• Family visiting during chemo

    Asked by Kanoa07 on Friday, January 17, 2014

    Family visiting during chemo

    My partner's family is coming to visit this weekend for 2 nights. I had chemo on Monday and I'm tired and having not so fun side effects ( constipation being the major one). I wasn't really asked on whether or not this was ok right now. Now, another family member would like to come down also. I've had to have my chemo reduced to 50% the last 3 times due to low white cell counts, etc. I'm torn because she doesn't get to see her family often, but I'm also taking my health into consideration. I've already turned down an activity on Sat. What are your feelings on this?

    Thank you

    25 Answers from the Community

    25 answers
    • jewelhaque's Avatar

      Hello Kanoa! I am sorry to hear for your suffering. I am not a doctor but I can provide some suggestions from my experience being caregiver as follows: 1) drink plenty of waters throughout the day, 2) drink prune juice twice, one glass in the morning after breakfast and one glass before going to bed, 3) please discuss with your Oncologist regarding Neulasta, it boosts up your immune system by increasing White Blood Cell.

      Regarding meeting with family and friends, as you mentioned your health is most important than anything else. Explain to your family members and friends that it is recommended that you should avoid gathering as much as possible during Chemo treatment. I am pretty sure they will understand this since they love you and care for you.

      Wish and pray for you for your quick recovery!

      over 7 years ago
    • Neecer's Avatar

      Sorry you are having a tough time with the chemo, I had major fatigue but few of the other problems. I did stay in the bedroom a lot watching movies, in-between falling asleep and trying to be normal. You may need to be 'anti-social' for your health and they need to understand that. If possible they need to stay somewhere else, at a hotel would be good, most of the visiting could take place there. If any of them have or have been exposed to any illness they need to stay away and your partner needs to back you on this. She should be extra careful about contact germs, I stayed away from children, they seem to touch everything and you don't need to worry about infections. Hopefully things will go smooth as she may need some family support herself. You are welcome to vent here if you need to.

      over 7 years ago
    • JeanB's Avatar

      Your health has to come first, and with already low white counts you do not need to be exposed to the germs. Your family will just have to understand. Don't be torn, this is your health we are talking about. At the end of the day, they are still your family and they love you. If they don't, they are still family just not very good friends. We all have some of those in our families.

      Good luck to you on your journey. Please keep us posted we care.

      over 7 years ago
    • ShirleyJZ's Avatar

      as others have said, health and your safety first. friends and relatives have to understand this. having a low white count subjects you to infections, which could be dangerous. if your cancer allows white cell growth shots, there are several out there, like neulasta, Neupogen, and leukine, but these shots only boost your white count for a few days. I have had them three days in a row whenever I know I will be around several people or going on a flight. discuss with your onc and see what he recommends and if you still have visitors, protect yourself by handwashing often for all, no one with colds or flu, or if so and then must visit, wear a face mask to protect yourself....just my thoughts on the subject. note: I had relatives fly in for a week once and the wife had a bad cold when she entered my house, I immediately said you cannot stay here and got them a hotel, much to their displeasure.

      over 7 years ago
    • KLC's Avatar

      I was just saying yesterday that one of the best pieces of advice received when first diagnosed was to make sure you ask for what you need during this time. Asking for what you need also includes stating what you don't want/can't handle during this time as well. It goes without saying that during your battle you have the right to put you first !

      over 7 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar

      There is a lot to consider about this situation, because obviously you need to heal and rest so it is a bad time to have company but also you can't be exposed to any illnesses and if they are flying then they will bringing all those awful germs along with them from the plane and all the recycled air during an especially bad flu season! :-( ugh! Will they be actually staying with you? If so, maybe talk to your partner about this because it would be best if they all stayed at a hotel nearby instead. You will have some energy to visit but having a whole bunch of people in the house sounds absolutely exhausting and will probably keep you from getting your much needed rest! And chemo patients seriously need their rest! It really can be a matter of life and death, a restful and stress free environment is helpful for recovery and your health needs to come first right now while you are in treatment. I couldn't do it myself and you have my sympathy. But have a little talk with your partner about this, hopefully she will understand and make sure that you aren't worn out by visitors. Love and blessings! XOXOXO

      over 7 years ago
    • Kanoa07's Avatar

      Thank you everyone for your advice and help. Yes, they will be staying both nights. I just would have preferred to have the chance to discuss before everyone had decided to go ahead and book flights and decide to stay here. Still going to discuss with my partner and at least let her know my feelings. Should be an interesting weekend! Thanks again.

      over 7 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      good luck!!!! i hope everything goes well….

      i do have a couple of suggestions.

      one - hand washing hand washing hand washing. any visitors to your home should be HAPPY to wash hands or use hand sanitizer in order to help keep you as healthy as possible. we practiced strict hand hygiene while i did chemo, and folks were super understanding about it. we had hand foam, and everyone used it as soon as they walked in the door. i like the foam because it doesn't dry skin out so badly - like frequent hand washing can… anyway, that's the first thing.

      two - is it possible to ask them to go out to eat and then bring you a take out dish? that way, you'd have some time to yourself for resting… and time with them… maybe that would be a nice balance? how's your home arranged… is it possible for you to have a place to go when you need to chill out?

      three - constipation - SUCKS!!!!! i used colace… the drug name is docusate sodium, and it comes as an oval red pill…. it helped. it's a horrible feeling, constipation… anyway, ask your health care team if you can take it. mine actually suggested it. then, when i switched to the second phase of my chemo, i had the opposite problem…. ugh….

      i hope your weekend goes alright. good luck!!!!

      over 7 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      The best advice is to consider yourself first!! So often, we endure something just to be the good guy. You cannot do this as a cancer patient receiving chemo. You have to put yourself and your needs first which may not be your usual character. During chemo, I was told to avoid crowds, etc. The places that people will go even when they are sick are Grocery Stores, Pharmacies and Church -- so I stayed away from these places. If I did go to the Grocery Store, it would be at 6 AM when it was empty and I would wipe off the handle of the cart, etc. If we went out to eat, we would go at 4 PM before the crowds and sit in the back corner booth. At home, there was limited company and lots of hand washing. It paid off as I did not get sick during chemo even though most of my family got the flu. With this in mind and knowing how you feel from the chemo, I have to say that family visits are not the best thing for you right now. If they are coming to help and will respect your need for privacy and rest -- then, put them to work. However, if it is a social visit, do not use what little energy you have to be a martyr and attempt to provide hospitality. If I were you, I would extend a warm greeting (from a distance) upon their arrival -- then I would offer my apology that I am not capable of entertaining them for this visit -- then I would retreat to my bedroom for rest and privacy. They may not understand what you are enduring. I have always said that no one understands the journey of a cancer patient unless they go through it themselves. Once they realize, they may choose to stay at a hotel for the visit in consideration of your health -- or at least be less imposing. I wish you the best.

      over 7 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      Unless someone has gone through it him/herself, one really doesn't fully understand what this sickness entails. Sorry you are stuck in this position. Hopefully, the entertaining will be handled by your partner. You have every right to retire to your bedroom to rest whenever needed for as long as needed. While I was fighting my cancer, my husband stepped up and did things I never thought he was capable of doing! That was a positive side effect--seeing him vacuum and do dishes, grocery shop, and handle his family :-). I'm hoping you two will pull this off together and you'll get through it just fine. Keep communicating what you need and what you hope for. Good luck.

      over 7 years ago
    • LMDinNC's Avatar

      If these people are coming specifically to visit you, I think you can say that your doctor doesn't want you to be exposed to people while your immune system is low because this could delay your chemo. If your partner's family is coming mainly to see your partner, just ask your partner to keep them occupied away from the house as much as possible. Wear a mask when they're around you and just say your doctor told you to do this. In other words, my theme here is blame it on the doctors! This will get through to people sometimes more than just stating your preferences.

      Regarding constipation, that was one of the worst side effects I experienced after the first two rounds of chemo. After the third, I'm taking colase in the morning and eating 4 prunes for breakfast, and taking miralex at night. This is working for me. Best wishes to you in protecting yourself during your remaining chemo treatment!

      over 7 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar

      Personally, I think it all depends on how you are feeling. I know your rellies haven't seen you for ages, but if you are sick, you won't really feel like enjoying them. I surely do wish they had asked before just making the decision to fly in. How many germs will they bring with them when they get off the plane? They certainly might have understood if you said you needed to visit when your immune system was up again. Your immune system is compromised because of the chemo, and it might be so for a month after treatment has stopped. Even if you take a shot to boost your immune system, you still have to be careful. Wear a mask whenever you can, use rubber gloves when handling food, wash hands when making contact with others, and get loads of rest - even if you look like a hide-away hermit. You have your health to protect right now. If only you could have had your and your partner's family over another time. Have you thought of talking to them on the phone to ask if they can come during a time when you are feeling better? Maybe you can have them all over after chemo is done to have a "NO MORE CHEMO!" party. HTH God bless you! xoxoxo

      over 7 years ago
    • sme's Avatar

      Another cancer survivor told me to be very "selfish" during treatments and to surround myself only with the people who would truly be able to help out or be comforting . They advised me to chose very wisely. I had an incredible outpouring of offers to help. As difficult as it is to possible step on the toes of people you love,, I knew exactly who I needed and who I did not need. First person (sister) I told "no" to, caused me much angst but it got easier as I went along and people understood, for the most part. I found that most of the time right after chemo, I just needed to be left alone to rest and to not endanger my health by being out and about around possible germs. I would talk w your partner so that future visits can be put on hold. Maybe while they are there, hole up in your bedroom, resting and if possible wear one of those paper masks that cover your mouth and nose, to reduce any problems w infection. I bet wearing a mask will help them, and your patterned realize the seriousness of treatments and neutropenia. Hey, you can always let your Doc be the fall guy and tell everyone one "my doctor said...." Best of luck with remainder of your treatments

      over 7 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar

      Your partner is 100% inconsiderate, as are the family members. Get a backbone. Ask your partner what her plans are to take care of them.

      over 7 years ago
    • AnnBan's Avatar

      Agreed that your health has to be top priority, and taking care of your health when counts are low means resting and staying away from possible contamination. Perhaps the family is visiting because they think they are helping you (many people think this is a good thing, because they don't get that what you need is rest and alone time.) You could say, "It's great that you are giving my partner a well-deserved lift. Thank you for that. Please understand why I have to stay in the bedroom now and can't socialize. I hope that next time you come I'll be up to entertaining." Then make yourself scarce, feeling no obligation or guilt. Urge them to go out on the town and, as someone else suggested, bring you takeout. No one going through chemo should feel any obligation to entertain, even if (sometimes especially if) the guests are family.

      over 7 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      When I had chemo it was also during cold and flu season and my oncologist was adamant that I had no outside visitors. I really did not feel up to company anyway. If people come, you need to stay in your room and the guests will have to wear masks around you and be diligent about being healthy and hand washing. Sounds like you better have a talk with your partner. This is serious as a slight cold for someone could mean full blown pneumonia for you! You have enough to deal with. Your immune system is almost nonexistent right now. I hope they can all understand how serious this is and that you are excited to have them visit when you finish chemo. I missed all the holidays with my grandchildren but it was worth it to be healthy now. I wish you the very best of health. Time to take charge or at least hide out.

      over 7 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar

      Hi Kanoa,
      I am so sorry that you are going through this, I am sure that your partner is a great lady but honestly she is clueless as to what is really going on with you. It could be just denial on her part, refusing to accept that you are really sick...but who knows! I only know that you need to be taken care of right now and I hope that the weekend goes smoothly and that all the visitors are healthy and very quiet as well! One idea for the future- are you taking her along to all your appointments? If so she really is super clueless, but if not I would insist on her coming along with you from now on...because maybe that will help her understand your situation better. Good luck this weekend!

      over 7 years ago
    • virginiab's Avatar

      As others have suggested, feel free to "play the cancer card" and take frequent "Naps" alone in a quiet room. I put nap in quotes, because sleep is optional, while time by yourself may be necessary. Do insist on good handwashing etc by all parties; it's only reasonable.

      I, too , was plagued by constipation during chemo and the only thing that helped was Miralax every night. It worked where none of the other drugs had.

      Good luck getting through the weekend as easily as possible.

      over 7 years ago
    • marybeth's Avatar

      It may sound hard but if this had happened during the time I was on chemo, or even radiation, I would have said to my partner. While your family are here, they are all yours. I can't do the cooking or cleaning needed for guests, so that's all up to you Then I would head for the bedroom and read or sleep or do whatever I needed to do for myself. That said, my partner would not have done this kind of thing if, for no other reason than protecting me from any illnesses they might be carrying.

      over 7 years ago
    • parank's Avatar

      I'm sorry that you are having trouble with side effects (I too had terrible constipation....it was awful) and that you're having to deal with this too. A friend who is also a survivor gave me great, and simple, advice when I began my treatment. She told me that now is the time when not only are you allowed to be selfish, but that now is the time that you need to be.

      In addition to how you feel physically, it's also important to be careful with your health. My onc told me to stay away from crowded places (stores, parties, etc) in order to reduce my exposure to illnesses as much as possible. That low white count is serious, and you need to protect yourself. If your partner and/or her family don't get that, shame on them. It's also important not to wear yourself out any more than you have to. Just the stress over this situation is probably taking away some of your energy, and I don't think that's fair to you.

      Maybe the visitors could stay at a hotel, and they can find things to do together away from your home this time. That way they can see each other and you can rest. Hopefully you will all be able to work out a compromise like that. I certainly don't think you should even be thinking about entertaining houseguests at this point.

      Good luck, and best wishes to you, Kanoa07. Please let us know how you are doing.

      over 7 years ago
    • parank's Avatar

      Maybe consider having your partner read these comments? Maybe we can help a little bit more than just giving you a safe place to vent. Hugs.

      over 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      You need to take care of yourself....right now, you are number 1....if the family comes, don't feel obligated to visit or play host. Rest when you want to rest and do what you need to do for you and your health...I'm sure they will understand and if they don't, don't let that concern you....

      over 7 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar

      You come first right now. Just tell your partner that this is not the right time for visitors. Your resistance is low, you are not feeling 100 % and then you have to deal with other people? It's just not right.

      over 7 years ago
    • hippgolovchen's Avatar

      Any hotels in your area where they could stay? This is expecting way too much from you.

      over 7 years ago
    • nextville's Avatar

      Are they totally rude in general bc not asking is way up there on the scale. They can cancel their flights and take the re-booking hit.

      Protect yourself. My uncle dragged my aunt 200 miles to do some yardwork for his sister that he wouldn't do at home, when she felt bad and was in her 5th year of tx for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. My mother told her not to go. Two days after they returned she carded after work and that was it.

      The same gene pool wanted me to go to a big Christmas, which are usually miserable affairs, and full of kiddies. I needed Neulasta, blood was cross-typed, and was not allowed out--it was very cold where I lived. I put on a pretty dress and took myself to an expensive dinner where the chef made me rack of lamb. Was a nice time. Mom came home exhausted and complaining how miserable it was. I went upstairs.

      Put yourself first. If anyone doesn't like it, tough cookies. Send them to a hotel and keep the home visits short and infrequent.

      almost 7 years ago

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