• Chemo starts in 2 days. Trying not to FREAK OUT! Any tips to help me out?? Please!

    Asked by Julie99 on Sunday, February 10, 2013

    Chemo starts in 2 days. Trying not to FREAK OUT! Any tips to help me out?? Please!

    I had a bilateral mastectomy with expanders on Jan 10th & I'm recovering well. AC-T chemo starts Tuesday. 8 treatments, every 14 days. I am trying not to freak out about it but I'm scared. I'm not sure what to expect & I don't know how sick I'll feel. I know AC-T can be really tough. My oncologist said I'd start to feel like myself when I'm due for my next treatment, but typically people feel like XXX for 3-8 days. What do I need to know? Any tips?

    27 Answers from the Community

    27 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      The first one is always the hardest because there is no way to know what side effect you will get, when you will get them, how long they will last, and how severe they will be. But after the first time, you can expect the rest to be almost exactly the same. The only recommendation I have is that you have a 24/7 contact number to reach a chemo nurse on call so as you experience symptoms, she can provide suggestions or scripts to alleviate them.

      over 4 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      As Nancy said, the first is the hardest because you don't know exactly how you will react and what side effects you will experience. It is also the longest infusion, because they slow the drip to make sure that you can tolerate the treatment. The worse side effects I experienced were from what the called the the pre-meds, which you get to prevent known side effects of chemo, such as nausea allergic reactions, etc. I found the steroids, the most problematic. The infusion nurses will give you info about the meds you are be giving and advice on how to handle side effects.

      My reactions to chemo start about 24 hours after treatment and can last anywhere from 36-48 hours, and then I slowly feel better. Yep right before treatment you feel the best.

      This may be a long day, so bring healthy snacks and drinks - and maybe even lunch. I also bring, crocheting, and reading material - my kindle is the best, because before I got it, I shelped many books - now there all in one place. I also like to listen to music, so I bring my iPod nano. Someone should defiantly pick you up. DD & DH stayed with me during the whole of my first treatment. Now DH picks me up, he may come with me and stay for a while and then leave until I done or we have lunch, sometimes he just comes for the last hour or so. It works best for us, if he's not there the whole time. But not everyone feel that way. You will figure out what support you need on infusion day as your treatment progresses.

      over 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Drink lots of fluids....water if you can is best....tajke all the pre-meds they Rx for you....if you are feeling nauseaus, take the anti-nausea meds on a regimated schedule. Eat small meals....eat things that appeal to you.....listen to your body and rest when you feel the neeed to....MY chemo was every 3 weeks and by about day 5, I was begining to feel "decent" again...I had chemo on Thursday and was out for the count that day!! I went for IV hydration, F,Sat and Sun.....most MOndays I went to work, though I wasn't at full throttle!!!! Everyone reacts differently to their chemo regimine. Allow people to help you when they ask....meals, run errands, pick things up at the grocery store, drive carpool for you, play dates for your kids, clean the house....Please kind to yourself....When you feel good, you'll do your normal things....Also try to "exercise" even if that is just taking a couple 5 minute walks/day,......You will get through this.....chemo is doable!!!

      over 4 years ago
    • SpunkyS's Avatar

      Nancyjac and SueRae have good solid suggestions. I will second their advice and add to it.

      "Freaking out" is ok. Allow yourself to be a bit scared at the prospect of so much unkown. And then do something that pampers you - watch a good movie, go for a walk, putter in the kitchen, try to learn a new craft like knitting or crocheting, to calm yourself and keep your mind focused on something besides the chemo.
      At Halloween I dressed as the first bag of chemo because it was the scariest thing I could think of. Will keep you in prayer. Good luck! oh, and bring along some things that comfort you - soft blanket, a lucky charm, a good hand to hold yours.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      I had AC 4 cycles, then T with Herceptin dose dense (every two weeks). Know that you will be watched extra carefully (to the point it becomes annoying) for any issues. Should you experience issues (not common), you will be promptly and well looked after.
      Take all the meds the day before and the morning before as instructed, this will help you avoid issues.

      The night right after chemo you'll feel fine. The tiredness and other issues really start late day 2/ day 3 post (one of the ladies I spoke to before my chemo told me shed go dancing after chemo, very life affirming).

      The Adriamycin is a push (not given from a drip), and it will make you pee red. The thing to do is to drink as much water as possible so your kidneys are not damaged from processing more concentrated byproducts of that chemo (good advice throughout chemo, but especially for this). Hydrate before chemo, you can use the bathroom during your infusion. One pee will be red, no way around this, try to make the others as clear as possible, and whatever you do, don't hold if you need to use the bathroom.

      Another thing to watch for with the Adriamycin is for any blistering around the push site (it can cause for your flesh to be "eaten" if some of the chemo doesn't go in the vein. The nurses are very experienced in giving this, so don't worry, but it's good to know so you can rush to treatment if it happens).

      Do take the antiemetics you're given, they will make your life bearable. My issue during the first chemo was that after the Emend was gone (newish antiemetic given for 3 days) I got nausea (can't imagine what it would be full blast). So do have an emergency nurse contact ready for something like that. My dad was able to pick up some other antiemetics after a call, and I was better (lost 5 lbs from the "experience", not fun. I was thrilled by the lbs lost though lol).

      over 4 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar

      Practice some form of stress management like music, meditation, exercise, or whatever makes you feel better. Take this one day at a time.

      over 4 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I am in agreement that everyone is different. With chemo, at first, I had a nagging cough -- some throat pain (in the throat wall - not a sore throat) bowel problems, etc -- then, as i continued - fatigue, etc -- the 2nd and 3rd days would be couch days. I had no nausea which I appreciated. I posted the details of my journey on my wall which describes the side effects that I experienced. I wish you the best.

      over 4 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      Ah...you have a plan now. This is the point that I could finally relax. There were so many things to do before chemo started--make arrangements at work, clean my house thoroughly, date night with my husband, shave my head, buy some cute wool hats (wigs were not my thing). AC +T is tough. I also did a dose dense regime.

      over 4 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      The answers posted here are all helpful. I'll just add that chemo is a tough time and the first one is the scary one. Please tell yourself it's what's required to fight and beat down your cancer, your best weapon. Keep telling yourself that, even on your down days. My mother took her chemo in a private room. Mine was in a room with twelve other patients. For me, that was the best as I could look around and see others going through what I was, watch to see how they were coping, talk to the wonderful nurses and also family members of the other patients and the patients themselves. I was there for five or six hours each infusiion, and I met some inspirational people that I will never forget and heard some stories that uplifted me. So, while chemo is hard, remember it can be a blessing in more than just the obvious way of making you whole again.

      over 4 years ago
    • princess123's Avatar

      I received premeds also. Benadryl, steriods, and 2 nausea meds. I did not get sick one time from chemo. It also depends on what kind of chemo you get. With toxal I didn't have bad after affects. With taxatier I felt yucky afterwards. I didn't have the energy to do anything.
      Good luck. Hope it all works out for you.

      over 4 years ago
    • Baldredhead's Avatar

      The first one is indeed the scariest - I've had three now, so here goes with advice and things I would have done differently- First of all, please don't rely only on information you have gleaned from blogs - I have come to realizew that everyone is different in their reaction, and you are so young! You can do this!!!!!! Actually I was just thinking about my own AC-T experiences, and realized that chemo day has become nap day for me, but then I typically go to work the next day. Thursday for me and Friday are crash days, then I "ramp up" over the weekend and get to feeling almost like me on Monday.....the next two weeks (I have treatments 3 weeks apart) it's really difficult to slow down, although that's the best thing to do - but I am pretty much at work every day, leaving early for booster shot, level checks, etc.....Dress comfortably for treatment - also, you might want to bring a bag packed with a warm throw, reading materials, charged phone, etc....... Again, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!! Special prayers for Julie.

      over 4 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      Just keep focusing on the fact that so many of us get through this..I was very scared as well. Just listen to what the nurses and Dr tell you to do. You may feel more out of it from the steroids and anti nausea meds for the first 4 days or so. I took the anti nausea meds two days after, whether I needed it or not because the nurses told me to so.. well I can say I never got nauseous at all. All I remember is a foggy feeling then I 'd come out of it a bit and even went to my Zumba class during a/c treatments. We are all different so you will have things to tell your nurses so they can adjust things for your comfort. Keep a little diary so you know what to tell them and what to expect for the next treatment. You will get through this!

      over 4 years ago
    • Topazcat's Avatar

      The best thing is that you are now going to be fighting this cancer! I had 16 chemo sessions each a week apart. I was not able to take the steroids with the other pre-meds because I was allergic to them. The other meds they used were great. Try to think of the chemo as a friend that is helping you fight - it is not the enemy! I used to call chemo day my spa day because people pampered me, I had a nice recliner, warm blankets, snacks, and time to read books or nap. I felt naseous but never got sick. I also got pretty tired the day of the chemo, but was able to continue working. Follow the needs of your body and rest when you want to. One of my sons drove me to chemo and we had lunch together there as the chemo was dripping. The nurses were fantastic! Then my husband would pick me up when I was ready. I lost 30 pounds which I felt was great. I was tired, lost my hair, and felt naseous but it was not the nightmare I thought it would be. Relax and accept it if you can. Good luck to you! You will get through this too!

      over 4 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      You have the picture by now - different for everyone, and usually the first is the scariest.

      I could add to the hints (snacks, water) but instead will offer up my funny story. A day or so prior to my first infusion I got a small cooking burn on my hand - the same side I had the surgery on. A day or so after I started the chemo, I woke up with really odd sensations in that hand. I had to calm myself to keep from calling my oncologist at 3AM on a weekend night. I was positive that my little injury had caused necrotizing fasciitis ( the dreaded Flesh Eating Virus.) and I would die from that and not the cancer.

      By daylight I was considerably calmer. And *No* - I did not have a flesh eating virus. What I felt was the taxotere (in my case) effecting nerves or nerve endings in my hand. Once I knew what was happening, I found I could deal with it all much better.

      Best advice I can give: keep in close contact and develop a good relationship with your oncologist and the infusion nurses, who may be specialist Oncology RNs. They can be very understanding and helpful.
      And note, the new improved "cocktails" today usually control the nausea/sick side effects beautifully.

      over 4 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      Julie - find out the snow / freezing roads policy at the location you are having your chemo.

      Weather freaks me out almost as much as the cancer thing. So finding out the policy of my infusion center was very important to me. And I live nowhere near Brockton! Hope you have someone to shovel for you and that you have power.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      It seems to me like freaking out is a pretty normal response! I have not had chemo but I just want to tell you good luck. I'm sending good thoughts your way. I will send extra good thoughts tomorrow. Hang in there.

      over 4 years ago
    • mcowett's Avatar

      Just breath, No one knows how you are going to react. Personally I made sure I had someone with me for the following 5 days. (I had scheduled slumber parties and told people they could cook in my kitchen rather than bring me food) some of the time I was up and very chatty some of the time I was down in the bed and some of the time I was inbetween. I personally felt ok for until the about a day after the nulesta shot. Then It hurt so bad and unlike anything I ever felt that I just laughed!!! alot!!! it was a new sensation. . . kind of weird huh? but thats what happened.

      over 4 years ago
    • jgoat01's Avatar

      It's hard not to freak out but for me, I had 4 Ac and never once got sick!! The only thing I didn't like about that chemo was it made me feel unlike myself for about a week after, that's all!! I am very blessed. However, they told me the taxotere would be the easier of the both and I had more side effect from it than the bad stuff. Good luck and God bless!!

      over 4 years ago
    • grammy's Avatar

      You can do this and you'll be fine. You're young. I was 62 when I went through chemo. I had chemo on Thurs. and took it easy through the weekend, then went to my job teaching teenagers on Mondays. The other people answering you had good ideas as to what to take with you, etc. The oncology nurses are angels and will watch you carefully. Take the anti-nausia meds for three days afterwards. I did and never had trouble with nausia at all. You'll feel fine the day of chemo. I usually went out to eat when finished. I found that walking every day and doing yoga every week really helped me out with energy and with calming myself. Be kind to yourself and let others be kind to you also. You will be fighting the cancer and being cured more with each treatment. Good luck, and will be thinking of you.

      over 4 years ago
    • crisco's Avatar

      keep positive and have faith, ti does help God bless

      over 4 years ago
    • kathykkl's Avatar

      Consider asking your doctor to prescribe something for anxiety or depression. I did and it was an enormous help...and I didn't feel at all embarressed to ask. The whole idea of having cancer and the treatments is a really emotional ride and can be a pretty unpleasant experience. I also use tai chi to relax. Next week will be my 2nd chemo and I'm not nearly as nervous as the first time because now I know what to expect, and it wasn't as bad as I expected the first time.

      over 4 years ago
    • LeslieR's Avatar

      It's only natural to FREAK OUT before the first treatment as this is a new experience that is being THRUST upon you! I had my first treatment a 1 1/2 years ago, though it seems like only yesterday. I paniced right before the chemicals went it. I cried. It's normal! I listened as the chemo nurse explained everything to me, it was ALLOT to take in and I am so glad my sister was there with me every step of the way. God bless her. I hope that you have family/friends, some type of support. The first 4 treatments were a piece of cake, it was the last 4 treatments that I started to feel bad. I was a change in chemicals. All in all, I faired pretty well as I hope you will too. Just do what they tell you. Plenty of rest, eat what you can, plenty of fluids. It's going to be ok!!!! I promise. : )

      over 4 years ago
    • Julie99's Avatar

      Thank you to everyone for the support. The chemo day wasn't too bad. And 2 days out, I haven't gotten sick at all just SO exhausted. Naps all the time and no energy at all. Plus it is hard to even think about food. Toast, protein drinks, sports drinks and water and that's about it so far. One day at a time, right? Still just finding my way.

      over 4 years ago
    • MarnieC's Avatar

      Julie, I found it really helpful to meditate prior to doing chemotherapy (and if you aren't sure how to go about that, I have a free download on my site that will help you: http://marnieclark.com/guided-meditation/ You can download the link which is under the red print. I used this very same meditation all during my treatments for BC and found it so calming and effective. I hope you like it.

      over 4 years ago
    • reginak's Avatar

      I never had to have chemo (only radiation), so I can't speak specifically to your question. Grill your oncologist about what to expect and then grill the nurses in the chemo lab about typical reactions. Trust me, the nurses in there no plenty and are super nice. I had to go to the chemo lab twice a week for blood draws and saw first hand how well they treated everyone.
      Good luck and be well.

      over 4 years ago
    • LisaLathrop's Avatar

      I was intially freaked out about chemo, too. Especially after reading the book by Lance Armstrong "It's not about the Bike." But try not to worry....there are many new drugs out there to combat nausea and vomitting, and it certainly doesn't hurt. Just like an IV. We made as much light of it as we could....calling my chemo pole "my buddy" and even "my alien buddy" when it would glow at night with all the lights on the front. I had many different colored chemos, too....I'm an artist so that was humorous as well. Especially the blue chemo which had me peeing green! LOL All chemos are not the same, and there are many different kinds tailored to your situation and treatment plan. Trust your oncologist and nurses....they will give you the best advice and help along the way. By all means, listen to your body. If you are starting to feel sick or nauseaus, let them know ASAP before it goes to far and you DO get sick. Blessings to you, stay strong and THINK POSITIVE!!

      over 4 years ago
    • maralyn's Avatar

      wow, this has been wonderful to read everyones comments!!! i will start chemo in about 4 weeks or so, and they of course have told me the side effects, but everyone is different and i hope and pray that i can do this "gracefully", and not "freak out" either!!! i am grateful to have family and friends willing to take me when/if i need a ride,,, i will do the "fanny pack" for 2 days afterwards, and i will need to go back and have them remove that, so a lot of running,,, its about 35 miles one way, but if this can make a difference and give me more time, I WANT IT+++

      over 4 years ago

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