• Getting Ready for Chemo

    Asked by PinkPeony on Saturday, August 23, 2014

    Getting Ready for Chemo

    I am trying to stock up on things needed during chemo, and am wondering how many of you used electric toothbrushes during treatment. I know we are supposed to use a soft bristled brush, but I generally beat my mouth up more with a regular toothbrush than the electric brush. Also I have read here that Claritin helps after Neulasta shots, but am wondering how many days to take the Claritin after a shot. Any suggestions or words of wisdom are welcome. My next door neighbors brought me some face masks. Love them! Thank you, thank you!

    34 Answers from the Community

    34 answers
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      I had my chemo for b.c. fifteen years ago, and things have changed. I was never given any instructions on tooth brushes, and I never wore a protective (or any) mask. I was lucky in that I never got any infections during chemo (four treatments in three months). I was told to avoid sick people, of course. I never had low white blood counts, so no Neulasta for me (again, I know I had it easy). And I hope you do, too! Best to you,, Carool

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Thanks Carool! Best to you as well. :)

      over 6 years ago
    • TXHills' Avatar
      TXHills

      I never needed Neulasta and had no infections other that a small yeast infection, even with 6 rounds of TC chemo over 4 months. I don't recall about the toothbrush issue, but I did learn that avoiding salad bars is a good idea. Those sneeze guards don't protect very much. Best wishes to you on this part of your journey. Please let your medical team know about any side effects. I did use salt water rinses 2-3 times per day every day and never had mouth sores.

      over 6 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar
      IKickedIt

      First, everyone responds differently to chemo (not to mention there are many different chemo "cocktails"), so your side effects may be completely different from even someone who is receiving the same exact treatment, and most likely different than others who are receiving a different chemo cocktail for a different type of chemo.

      You may not need Neulasta. If you do, you may not have the same pain (or intensity) that others feel. Just wait and see. If you do, however, many of us have found that taking a Claritin beginning the day before (and others say Tylenol helps, too) helps lessen the intensity.

      I think universally, we have all been told to avoid sick people, foods that may have residue (fresh vegetables and fruits that can't be peeled), foods that aren't fully cooked (sushi), and as many germs as possible. The last one is very challenging since you can't put yourself in a bubble and stop living. I had hand sanitizer and wipes with me so after I opened a door at a store, used a pen to sign a credit card or a check, or touched a shopping cart handle, I wiped (or as I called it with my students - gooped. Yes, I taught in a computer learning center touching the keyboards which are some of the most germ-ridden items out there and I was fine because I was vigilant about washing). I was told to avoid gardening, cleaning the bacteria-laden places in my house or to wear gloves.

      The only reason I was told to use a soft toothbrush was because my chemo could have caused gum sores. I was never told to wear a mask, even being a teacher and constantly surrounded by sniffling kids.

      You will just have to wait and see which side effects you'll have and what might help to lessen or resolve them. Keep a journal and record the side effects and what you tried, what worked, what didn't work. (i.e. constipation - try Senakot or prune juice, diarrhea - try Immodium, nausea - which drug dr. gives you, etc.).

      over 6 years ago
    • azsuper's Avatar
      azsuper

      Hang in there you do just fine.

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Thank you Texas, Ikickedit and AZ. Lots of good info. here! AZ, thank you. I've got four treatments over 12 weeks,Taxotere, Cytoxan and steroids. IkickedIt, you are amazing for doing well amid those keyboards. I've done that, and you are right...those are beyond grungy! Hope I won't need Neulasta, but have had low white cells since May, and maybe before. Fingers crossed.

      over 6 years ago
    • LindaAnnie's Avatar
      LindaAnnie

      I also had 12 weeks of Taxotere, Cytoxan, steroids, and Neulasta. I used an electric toothbrush all the way thru; although, I did switch to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and also used Biotene mouthwash. I took Clairitin before each Neulasta shot, not after. Go with your doctor's recommendation on the Neulasta shot -- I got cellulitis (infection) in my legs even with the shot. It probably would have been much worse without the shot.

      I think it's a great idea to stock up before hand!!! And I kept a journal of everything, which was very helpful. Everyone reacts differently, but I felt better having remedies on hand. Also, side effects are cumulative...

      Not to discourage you, but I got all the "classic" side effects from this mix -- constipation followed by diarrhea (never got the balance right); taste changes; mouth sores (Biotene and Miracle Mouthwash worked); only very slight nausea. And the long-lasting problems: hair loss (10 days in); nail discoloration and eventual loss; muscle aches; and fatigue. [my what's next journey has more details if you are interested.] Best of luck to you.

      over 6 years ago
    • Lindy's Avatar
      Lindy

      I put my power tools away for the duration, got a soft kiddie brush. Don't invite the devil to every party.

      over 6 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      I've had 4 cycles of Adriamycin/Cytoxan (with Neulasta shots) and am now on Taxol for 12 cycles (no Neulasta). Instructions from my chemo center were to take 10 mg Claritin and 2 tabs Tylenol (350 or 500 mg/tab, doesn't matter) on the day of chemo and for 4-5 days thereafter, to combat the Neulasta side effects. Neulasta was given 24 hours after my A/C chemo infusion.

      I use an extra-soft toothbrush (courtesy of my dentist). Chemo can cause mouth sores and mouth bacteria can do a job on a compromised immune system, so one has to be as gentle with gums as possible.

      I drink at least 10 glasses of water/day, more on infusion days during A/C, because chemo can be very dehydrating. I'm practically surgically attached to my water bottle. The water helps flush out toxins and helps combat constipation. I have metallic "chemo mouth" and add lemon juice to my water to make it more palatable.

      I keep track of side effects and communicate them to my medical team. One of my SEs was heartburn; my ARNP prescribed Prilosec, which solved the problem. I give my team a weekly SE report modeled on the chemo worksheet here:
      http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/toolstomonitortreatment/

      I tailor my chemo bag based on the suggestions here:
      https://www.whatnext.com/blog/posts/be-prepared-22-things-to-bring-to-chemo
      https://www.whatnext.com/blog/posts/things-to-bring-to-chemo-part-ii

      I stay away from crowds as much as possible, since I don't want to risk coming into contact with anyone who has cold or flu. I also carry hand sanitizer and wash my hands with soap frequently. Additional precautions are in this document:
      http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/chemotherapy/understandingchemotherapyaguideforpatientsandfamilies/understanding-chemotherapy-a-guide-toc

      According to AARP's "Squash the Superbugs" (I haven't found this online but it's a handout at my cancer center), wash hands frequently with warm water, use regular soap (don't need antibacterial), lather up everything, rinse repeatedly, and use a paper towel to shut off the water because faucet taps have germs.

      Prior to chemo I stocked up on Colace for constipation and Immodium AD for diarrhea. I haven't had to use either yet, but better to have and not need than to need and not have. My constipation was remedied with prune juice. In case of sore throat, my chemo center said to gargle with 1 cup water, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt. (I haven't needed to do that.)

      I was also told to use SPF 50 or greater sunblock when outdoors. Chemo has made my skin more sensitive to the sun. I also wear long sleeves even in Florida's 90+ degree summer heat, plus a hat. Plus sunglasses.

      I use mild baby soap in the shower, including on my near-bald head.

      I have face masks but haven't needed to use them thus far.

      In addition to hand sanitizer, I carry a small bag that contains Neosporin, sterile wipes, and Band-aids, because anything that breaks the skin needs to be cleaned and protected from infection as soon as possible.

      My SEs have generally been mild; I hope yours are as well. Good luck!

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      I was told to use face masks when cleaning the litter box, only time I needed them. You'll probably be told to double flush the toilet after using for a couple days after chemo. After you find out what foods taste good after treatments, stock up. Mine were mashed potatoes and watermelon. All other fruit tasted salty. I kept Miralax around to combat constipation from nausea meds, then Immodium for later. I was told to rinse my mouth with hydrogen peroxide. Wasn't as nasty as I thought it would be. Praying all goes well for you. Going into the first treatment I was very anxious, after that I was fine. ONC Nurse was great!

      over 6 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      Under normal circumstances, I used an electric toothbrush, but I switched to a soft bristled one while on chemo; and yes, I dinged up my mouth more with the latter! I had to be careful because I experienced a dangerous drop in WBC and contracted thrush while on chemo. We're all different, so you will have to see how it will affect you when you get your first infusion. Glad you are stocking up; even without chemo, it's a smart idea to have laxatives around for example. As for the masks, I have some because I had to wear them and rubber gloves when cleaning up after my kitty. HUGS and God bless!

      over 6 years ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar
      PrettyToes

      I had the same course of chemo as outlined by Ejourneys. I also did the same things she did during chemo. She has outlined it nicely. My doctor told me to use Dove soap because skin is so sensitive. As far as electric toothbrush, sonicare makes a brush for sensitive teeth, which I used. I don't know about other brands.

      over 6 years ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar
      PrettyToes

      Oh.... I kept disposable gloves ( buy in pharmacy area) in my purse and car. When I did go to the store, I wore gloves... Opening doors, pushing cart...those thing are proven to have lots of germs! No one ever said anything to me.

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      The chemo I had was Taxotere, and Carboplatin with targeted therapy drug Herceptin for being HER2+ I had 6 rounds of the chemo, 3 weeks apart. Neulasta shot was given the day after the chemo. My oncologist wanted me to have the shot routinely the day after chemo. My blood was not checked first. It was just a given that my white blood count would go down. My oncologist had me take the Claritin EVERY DAY from the start of my first chemo infusion until a few weeks after the very last one, 18 weeks later. Consequently, I did not have much problem with pain from the Neulasta shot (The shot by the way, is not painful. It is a very short needle and not as bad as you'd think for receiving it in the stomach. However I think some people opt to have it given somewhere else). I don't know if it was the Claritin that helped me not have the bone pain or if I just was not going to happen since everyone's body reacts differently. I would ask you oncologist if it is okay to take a Claritin every day for your entire chemo cycle.

      I did use an electric toothbrush. It is one my dentist wanted me to purchase. The brush on it is very soft. It is usually recommended that you see your dentist before you begin chemo. Tell your dentist you will be receiving chemo and see if she has any recommendations for you and your particular dental situation. My dentist recommended mints and gum with Xylitol as the Xylitol is actually supposed to be good for you.

      For mouth sores my oncologist office wanted me to rinse my mouth 4 or 5 times a day with a mixture of salt water and baking soda. I was also told not to use mouthwash containing alcohol as it would be harsh on your mouth if you had sores. I also drank a lot of water and sucked on ice chips when I was receiving the Taxotere to minimize mouth sores.

      As MLT stated, I too was anxious before the first chemo infusion since I didn't know what to expect, but I was fine after that too. I thought you were confined to the chair the whole time chemo is being administered. It was not like that. I could unplug the infusion unit and wheel it around with me to the restroom and to the snack room where my oncologist's facility had free snacks and drinks for patients.

      Let us know how you are doing.

      over 6 years ago
    • Josie777's Avatar
      Josie777

      Dear Pink Peony,

      First of all, I pray for God to protect you and give you strength for the journey. With Him, all things are easier. I had 4 rounds of AC, with Neulasta shots after and had absolutely no side effects from Neulasta and very little SE from chemo. I used my electric toothbrush all the time and did not have any mouth sore. I would like to share what I think helped me during chemo: a diet 95% without sugar and aloe juice (pure and organic). I also had 12 rounds of Taxol with little SEs. Drinking a lot of fluids is also essential ( I used to bring coconut water to my chemo sessions). Hang in there! There's light at the end of the tunnel. God bless you!!!

      over 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar
      fiddler

      I used one and it was okay, but I had mouth problems only once and Magic Mouthwash took it away - swish a gulpful around in your mouth for about 5-10 minutes, spit it out. The majority of my sores went away within a couple of hours.

      over 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar
      fiddler

      Oh - but regular toothpaste caused a burning sensation in my mouth, so I changed to baking soda (the arm & hammer one). When all through with treatment, I brushed with regular paste again and it was ... awful - took about 6 rinses to get all the stuff out of my mouth!

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your experiences. I found the sensitive electric toothbrush Pretty Toes, and will pick one up today. EJourneys thank you for a great list of things I did not think about. Have added gloves, bandaids and neosporin to the list. I am going to get some Biotene mouthwash and toothpaste, and need a new container of baking soda. Thank you all for your kind wishes and help. Jodie, you are so right, and I thank you for your prayers. God bless you all. Sending good wishes to my soul brothers and sisters.

      over 6 years ago
    • jad's Avatar
      jad

      I switched dentists before my diagnosis. She strongly urged me to use an electric toothbrush all the time.Simply because it works better. I was able to buy one directly from her. Her price was fair - she was not making much money on it, she does it more as a service.

      What I have is a Braun Oral B, Model 3757 with the Oral B Sensitive Brush Head. (I noticed these were not available at Costco or other discount stores). She advised me to stay away from the the other brush heads with things sticking out to massage gums etc. I tried price shopping but no one seems to carry the simple basic models she recommends.

      Also, during my chemo I used Biotene products. I had very dry mouth and it was sore. I almost went for the Magic Mouthwash (I believe it is a specially compounded or specially mixed product that the pharmacists makes up according to you doctors prescription.) The Magic Mouthwash was very expensive and I decided I wasn't hurting bad enough to use it. It made no difference in the end because my worst side effects involved my hands and feet, not my mouth.

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Thank you jad. I bought some Sonicare sensitive brush heads today that fit my Sonicare toothbrush, so I don't need to buy a whole new brush. I have a hard time getting my teeth clean with a regular toothbrush, so hope this works. Also bought some Biotene toothpaste and mouthwash for dry mouth. I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago, but he didn't say much, just that my teeth are in good shape right now. I appreciate the added info. Thank you!

      over 6 years ago
    • Lilly16's Avatar
      Lilly16

      Biotene mouthwash and dry mouth spray was a great help . Use my electric toothbrush thru my treatment. Gargle with biotene at the first sign of a mouth sores it will help to eliminate them. Take Claritin the day before your shot along with some Tylenol and for a few days after the shot. Don't forget to drink a lot of liquids. I could not tolerate anything cold so it was room temp for me. Try SOBE water it has a bit of flavor and will help with the aftertaste. It will be over before you know it. Huggs

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Thank you for your help and kind words Lilly. Best wishes and hugs back!

      over 6 years ago
    • Lilly16's Avatar
      Lilly16

      Any time sweetie. This is why we are all here. To land a sympathetic ear, offer advice and cheer each other on.

      over 6 years ago
    • barbaraanne's Avatar
      barbaraanne

      I used a medium toothbrush most of the time, I also used my electric toothbrush but not the 1st week after treatment ( when every thing seems to be over sensitive). I'd alternate between both. I also used a water pik on gentle flow, cause it didn't want to pick at the gums w/sharp object. Chemo screwed my gums up, I got an infection, so I had to take some antibiotics & rinse w/salt water to keep it at bay. As soon as I finished chemo& was able I had perio work done before rads it helped. I also rinsed w/biotene, act or crest complete mouth washes all w/o alcohol. The Claritin really helped ( my skin tends to be sensitive at times) it helped both w/ aches & itchiness . I took it for about 4-5 days after chemo & Neulasta shot. (Plus a pain killer at that time also). Then I'd stop till next treatment. Also suck on sugar free candies & drink plenty of water. I liked lemon & mint. I believe by keeping the mouth moist it helps to avoid sores. I did chemo 2x and it worked for me, best of luck to you..

      over 6 years ago
    • azsuper's Avatar
      azsuper

      Hi Pink Peony

      Everything going ok???

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Yes, thanks AZ. I start next week. The onc changed the date! :) Thank you for sharing your experience barbaraanne. Sorry to hear about your gums! Also good to know about the Claritin and the dental visit between chemo and rads. Best wishes to you!

      over 6 years ago
    • barbaraanne's Avatar
      barbaraanne

      Thanks Pink,
      and my best wishes to you....Keep us posted...:)

      over 6 years ago
    • Chrisg51's Avatar
      Chrisg51 (Best Answer!)

      Good luck with your Chemotherapy this week

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      You too Chris! I read your note about rescheduling to the 2nd. Mine was changed to the 4th. I've been dreaming about this experience during the night...onward and upward girl. Hugs. :)

      over 6 years ago
    • jackiwalkr's Avatar
      jackiwalkr

      My doc recommended using electric. He said let it do the work. Avoid the gums. I use baking soda the first sign of sores and they go away. I use Tom's mouthwash several times a day to keep the dryness away. Fight on.

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Thank you Jacki! I am still having mouth sore issues, so the doc is keeping me on nystatin, and I've added Healios, Lysine and B6. I'll also try the brushing with baking soda. Electric is working well so far, and it keeps my teeth cleaner. The bummer is having to brush every time I eat...Thanks so much for the tips. Fight on is right. We'll rock it! :)

      over 6 years ago
    • jackiwalkr's Avatar
      jackiwalkr

      Pink Just saw my doc and he asked if I was drinking ice drinks while getting chemo, chewing on ice chips etc. I replied yes and he thinks that and baking soda mouth wash, 1 tbsp. to 1 cup water has kept my sores at bay. Making a mouth wash is easier than brushing. I use crest sensitive fyi for brushing. Oh and I only use Claritin when I am achy usually in hips after Neulasta shot. Didn't need it at all this last treatment. I am severely anemic so after my final chemo I will get another transfusion. That should help me recover quicker so I will stay on schedule for lumpectomy and radiation. This is sure one XXX of a ride. Have a great weekend.

      over 6 years ago
    • pamapples' Avatar
      pamapples

      I received Neulasta the day after each chemo treatment. Tylonol is what my nurse said to use. It can cause your long bones to ache but mine never did. I didn't do any stocking up. You just have to make sure you keep away from sick people as much as possible. That being said, I will tell you I work as a manager of housekeeping in a hospital and worked all through my treatments with the exception of a week when I went from 1 chem to the next and they didn't agree with each other.

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar
      PinkPeony

      Hi Pam, you are fortunate that you were able to continue working. Sounds like you did well. Unfortunately, I had many side effects, but did not need Neulasta. I am now done, thank God. I could not have worked during this time but am retired, so it is all good. Really happy to hear you did so well.

      over 6 years ago

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