• What can I do to prepare for my first chemo cycle?

    Asked by BetsyP on Monday, October 29, 2012

    What can I do to prepare for my first chemo cycle?

    15 Answers from the Community

    15 answers
    • nobrand's Avatar

      Start making a concerted effort to drink more water and get hydrated. Treat yourself well and relax. I found it pretty helpful to look up my chemotherapy drugs on the internet to have some background information. You can do this!

      almost 8 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar

      Nobrand is absolutely correct. Hydration!!! Drinks lots and lots of water. You already have to deal with some of the side effects of the chemo, dehydration just makes it worse. For some, eating a small meal like a bowl of ceral before treatment can help to cut down on some of the nausea. I would avoid larger meals until you get a feel of your body will respond to the chemo. Everyone responds differently. I personally had quite a bit of nausea and weakness associated with my chemo but some people have very mild nausea and no other side effects. Some don't experience nausea at all. Just depends on the person. Good luck with your treatments. It will be over before you know it. Keep us updated and we can talk you through your treatments which will hopefully make it go faster.

      almost 8 years ago
    • Liju's Avatar

      EAT HEALTHY, your WBC will began to drop so you'll be tired. Wear a Mask when you are around a crowd of people , esp sick people. You can get sick very quickly!! During my chemo i became nauseated so take some hard candy with you just in case. Nausea is always the big problem with chemo, don't eat anything heavy after chemo!! Best of luck to you!

      almost 8 years ago
    • teddyfuzz's Avatar

      I had Cytoxan and Taxotere and found that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had a Scopolomine patch for nausea and I didn't get sick once during chemo. I actually put on a few pounds. The main thing that chemo does is makes you TIRED! So don't expect to be able to keep up with your normal pace of doing things. You'll learn how to prioritize what really HAS to be done vs. what you WANT to do. Allow yourself plenty of time to rest. It was helpful for me to keep a log of all the medications I was taking. Chemo sometimes gives you "chemo brain" and I couldn't remember whether or not I had taken something. Because I was writing it down, I could double-check my log to see whether or not I was on schedule for my meds. And like the others have said, drink lots of water and eat healthy. I'm sending you well wishes and hopes that you sail right through this! *hugs* Jamie

      almost 8 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      Yup, drink a LOT of water and eat healthy, especially foods known to boost your immune system. Relax and wash your hands A LOT!
      I was on the CMF cocktail, every 21 days and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I mean, it was no picnic, but I didn't experience any nausea, in fact, I actaully gained wieght on chemo.
      Rest as much as you can and hydrate hydrate hydrate. Oh, I said that already ;-)

      almost 8 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      You received good advice here. Drink lots of water to keep well-hydrated. Anticipate side effects like nausea, and ask for a prescription for home so you can deal with that rather than having to go back out to the drug store. If it's going to be a long chemo session, you might want to bring something with you to keep you entertained and pass the time.


      The 6th item down the list on this next link is a helpful and simple American Cancer Society side-effects worksheet that you can use to play nurse to yourself at home. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/chemotherapy/index It provides a place to record your temperature, walks you through possible side effects you may notice, and includes tips on when you might need to contact your doctor. You can print pages 2-5, and select the quick print low ink option when you go to print it out to save on ink. Choose double sided printing to save on paper. You can either use the form, or use it as a checklist and just jot down notes on another sheet of paper. I think it's helpful.

      If you're having a bad week, call the chemo nurse, and let them know. Don't suffer through to your next appointment.

      almost 8 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Lot's of great advice. I would also discuss having a port inserted. IV infusions 2-3 weeks in a row can cause veins to collapse, which can be painful. I started chemo in mid-May and finally had my port installed the 2nd week of August. Listen to your body. Take it easy, don't try to do too much. managing my energy is one of my biggest challeges.

      almost 8 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      I have two things to add....

      One - it's manageable nearly all of the time. You can still do stuff...and you should. Keep moving - get some exercise every single day! Keep doing things! I worked through chemo - had to take about a half-day off each weak for the chemo itself... and I had two cycles (out of sixteen) that were rough and caused me to take half-days at work a few extra times. Nothing more than typical for MN winters, actually. Anyway, my onc team told me that couch potatoes suffer the most...

      Two - consider adding GLUTAMINE - you can buy this as a powder. You swirl around 10 g in a cup of water... and drink up! Do this three times per day for the first few days after every treatment. It helps with neuropathy and mouthsores and some other issues. OF COURSE - ask your onc team what they think first, but this supplement has actually been through clinical trial and shown to reduce side effects without reducing the efficacy of chemotherapy. I did this... and I am sure that it helped a ton!

      And - of course - good luck. Sorry you have to do this. It sucks - no way around that. But, it is manageable.

      almost 8 years ago
    • princess123's Avatar

      I was given steriods, nausea medication and Benadryl to keep down the reactions. Take a book or something to do and something to snack on. You will be setting there for hours. I did not get sick at anytime during chemo because of the pre-meds they gave me. If your still in the sleepy stage, this is a good time to take a nap. If you have a spouse or friend to keep you company that will make the time go faster. Keep in mind they can give you the pre-meds to keep you from getting sick. The steriods keep the reactions down and make you feel energized for the rest of that day and the next day. Good luck. It's not as bad as it used to be. If I can get through this, anybody can.:)

      almost 8 years ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar

      Consider asking your oncologist if you can take a probiotic. Chemo kills bad cells, but also rapidly growing good cells like hair and gut. I started a probiotic early on, and have very few GI problems. So far, I have completed 4 cycles of FAC, and 10 of taxol, and 7 weeks of xeloda.

      almost 8 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar

      First. Don't Panic. :-)

      I know. It's easy to imagine all the terrible things that can happen--but they probably won't and that's why they invented nurses. They really do keep an eye on you.

      You'll probably spend hours just sitting there. You may sleep through some of it--especially if you are pretreated with Benedryl--but there will still be hours of down time. So, by all means, bring a book, bring your laptop, bring music, bring your iPad, bring any projects you can do while sitting in a recliner.

      almost 8 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I can remember being so apprehensive for the first chemo -- Jan 5, 2012 -- I documented each session in detail (and I mean "detail") on my wall. Of course, everyone is different. However, reading it may give you some idea of what to expect. I hope it helps. I wish you the best! Keep us updated.

      almost 8 years ago
    • Myungclas' Avatar

      During chemo your white cell count will be low, so eating raw fruits and vegetables is a bad idea...and so is gardening, apparently. Enjoy those things before and in the third week just before the next round. Mix up a baking soda saltwater mixture to gargle throughout treatment to combat mouth sores. Shore up your protein counts...that's what your body will use to replace cells. I bought a wig the week before my first round and had my hair cut to match it, so the transition wouldn't be extreme for me or my coworkers. Proactive feels like controlling what little you can. You're about to join an army of strong women. Welcome! And God bless.

      almost 8 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      A lot of good advice here on getting physically prepared so I'll pass on those suggestions. You will need to get yourself emotionally and mentally prepared, too. First, you will most likely be at the chemo center for hours, so pack yourself a goodie bag. I had a backpack that I kept packed with magazines, my backgammon set, a deck of cards, slipper socks, a jacket and some snacks I knew I could eat. I never brought this bag into my house, it always stayed in my car. I didn't want to see it in between treatments...and then there was a huge sense of joy when I finished my treatments and brought the bag into the house and unpacked it!

      At the chemo center, you will be sitting for a long time...that's it. With the IV. The nurses will always be there to monitor everything so there is nothing scary going on. I was terrified my first few times and always wanted a friend to be there with me, but a few treatments in, I was telling friends I wanted that alone time so I could get some work done! During your first treatment, they will give you a few drugs which will probably make you drowsy (Adavan for anti-anxiety). After the first treatment, I didn't need it so I told the nurses I didn't want it (because I couldn't drive if I had gotten it).

      My nurses were great about telling me everything they were doing step-by-step and what to expect. I kept a journal from cycle to cycle and recorded the side effects so I could prepare for them and possibly offset them. I found that for the most part, the side effects were consistent from treatment to treatment, although they are cumulative so they can get more severe. Recording that helped me tremendously, both physically and psychologically. It helped me to predict my good days and bad days, when I could possibly plan visits, family outings, get-togethers with friends.

      Looking back, I think that my journey was as much mental as it was physical, so set goals for yourself, take care of your emotional health. While you're going through treatment, it's about you. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Allow people to help you, but go on living. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't let cancer interfere with your life any more than it has to. Good luck!

      almost 8 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      Have some prunes or any laxative available! Chemo & the other meds can be constipating. Also have plenty of juices & beverages in hand as well as easy to eat & prepare food. Get comfy Jammie's & slippers ready. I would get your home all cleaned up & laundry done so you can rest. Make sure you have some help for the first week or so & pan to rest all you too. It is not fun, but it is doable. Best of luck to you!

      almost 8 years ago

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