Avoiding bugs and keeping as healthy as possible(!)

Hey Ladies,

I am due to begin my chemo on Friday. I am happy to be starting but of course terrified at the same time.

I was looking for advice because, like everyone, I am desperate to avoid infections and bugs and hopefully keep myself as healthy as is possible in this crazy situation!

Do any of you have any advice? I am thinking obviously avoid busy public places (including work for me as I teach small people), get away from people with sneezes and snot etc but is there anything at home I can do?

Do I do extra hot washes of bedding and towels? Do I get visitors to wash their hands when they come in?! Do I bleach the bin a little more?! Do I keep away from the cat in case she scratches?! Yes I am more than a little paranoid!

Also going out… I want to walk out and shop a little when I feel well but what about infections?

I am on a two weekly cycle and will have jabs in between to boost my white blood cells but just wanted to see if anyone could help me out a bit.

Thank you and sorry for sounding like such a nutter! =/

Hi Joanna,
you are not a nutter - it is pretty scary when they start telling you what infections can do to you isn’t it?

I had a standard 3-week cycle and only had neulasta during the second set of three ‘druggings’ as I was on FEC-T, so a bit different.

It is mostly common sense, so please don’t panic. I walked every day - was advised to be my onc - went into shops and was lucky enough to be able to carry on with work. The chemo nurses just told me to be sensible too.

What I did so was to carry a little bottle of antibacterial gel with me everywhere I went and used it often. The other thing is to keep drinking lots of water (chemo dehydrates you) and take care of your mouth - I used to suck boiled sweets to help ease sore throats and prevent infection. Also moisturise your skin top to toe daily then it’s less likely to get sore or split

As far as washing clothes/bedding I used the same cycles as usual and was fine.

I didn’t have a pet at the time (have since inherited a gorgeous moggy) but the advice is basically wash your hands thoroughly especially if changing litter trays. And scratches should be anti-bac-ed straight away and covered with a plaster.

For shopping, I avoided busy times, and tried only to handle stuff I wanted, but was not obsessive or paranoid. Again, a quick squeeze of anti-bac gel works wonders.

Buses and trains are best avoided - full of sneezing coughing people who don’t think to cover their faces… not that I have a thing about it or anything… just I got an infection that way!

I was advised only to go to cafes or restaurants I already knew and ot stick to foods I’d had before. Again, beware hot, stuffy places, but a coffee at a quiet time might well be possible.

As far as visitors are concerned I worked on the basis of anti-baccing my hands after they’d left.

Don’t let this stop you living as normal a life as you can.
I think it’s important to try to eat as healthily as you can. Every hospital has slightly different guidelines, but basically hot food hot, cold food cold, and make sure you wash any veg thoroughly.

You’ll find your way through, we all do, so try not to worry too much.

Hope your side effects are teeny weeny and your chemo successful.

EDIT: a useful thread to check out is here: share.breastcancercare.org.uk/forum/top-tips-to-help-get-you-through-chemotherapy-t19110.html

Hiya - I bought lots of little bottles of antibacterial hand gels, I carried one with me at all times, and there were bottles dotted all around the house with a larger one by the front door. Everyone soon got used to using the gel as they walked into the house.

I went for walks but not into shops when I was was in the Neutropenic stage. I was on the EC chemo for four sessions and then on Tax for another four. Whilst on EC your resistance to infection is usually at its lowest 10-14 days after chemotherapy. The number of white blood cells will then increase steadily and usually return to normal before then next dose is due. When I was on Tax - the neutropenic stage began 5-7 days after treatment and reached it’s lowest 7-10 days after chemo.

I was on three weekly cycles and had jabs the day after chemo to boost white blood cells. Which didn’t work when I had the first chemo as I ended up in hospital on antibiotic drips for 3 days.

Also - buy yourself a digital thermometer and start using it every day so that you get used to what your normal temperature is. One of the first signs of infection is a raised temperature.

Good luck for Friday - I got through it and so will you.

Ditto with alchohol gels - I had them everywhere! And anti-bac. soap in kitchen and bathrooms…

I found that going into Tesco’s at night I caught an infection in the most vulnerable time, so then I chose not to go out during the most infectious days - ask which those are for you on a 2 weekly cycle. I had friends come to see me (but obviously not if they had a bug). One does become paranoid… about all sorts of things (as well as infection)… but you WILL get through it… God bless, Jane

Thanks for your messages. Your comments really help and I will get gelling. I need to find a balance between healthy and obsessive now. X

I second what the others said, I used anti -bac gels and stayed away from public places during the usual cattle market times. It’s good to be paranoid because that’s what will keep you on your toes but after my 3rd chemo I relaxed the worry a bit. Just be aware but don’t let it take over your life.

Hi ladies

Yes, I second what everyone has said on here.

However, I wanted to start a new thread but couldn’t figure out how and I know that I’ve started threads in the past but for some reason my brain has closed down and I don’t now know how to start a new thread !!!


We take my 88=year old mother-in-law to a carvery which she absolutely loves. She can queue (relic of the war years??), take her plate to her table, eat, get out of there and get home in time for the snooker. Or thereabouts.

This has been the pattern for many years now.

It occurred to me during my sleepless night that the carvery was the most infectious place on the planet!!! Those covered spoons which are kept under hot lights on top of hot plates between what, 12 noon and 9:30 at night - we normally get there on Sundays around 1-4pm or, during the week, around 4:30pm. But those spoons have material covers on the handles, are never changed, and are kept warm all that time. How germacious(???) is that??

Erm, so I won’t be going there again.

Good luck to us all.


PS - Can anyone tell me how to start a new thread because this old chemo brain of mine can’t see how to!!!

LL and GS thank you also.

GS, to begin a new topic go on the left of the page to the area that you would like to post in (undergoing treatments, have I got… etc), click on the area that you wish to add to and then part way up the page towards the right of the screen I think is the option to start a new post.

I hope that that makes sense! X

Granny I agree when you start to strip it down and think about certain places you realise how germious they truly are and when we are healthy we get away with it lol

The same for those all you can eat Chinese buffets - the amount of bugs keeping food warm, people with possible bugs touching up the stuff, picking up stuff and putting it back…I have personally banned myself from any buffet type eateries I’d rather al a carte., but even then we can’t guarantee it’s treated any better.

Hi Joanna,

Can’t add much to what the others have said apart from with cats (I have 2) , I’ve just had my inal chemo and if I get a cat scratch etc, I just bathe it immediately in Surgical Spirit - so I’ve never had any problems from them!

Good luck with your journey


Ps Granny & Libralady - I’m with both of you - no buffets, no carvaries I hate the thought of them - luckily OH is now well trained!! :)) What is Brittain’s obsession with eating as much as you want, lukewarm food???

I have to say I wasn’t anything like as fussy about looking after myself as some other posters and I managed to avoid infections, but it could be just that I was quite lucky as my blood counts were fine and I didn’t have any delays for my chemo because of low immunity. I did hibernate quite a bit so avoided being around crowds mainly because I was too knackered to go out, but I had a couple of cycles where I spent the day at a swimming competition surrounded by warm moist air and several hundred people milling around in the germ soup that is the swimming pool atmosphere…

The thing is, you probably don’t need to go bananas on hygiene but the anti-bac gel is a very good idea to carry with you and use often. It has often be suggested to eat a pregnancy diet, but that’s to do with things like cooking properly to kill off any bugs, you don’t need to avoid liver.

Good luck with your chemo, and there will be plenty of people going through it with you, so join in with the January thread if you want people to hold hands with.