oncologist and oncology nurse know how you're feeling.

      I joined a hospital-based support group of women getting adjuvant treatment for non-metastatic breast cancer. That group helped me immensely. It was run by two licensed and very experienced social workers. If you're a group person and are able to join one, I'd try it.

      We all here know how terrifying it is to be diagnosed with a cancer. I felt the gamut of emotions and never censored myself when I felt very scared, sad, angry. And I tried to treat myself with extra-kindness and rest when I needed to, if possible.

      WhatNext is a great site! I'm sure others here will be responding. Ejourneys is an especially good source of good information on breast cancers.

      Sending you hugs from Brooklyn -

      over 3 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      I wanted to add to what Luie said - once I start talking I can't shut up! - by saying that, not including the blood work done before every chemo, my A/C infusion took only about an hour, so yours may not take so long. And I was never encouraged to drink a lot of water. I wish I had been told that then.

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      Carol, I forgot about the routine blood work lol. Much of the 9 months from diagnosis to ending treatment is still a blur. Hi had 4 AC and then 12 Taxol treatments which took about 22 weeks. I had to wait 3 weeks after my port was removed to start 6 weeks of radiation. I literally focused on one treatment at a time and just getting through THAT one before I thought about the next one. Thinking about it all was too overwhelming.

      Do you still have any lasting side effects? I do. ☹️

      I did have changes in my eating and have not eaten certain foods since before treatment. Luckily I eat a lot healthier now because I’m so aware of how I feel each day. Life after treatment is just so different. Not better or worse....just different.

      over 3 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      No, no side effects I can discern, not even chemo brain. I didn't get Taxol, however, so none of the neuropathy that sometimes comes from that. And in my day we didn't have ports - at least at my hospital (MSKCC) and for breast cancers.

      Focusing on one treatment at a time is something I tried to do with my four A/Cs. Radiation came right after my last chemo. Radiation was easy. No burning and very little fatigue. The hardest thing was getting up super early to get to the hospital by 8:00 so I could get in and out fast, and even then I had to wait. I did get to meet other patients, with various cancers.

      Remember that for me it's 19 years ago (on May 5). I'll always be deeply affected by having had cancer. I'll always fear a recurrence or another kind of cancer. But rowing slowly away from that May 5, 1999, does help soften the fears - somewhat. I wish you easy but speedy rowing, Luie.

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      Thanks, Carol. Well 19 years away from cancer is remarkable but I can see how the fear of recurrence never leaves. I have neuropathy and severe chemo brain. In my job as a teacher it has been really hard going back to work. I was diagnosed in December with cognitive communication deficits from chemo so I should get some accommodations and protection at work. Still in the process of getting some changes as I do qualify as having a disability through ADA. The bureaucracy of school systems is ridiculous. Even with medical documentation people who never had cancer just don't get it!! So frustrating

      over 3 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar
      cllinda

      One thing to remember is that it is important to call the office if anything weird is happening, like a fever, nausea, and other things, even at night or weekends. They are there to help you get through it. They should give you guidelines on when to call, I.e. fever over 100.5.

      over 3 years ago
    • Neuf84's Avatar
      Neuf84

      I had my first chemo treatment on January 25. I was constipated afterwards. Miralax and a lot of water helped cure my constipation. I drank peppermint tea to help settle my stomach. My main side effect was fatigue which lasted 3 days. I was able to return to work on day 6. My chemo causes hair loss. I purchased a wig and eyebrow pencil prior to chemo. I researched the side effects of my chemo drugs and how to deal with them. I purchased Biotene mouthwash for dry mouth, Miralax for constipation, and Imodium for diaherra. Check with your doctor to see what he or she approves of prior to purchasing anything. I also bought fragrance free soap and lotion. I keep my skin and lips moisturized all day long. I have experienced some discomfort in my feet. I placed Dr. Schol's gel insoles in my shoes. You will be fine. Ask a lot of questions about how to take care of any side effects. I got my appetite back today. I have a lot of healthy snacks on hand. Eat well and exercise when you feel better. I am preparing my body for the next round of chemo on 2-15. Stay strong, you can do this.

      over 3 years ago
    • Deann2002's Avatar
      Deann2002

      Thank you everyone for all of your insight, encouragement and tips. It’s amazing how just hearing from others who have gone through this strengthens you! None of you had to share, but you did, and I am truly grateful. I’ll keep everyone posted on how things go.

      over 3 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      For me chemo was a real trial, especially the first infusion. My doctor didn't warn me of many side effects, and the information I got on the Internet prior to my first treatment was so overwhelming. Everyone I talked to said that every patient is different and we'd just have to wait and see what side effects I would get once infused. Hah! BIG MISTAKE! If only I had known what to expect or prepare for, I wouldn't have had to ask my long suffering pastor to keep going to Publix to get me remedy after remedy as each side effect came. If my oncologist knew then what we know now, we'd have given me the steroids and Neulasta, and things wouldn't have been as rough as that first infusion was. Thankfully, the aforementioned precautions were carried out for treatments 2-6, and I fared better ... still felt cruddy but it was something I could put up with. Not to frighten you, but I will tell you what happened to me and hope it illustrates the importance of having the products in the house you will need at the exact moment you need them. The day of and the day after my first infusion was uneventful, and I thought I would be one of those blessed people who don't get side effects like people in my church were telling happened to their rellies. On day 3, I woke up with horrible stomach cramps andconstipation like I had never known before. When I sweated or even urinated, there was a strong chemical odor. I was on my menstral cycle then too, and that smell got into that discharge as well. By day 4, my strength was practically drained out of me; day 5, my tongue felt like it was shriveling up and had a bad taste; and a week after the infusion, my white cell count was dangerously low! 3 days of Neupogen shots didn't help, and I developed larengitis and a fever of 100.7. The nurse had prescribed medication for what she found to be thrush and also said for me to give the shots a chance to work and see if the fever would go down. It went up to 100.9 the next day, and I went to the ER and was admitted for 3 days with neutropenia. I told my oncologist that if this was what chemo would do to me, I wanted alternative treatments. She said once I started chemo, I had no choice but to finish it. I told her I didn't want to go through this 5 more times, and that's when she noted in my chart I was "frail" and made sure I had precautions in place to help my body not get so ill. Now, remember I might be an exception to the rule because my body is very sensitive to drugs. I use home remedies whenever I can and only take Advil or something like that if absolutely necessary. Because my body wasn't used to drugs, let alone strong ones, it reacted very strongly. I truly do hope you are one of those who will come through with few side effects and excellent results! HUGS and God bless.

      over 3 years ago
    • beachbum5817's Avatar
      beachbum5817

      Deann, I had different chemo than you will be getting, but I certainly remember that first treatment. I did well with it, and I hope you will as well. You have been given a lot of good information. You have come to an excellent site for it. You will always find someone who has experienced the same thing that you are facing. Don't hesitate to ask questions or even just to rant if that is what you need. Good luck on Thursday. Keep us posted on how you make out. Take care.

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      Child of God,

      Your experience was so awful! I'm so sorry you had to suffer so much. I was warned of side effects and did have some. Fatigue was the worst for me. I was very active and busy but the drugs wiped me out horribly. I was told by the surgeon, oncologist, and infusion staff to stay off the internet because there's so much misinformation out there. Reliable sites were the American Cancer Society and Breast Cancer.org. Everyone is different and their treatment is different. I never took drugs or had to experience severe side effects of prescription meds so my body reacted intensely too.

      To Deann, write down any questions you have so you'll remember to ask them. After your treatment, keep a journal of side effects, water intake, etc to discuss with your dr to see what is normal for you. They don't want you to suffer and if they're aware of problems or discomfort you're having, they'll give you something to ease it.

      over 3 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar
      lynn1950

      Hi Deann. You asked about chemo. It's been almost 10 years for me, but I remember it well. With the AC my response took on a familiar arc. Chemo and shopping high on Wednesday (fueled by the steroids), feeling OK Thursday and sliding a bit on Friday. Neulasta shot on Friday am to boost white blood cell count. Down for the count curled in bed Saturday and Sunday. On the mend and back at work on Monday. Relative normalcy on Tuesday.

      For nausea, I was given Emend on Wednesday and Thursday and also sent home with Zofran. What mostly helped keep the weekend bearable was taking drugs and listening to meditation tapes, especially the parts that guided breathing and body relaxation.

      I've heard that Claritin helps with the side effects of Neulasta.

      Don't forget to flush the toilet twice. I was always afraid I'd forget that! lol

      I had a port and I became quite fond of it. There's a lot of bloodwork, in addition to the chemo. Ports save veins. I was given lidocaine cream to smear on my skin over the port an hour before it needed to be accessed. Needles were painless. I carry my port scar as a badge of honor.

      I hope this in someway helps. My best to you. Lynn

      over 3 years ago
    • Jouska's Avatar
      Jouska

      Deann, I had no idea what to expect either, nor had I found this group. I was convinced it was like pouring acid in my veins. It wasn't. I really didn't feel go in - I did have a port and you should get one if you haven't - makes a HUGE difference. The chemo drugs smelled funny, some was a bit cold. On your first chemo they will take it slow, spacing out each chemo drug with fluids and watching you for any adverse reaction. They will give you steroids either to take in advance and after chemo or via IV, also Benadryl or other drugs to keep allergic reaction down. They will also give you anti-nausea drugs. My doctor and nurses made sure I didn't have the least bit of nausea. Drink lots and lots of water, Gatorade etc. They say 64 oz each day for several days following chemo - they mean it. That will help flush the chemicals out of your system and really does help you feel so much better. It would get where I couldn't stand water, so I drank Gatorade. They will have you watch for fever - that is important during chemo. I feel I got through pretty well. Yes I was tired from the chemo and food tasted very funny and I wasn't very hungry. But I survived, one treatment at a time and it was over before I knew it. Take a friend/family with you, enjoy the warm blankets they give you and think of it as your me time. Oncology nurses are the best, so listen to their advice, ask all the questions you can think of and breath. You will get through this.

      over 3 years ago
    • msesq's Avatar
      msesq

      If you don’t have one get a chemo port. It makes chemo much easier. Bring someone with you to keep you distracted and to drive you home. After the premeds are done drink a cold slushee ice ddrink while the real drugs are infused. It will help sVe your taste buds. The other suggestions are spot on. Good luck and cyber hugs!

      over 3 years ago
    • Myungclas' Avatar
      Myungclas

      Ask if the nurses will let you soak your gloved hands in ice. It cuts down on the ugliness chemo causes in nails.

      over 3 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Luie, I'm sorry you (and others here) had and still have very bad and lingering side effects. I hope researchers on chemo brain come up with something that helps, though that may never happen or may be years away (I know that oncologists, some, are finally acknowledging that chemo brain really exists. Hugs -

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar
      SueRae1

      Hugs, healing vibes and prayers.

      Take lots of food, liquid and snacks - It will be a long day. It takes at least 45 Min from the time they draw your blood until the results get in. Then the Dr needs to review and send in the prescription. You will then be assigned a a spot in the infusion area - depending on the protocol your infusion can take up 3-4 hours. The first infusion is the longest because the slow the drip rate to make sure you don't have a bad reaction. My oncologist alerted me to possible side effects, and the infusion nurse gave me a print out of every drug they gave me listing the name, dose and possible side effects.

      I have Triple Negative Breast cancer so I was on a different protocol. My oncologist gave me a prescription for anti-nausea meds just in case, but I found ginger candy and tea worked fine. I agree with msesq get a port - it makes chemo and blood draws so much easier and less painful, try to get in your chest, this way you will have both hands free through out your session. . As part of my pre-infusion cocktail I was given IV benadryl to help counter act an allergic reaction, my words got a bit sloppy for a few min as it hit the system. You will probably feel a bit hyper because you will get steroids as well. If one of the side effects of your chemo is hair loss ask if a cold cap, it's suppose to help with that. My center offers acupuncture and mediation during treatment, you might like that to help you relax and deal with any pain.

      You definitely want someone with you your first few times. After about 4 weeks I decided to just have my DH pick me up after treatment - we live a mile from the hospital so I would call them when they hooked up the last bag. That may not be an option for you, some like to have people around them others like to be alone and read or do puzzles and even try to nap.

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      With the Taxol, They gave me Benadryl and I slept like a baby through it each time. They had to wake me up when it was over... lol

      over 3 years ago
    • gpgirl70's Avatar
      gpgirl70

      I went through the same chemo regimen. I slept a lot while getting the infusion but my iPad was my go to because I could either read, play games or watch movies depending on my mood.

      My biggest advice: take stool softeners during A/C to keep from getting constipated, take CLARITIN to avoid neulasta side effects, drink lots of water. I did mean to shout Claritin because so many on here did not hear about it and got severe bone pain. I forgot to take it once and the pain was excruciating and it is hard to get on top of the pain once you get behind. When I took the Claritin as directed I had no pain at all. Some doctors don't automatically prescribe Neulasta but mine did. I had the on-body injector placed after chemo so I didn't have to go back to the office for a shot. Keep a journal so you can keep track of the medications you need to take and take them as directed even if you feel fine. For me it helped to keep up a walking regimen. You will get used to the routine and what days you'll feel better. I tried to plan little outings on days when I knew I'd feel better so I had something to look forward to. Reach out to friends and family if you need company, want someone to go to chemo with you, or just go to lunch. I found my friends wanted to help but didn't know how so I told them. Once they knew I wanted to go out and do things, they would reach out to me as well. It is so easy to get too isolated. Toward the end of AC I felt pretty wiped out and had less good days, but then throughout Taxol I started to feel better and better.

      over 3 years ago
    • Su-Su's Avatar
      Su-Su

      Drink a lot of water during chemo. They will have ice available and I brought my own bottled water. I would fill-up a 32 oz tumbler with ice and I would use 3 16oz bottles of water while taking the chemo. My oncologist told me to drink a lot of water to flush out the chemo. This helped me alot They will also give you snacks and my dr. had them deliver a meal from the hospital cafeteria.

      over 3 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Deann, I want to add that my white blood cell count never got low enough for me to need a Neulasta shot (I know - I may sound like the A/C poster girl!). My hospital didn't automatically give everyone Neulasta, so you may not ever need it. If you do, these suggestions will help.

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      I had the Neulasta shot after each of the 4 AC treatments. The body aches were the worst! I kept my heating pad handy and used it all the time on my back. When Advil didn't help, they gave me an Rx for pain. That helped a great deal. Everyone reacts differently though. Maybe you won't need it!!

      over 3 years ago
    • fluteplayer's Avatar
      fluteplayer

      My first chemo in1999 was a nightmare but if it worked it was worth it. Stage 1and I also had 30 radations.But Dr ignored my symptoms and in 2011 came back all through me. Now stage 4 ,chemo again . Another nightmare but it worked for a few years . Now on Ibrance and painful shots in rear every month. Easier than standard chemo but cancer is rearing up again and this is my last chance.

      over 3 years ago
    • Tomatogirl's Avatar
      Tomatogirl

      Hang in there! I went in for around 4 hours for each chemo treatment. The day after each treatment, I would get a Neulasta shot to increase the white blood cell counts. It made my bones ache, but taking Claritin (the easy tabs) helped the bone pain. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Here's what I brought to my Chemo treatments with me: comfy pillow (they gave me warmed blankets), my headphones, my phone, my iPad with games, chargers. I slept during the treatments as they also gave me Benadryl. Drink lots of water, hot tea, any fluids to help flush everything out.

      A few days after treatment is when the nausea and crappy feelings kicked in. It felt like being in bed with the flu, but a bit worse. I just slept as much as I could. I also took CBD for the nausea, which helped immensely.

      Sending you lots of healing light and wishes that your chemo is not too tough on you.

      over 3 years ago
    • CottonGinny's Avatar
      CottonGinny

      My best advice is to keep a diary after chemo, to keep track of the symptoms as they appear. Next treatment, do the same. Then you can have validated conversations with your oncologist, and you can anticipate what the symptoms will be for your subsequent treatments. For example, on the 4th day after chemo, for 4 treatment cycles, I got thrush, and had to go to the doctor and get a prescription. I anticipated it for the last two, asked for a script, and had the drug on hand from the moment symptoms started. The infection was gone in a couple of days, rather than 10 days. I also was able to anticipate when dizziness would start, and had a walker at hand for those days, and made sure that there was someone around incase I fell. Good luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • suz55's Avatar
      suz55

      Like CottonGinny, I kept a journal of when I took medications, how I felt, side effects, and even what I had to eat. I found that the side effects were pretty consistent for each treatment. I took the pre-meds exactly as they told me, and was lucky to fare quite well with little nausea. As others mentioned, keep the communication going with your team. If you have any concerns, call them even if you just saw them the day before! I used a baking soda/salt mouth rinse each time I had anything to eat or drink, other than water, and was lucky not to have any mouth sores. Those chemo nurses are such wonderful souls...ask them anything! When I had no appetite, I made ice cream smoothies made with weight watchers packets. Of course, all natural would be better, better this was quick and easy. The benadryl they gave me before each infusion made me really sleepy, like I had been to happy hour! I always took my book or tablet, but just dozed off. Best of luck to you. I know your team will take good care of you!

      over 3 years ago
    • Luie's Avatar
      Luie

      The baking soda and salt rinse was great!! I forgot about that. I put 1/2 tsp of each in a fresh 16 oz bottle of water and kept it in the kitchen with mini paper cups. I rinsed with it after eating and when I had no appetite, I still used it 5-6 times a day and had no mouth sores either.

      over 3 years ago
    • Tinaspirits' Avatar
      Tinaspirits

      Hi there - I remember clearly feeling like I had another medical issue - a lump in my throat, which turned out to be anxiety. I was a bundle of nerves, primarily because of all the reports of what was about to happen. That day went well, or as the doctors had expected and even the side effects, some they told me about and others not, I was able to push through why? Because I made up my mind that I would. period.

      I had Stage 1 IDC Her2+ Breast Cancer and had a lumpectomy in April 2017 followed by 16 rounds of chemo and 25 rounds of radiation. I lost all my hair, several fingernails and a few toenails but in the end...my hair is growing back and so are my nails. I do have neuropathy in my fingers and toes but am hopeful that the feeling will return. I am gradually modifying my diet and will be eliminating dairy and chees (as soon as I finish this Quesidilla).

      All in all I am a warrior and I fought - HARD to be here...I hope and encourage the same for you.

      over 3 years ago

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