I have finished my chemo and am having surgery tomorrow which is another step I'm really nervous over and I know exactly how you feel the unknown is scary. As for what to expect I think it has to do with the stage of your cancer and the strength and how much chemo. Being 25 that will be in your favor for sure. I am stage 3 and had 18 treatments. At first it wasn't too bad the hardest part for me is how weak it made me, I live in a second floor apartment and getting myself up and down the stairs has been hard I still am not able to carry anything up or stand on my feel but for a short period of time. My pain was managed well and I had very few times I threw up they have great nausea medicine these days. I was so terrified because I watched my mother go through chemo and saw what it did to her and didn't want to go through that myself. On the good side I have lost weight and I needed to lose the poundage lol..Now as for the kids I had to explain to a 5 and 6 year old what was going to happen, kids are more understanding and resilient than we give them credit for. But with the knowing that hair loss was coming to and not really knowing how to explain it all I was bless with meeting a woman the illustrated a book her friend wrote for kids who know someone going through cancer the title is Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings by Ellen McVicker. I don't know how easily availabe they are in stores but you can go to www.butterflykissesbook.com and get it online. Hope I helped some let me know if you need any more information I will do what I can to help and be prepared to have days that it is hard to get out of bed, I hope you have some support to help you through this, you will need it. Let me know how you do.
Breast Cancer Questions
Starting to get nervous.
Asked by Ash on Sunday, November 11, 2012
Starting to get nervous.
So I start my chemo Tuesday and I'm getting pretty nervous. I don't think I'm nervous about starting chemo I think I'm more nervous not knowing really what to expect. I also have 3 little girls at home ages 5, 4, and 2. What Is the best way to tell your children what's going on when they see me sick?
29 Answers from the Community
Thank you for that information Kleslied and If I'm counting right lol I'm going to have 16 treatments of chemo. I'm just the type of person that I need to know what's next and I know I can't have that always, but I did find this website and It's helped me out alot and I have already met some amazing people with alot of good advice. Thank you again and good luck with your surgery tomorrow I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
Thankfully, I didn't have the problem with little kids. I would expect that little more than "Mommy is sick and needs some rest," might be necessary. I wouldn't hide it from them--they'll know something is wrong and not knowing would be worse.
There's probably no way to make you feel less nervous. :-) The way I dealt with it was to think of it as me fighting back against the cancer. Take That! And That! And That! :-)
Wow! You have your hands full. Of course you are getting nervous. I think the unknown is one of the worst parts of cancer and its treatment. Waiting for results....not knowing what chemo is like...I
Medication really helped me relax. This may not be an option for you if you don't want to be sleepy. I also listened to relaxation tapes and they REALLY helped me. The ones I relied on were by Jon Kabat-Zinn and a homemade cd from a therapy nurse. There are many good ones out there. The Kabat-Zinn one is an hour long, others are shorter. You will probably receive steroids with your chemo and these may make you restless and interfere with sleep. You may want help with that - don't be afraid to ask.
Typically, I would be OK immediately post chemo (Wednesday) and for the two days following. By the weekend I needed to be in bed for a couple of days. These days were pretty uncomfortable. You may need help with childcare. Then on Monday, I would be tired, but ready to go back to work. Don't be afraid to ask for help and be specific. People really want to know what you need and feel good about being able to help.
Finally, remember to drink a lot of fluids before chemo. It will help to flush your body.
Best of luck. You can get throught this, Ash. xoxoxo Lynn
Thank you Lynn for your advice. Ya I'm a little nervous about work to. I work at a hotel at the front desk and I'm hoping I can still work, but then I start thinking about being around alot of people and It scary thinking that I can get sick easily. It's alot of decision making and I don't even know where to start.
I don't have kids of my own but I was running a summer camp while going through chemo and didn't know how to explain why the campers couldn't come into my office and why I couldn't go on the bus to the field trips (fear of getting sick).
I expected the worst and when the worst side effects didn't happen, I was pleasantly surprised. Side effects happened, just not really really bad ones I guess.
I have a blog where I write in detail about my experiences if you'd like to check it out. But of course, everyone is different and has different experiences.
i'm a mom too - we have a ten year old...
so, i have a bunch of thoughts.
1 - my oncs all told me that if i treated chemo like an inconvenience (it totally was), then that was probably what it was gonna be. they told me to stay active and keep working, unless i had to stop. i also had 16 cycles - 12 weekly taxol (with carboplatin every third week and an experimental drug - part of ISPY2 clinical trial) followed by 4 treatments of AC every other week.
yeah - i was more tired. yeah - i felt kind of fluish at times. yeah - i had nausea. but it was ALL manageable. i rode my bike every single day of chemo (except for the few days of one business trip). every single day. but, the good days WAY OUTNUMBERED the bad days.
2 - your kids are younger, so they won't understand as much... but we just told our son what was going on - in an age appropriate sort of a way...
3 - we had someone come clean every other week (uhm - haven't given that up -turns out, totally worth every penny!!!!!). if you can afford it, do it! if you have friends, ask for a bit of help! we did have friends who bring us meals a few times... and so on.... even small bits of help are just wonderful...
4 - no one gets every single side effect. no one. everyone's different, so it's hard to know which ones you'll get. but, there are some things you can do to keep the side effects at a minimum... one is STAY ACTIVE. no, you're not going to go out and win races... but you can run or bike or walk everyday... another is to add GLUTAMINE as a supplement. this is available as a powder at many health food stores. you take 10 g at a time - swirled in water - three times per day for the first several days after each treatment. it makes a difference and has been shown to make a difference in a few clinical trials (google glutamine and chemotherapy and neuropathy for more information). of course, ask your health care team before adding any supplement - there are a few that can interfere with the action of chemo... but glutamine is definitely one to consider!
probably my biggest two side effects were crappy blood counts (red and infection fighting cells) and nausea. they make good drugs for the latter, and they have shots to help with infection fighting cells. the anemia was a drag... but, i still managed to commute by bike and ride my bike quite a lot....
one thing here - tell your docs / health care providers about every single side effect. every one. even the ones that make you blush. they can make some of them better....
5 - it is cumulative... what sucks about that is that it gets a little worse with each cycle. for me, the taxol phase was a drag... but really, not nearly as bad as i had expected. the ac phase - that sucked for me. i had loads of nausea, and my final cycle did knock me down pretty hard (worked half days for nearly one full week).
hmmm - what else.... it seems like an eternity.... but it's over before you know it...
ok - last thing is that whole immune system thing....
the one thing that prevents you from catching bugs the best? hand hygiene! washing your hands twenty times a day is likely to lead to cracking hands and so on.... but the very kind nurses in chemoland gave me a couple of those canisters of hand foam, and i used that a ton. i also had a pretty strict foam in policy in my office when my infection fighters were particularly low... i finished all of that chemo with only two colds. honestly, that's better than the norm for minnesota winters!
the other side of the immune system thing is that we are a mix and match of a wide variety of organisms... and when your immune system really tanks, you can get pretty sick when that mix and match falls out of whack. the nurses will tell you that you should watch for fevers... you get a fever... and you head to the urgent care / hospital ASAP....
well, i guess i had a lot to say on this topic. at the end of the day, i wish you didn't have to do this. but, the good days out number the bad days....
i wish you the most efficacy and the least side effects!
My youngest daughter was turing 8 when I was DX....I found a great book, don't remember the exact title, but it was something like, The Year My Mother had Breast Cancer....it was "fiction" based on fact with facts about the Tx...I found it at the library.....DD and I took turns reading the book together.....I had bilat, then chemo, rads, AI's and ooph....My daughter came with me when I got my hair cut short, then shorter before it fell out....I did pretty well after my first chemo, for the regimine I had, TAC was every 3 weeks.....I ususally came home and went to bed, and each day after was better...chemo was on Thursday and I went back to work on Mondays....I had friends take her for play dates, pick her up from school etc...and friends cooked for us the week of chemo...I went for IV hydration the couple days after chemo and my DD came with me and my DH....she got to watch videos when I was getting the IV's and she also came to one chemo.....
I would use your children as a guide to what you tell them..don't tell them more than they can handle....tell them you have an ouchy in you and that you are going to get medicine to make you better, but that the medicine might make you feel sick and that medicine will make your hair fall out......if you are going to wear a wig, let them know its a wig....and maybe let them help shave your head.....
All the best to you......I'm glad that you foudn this site, but sorry that you are having to go down this journey...it is hard, but it is doable!!!!
I have 3 Great Grandchildren - I babysit for 2 of them 2 days a week. During Chemo - one was 3 years old and the other was 8 months old -- At that time, I was babysitting one day a week and never missed a day -- however, my husband was with me most of the time. Gavin is 4 now and I was always open with him about my illness -- we would joke around about Grandma's bald head -- and if I was a little out of sorts, he would play Doctor and tend to me in his "little boy" way. Ava is one now -- she used to take off my baseball cap and rub my head and laugh so hard. I think it even helped me to just make light of it with the kids -- and they were so accepting. I posted details of my journey on my wall (and I mean details!!) -- reading it may help you to know what to expect. Also, I included hints that I learned such as Claritin (NOT Claritin D) to prevent bone pain from the Neulesta shot. I wish you the best -- you will be in my thoughts and prayers today.
IOf course you are nervous. Just remember-- I am a teacher and worked through my chemo (and radiation). I never missed a day of work. Kids are resilient. If you need to tell them anything just tell them that you've been sick andf are taking medicine that will make you better. That is what I told my own little kids when my Mother went through her treatment. Things might niot be so bad-- I was shocked and expected so much worse. I had two types of chemo for two different cancers. Yes, I was tired, but able to function. I am 63. Good luck to you!
the good news is you may not even get sick from the chemo. My nurses give me pre-meds to keep me from having reactions. Benadryl, steriods and 2 nausea meds. I have never gotten sick and vomiting. Some chemos do make you very tired. The first one I was on I felt good the day of and the next day I felt great. The second one (the one I am on now) makes me very tired. That will make it hard on you since you will still have little ones to care for. good luck.
Ash, You know that book you wanted to read and never have the time? You will be sitting there for hours during chemo. Take a book. Also you and recline back and sleep. I call it the Spa because they pamper me with warm blankets and are so sweet when I go in. If your close friend is able to she can go with you and you can have a little girl time to yourselves. When I had Toxal is when I had the "up" day the next day. Everyone does react different. :)
Heck, they mainline you with Benedryl--you will sleep. :-)
Just thought of this. Lynn mentioned an Arthur episode. There are also books that can help small kids understand a bit. The Children's Librarian at your local public library can probably help you find something good.
If it is Is available to you I highly recommend hypnotism. I used it instead of pain killers. The anti nausia drugs gave me a massive headache so I was unable to take them. The facility where I was treated employed a social worker who was also a certified hypnotist. I even had two sessions during treatments. The facility also had a Therapy Dog on staff, I did not use her services because I had two kitties who would not like me to smell of dog.
Explaining cancer to family is hard no matter what their ages are. Here again I found the social workers to be a great help. My problem was somewhat different. I was the caretaker for my Downs Syndrome Brother. He is an adult who reads at the eighth grade level. his understanding is a little higher. He could not understand the literature for adult but the literature for children was too simple. So my wonderful social worker combined the adult literature with the children literature and created a whole new publication.
What I am saying here is use your social services, Also if possible get a massage. (some insurances cover it) I could not use a massage because when I was on Chemo I was being fed through a tube. But others taking Chemo found it very useful
Hi Ash Fear of the unknown is so normal.esp. when you have kids. I have ages9,7,3,and kne. When I was able to talk wo crying my hubby and I sat down our oldest two and explained what I had and how the meds where going ti make me feel.We also asked if they had any q,'s which they did oddly enough my 7 yo who was 6 at the tkme wss hung
sorry trying to type this on my kindle. my six yo was hjng up on the fact that I was going to lose my hair but she has come to accept it and even told me she doesn't want me to grow it back. As far as cleaning services there are a few natl ones that where featured on this page under. If I can find them I'll post them on your page. Good luck and take it one day at a time. xoxo
Hi Ash, I just have to add my 2 cents worth to all the other info. I just finished my 6th and last chemo treatment Nov. 6th. I found that each treatment was different; only had one treatment that resulted in nausea and vomiting. There are other, less difficult to deal with, symptoms but quite manageable. Will be having radiation beginning in December. I was very anxious just before starting chemo - the unknown aspect - and am also anxious about starting radiation. Seems that everyone reacts differently - hear this from all the medical team as well as friends who have walked this walk.
I have been so very blessed with help/support from my friends and family - people just showing up with a meal, offering to clean, drive, whatever needed. So as others have said, don't be shy in asking for any help that you might need.
I do want to share this very special letter I got; will start from the beginning even though it will be long but feel it is well worth the read:
"A little angel blessed me today" - I had my third infusion today and all went as usual. I feel very tired ....took a nap when I got home. BUT, a darling little angel by the name of Kylee was waiting along with me, her mother, and another lady to use the restroom at the infusion center. Kylee had a basket of things and I asked her about them. She was a bit shy so her mother explained that the gifts in the basket were for people with cancer; she asked me if I would like a gift and, of course, I said yes. He mom took a picture of us as well. When I got home I opened the gift which consisted of a personal sized kleenex, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and 3 home made cookies along with this handwritten letter from Kylee. Her letter reads as follows: "Hello! My name is Kylee and I am in third grade. I know that it is hard when you are going through cancer because my Mom had it. I made you a gift so that you can feel a little better. From, Kylee".
I can't begin to tell you how that little girl, her mother, and the "gift" have touched my heart. I still get tears when I read her letter. I know your children are younger but involving them in whatever way that is age appropriate will help to make them feel as though they are helping. Children are very perceptive and need to hear the truth albeit at what their level is.
Take advantage of whatever services are offered in your community. One thing that I have found to be so true is that there are angels in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and places and we just never know when one will be there for us.
Take good care,
I didn't have small children, I had grandchildren, but they are pretty good at understanding that you will need your rest so you can get better. There is also books from the American Cancer Society that will help, go to their library look for childrens books and there is at least one that is on Someone You Love Has Cancer, also call the[phone number redacted] and a person on the other line can talk to you about information they offer to assist. They are there 24/7 just to help.
Many people have issues with hair loss, which I really didn't as I had in my head that it will grow back, but sometimes children will worry when they see this. Just explain to them that it is like the sickness inside of you, it has to come out so the new healthy you can grow stronger.
Good Luck and know that your strength comes from within, your support comes from those who love you and your children are your focus on your getting healthy. Prayers of strength to you and your family.
Ash, my daughter was 3 when I was diagnosed and my niece was 8.We weren't sure how to tell the girls but we found an awesome book that explained about the hair loss and about Mommy being sick. Look at the library or even with the foundations.They have the books to explain everything on a child's level.I actually found one at the cancer center where I received my treatments!
I would recommend buying a wig before your hair falls out. Even though I knew it was coming, it was pretty upsetting when it happened . Having a wig ready helped .Check with your local cancer society. I bet there is a "Look good ... Feel better class" near you. It is free, but you have to register. It is a great class for women going through cancer treatment, with tips for skin care, head wraps and more. I would recommend going earlier, than later , in your treatment if possible. I learned some very useful things that I just would not have known otherwise.
I had a nephectomy when my DD was 5. I told her the truth in terms that she could understand. Kids know when something is wrong so it is best to honest with them, but don't overburden them with information. I told DD that I had a boo-boo inside and I was going to the hospital so they could remove it. I would not be feeling well for a while afterwards as I was getting better. When she was about 10 is asked if it was cancer and I said yes. her reply "ok, just wondering". So my advice is let them know that you have a "boo-boo" and that you are being treated so you can get better, and that there may be days you feel better then others. At this point, telling your children you have cancer is way more then they can process, but a mom who has a boo-boo is something they can understand.
My children were 9 and 12 when I was diagnosed. I was very, very nervous about starting chemo. It was definately the most frightening thing I've ever done. In hindsight, it wasn't so bad. The anti-nausea meds, steroids, and all the other meds they have these days are really good. The doctors really don't want you getting "sick" from the chemo meds. So, make sure you have the meds you need during and after each treatment. My biggest problem was 3 days after each treatment I was supposed to stop taking the anti-nausea meds. So, day 4-5 were the worst for me, just a bit nauseous and "yucky" feeling. I ended up taking a bit more meds on day 4 and day 5 and that helped get through that part. Then I'd be fine for a week and then do it all again. Drink a ton of fluids and get up and walk and move as much as possible - be strong and help the chemo do its thing while also fighting as hard as you can to get it out of your body. You'll be more susceptible to infection - is there any way you can have a different job at the hotel so you don't have to deal with the public during chemo?
We explained what was going to happen to my children and mostly, we wanted them to continue with their lives. For the first chemo round I had them spend the night at friend's houses, just in case I got really sick. But it didn't happen, so after each treatment, we got more and more comfortable with it and the children got used to the routine. Chemo is a long process and requires a lot of patience and trust in your doctors, and help from your friends. Your children are so young. I hope you have good friends who can take them for playdates and care for them so you can rest when you need to. All the best.
Ash - hopefully this article will help you: http://marnieclark.com/how-to-tell-your-child-you-have-breast-cancer/ Hugs to you, my dear.