Help! I’m a fainter


I’m going to be starting EC chemo in a few weeks but with bloods I have been know to faint. I also fainted when I had the MRI when they flushed the dye through so wondering how I’m going to get through chemo without fainting each time. 

I’ve seen posts about the PICC lines, any advice on that at all? 

Does a cannula hurt being put in?

can you feel the drugs being flushed through?


Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated


Lora xx 

Hey Lora,


im not a fainter but i do have problems with needles… i am absolutely terrified when i go for my chemo because my veins arent good on one hand and geting the cannula line in can be challenging.


so im having a picc line fitted this coming thursday so take away my stress and fears.

sometimes when the drugs are being flushed into my body i had a slight strange feeling,  not painful just kinda weird…  but we all react differently.

what is your treatment plan ?   I am Triple Negative and having Paclitaxel once a week for 12 weeks and Carboplation once a week every 3 weeks.  Also Filgrastim tummy injections 3 days on then 4 days off.  These encourage white blood cells to be produced to help fight infection.

i shall be having number 4 chemo this friday and also Carboplatin this week.

you are due to start a long journey as we all are… one day at a time.  Xx??

Hi Lora


I too am not a fainter but I’m a phobic, particularly about feeling trapped and mostly about vomiting, so chemotherapy was going to be a huge challenge for me after surgery and I really do feel for you. It was easily solved: I was completely frank with everyone and, from the oncologist to the breast care nurses, each one of them sought solutions to each problem. The doctor prescribed lorazepam immediately before chemo (to stop me doing a runner); the breast care nurse located a quiet space for my first few sessions so that, if I threw a wobbler, no one would witness it; the chemo nurses checked with me at each stage; the pharmacist gave me two kinds of anti-nausea drug to take home. I never touched one and never felt sick. When I went for a bone scan, the radiographer wouldn’t even inject the isotope (or whatever radioactive thing it was) till he’d shown me round and talked me through everything. The important thing was that they understood this wan’t normal anxiety which everyone has; it was lifelong and deep-rooted fears they had to get round to help me through a ghastly time.


Chemo affects everyone differently, as you’ll have seen reading these threads. It looks like you’re having 6 x EC treatments (they may throw in a few extras) with no Paclitaxel. For me, the actual treatment was fine because my every emotional need was being taken care of. But that’s only because I swallowed my pride and made my needs my first priority, thus making it their priority too. Most times, I never even felt the cannula being inserted (though a couple of my friends and my husband had to leave when it was being done!). If a vein wasn’t immediately evident, they would soak my hand in hot water for a while. I did feel a slight coldness in my arm as the first ‘flush’ of saline went through and, if you have similar prep to me (anti-emetic, antihistamine and steroid), there is a peculiar sensation that I can only compare to sitting buck naked in a bed of nettles when the steroid was injected. But it lasts only a minute or so. It’s a powerful tingling/sting-y feeling on the buttocks and all the genital area (don’t ask me why) that most patients experience. It makes you want to wriggle a bit. One nurse prided herself on avoiding that - she injected tiny amounts at a time and I felt nothing. However, they’re usually too busy for that. That’s it. I felt nothing with any of the actual chemo drugs which are done slowly over the hour or so of the actual treatment and wondered why I’d been so anxious - except I knew that I was lorazepamed and that’s why I felt so normal. Oh, you get ‘red’ pee with EC. Don’t forget or it will be a shock. It quickly turns to pink and back to normal in hours. 


A picc sounds like a possible solution for you (I hated the idea tbh) though you’ll have treatment every 3 weeks, not weekly. But behind it all are your emotions and you need to be frank. You won’t be the first patient they’ve treated with deep-seated fears that lead to fainting and they wont want you fainting as it will interfere with the IV! Ring the hospital, maybe your breast care nurse, lay out each fear and ask for reassurance about what can be done. I’m having a zolendrate IV next month and the Trust leaflets say you can be sick during or after the treatment. My current oncologist is insistent that no one is ever sick and won’t do anything. Who’s right? I won’t have the treatment till I’ve spoken to the oncology nurse about what’s available and I’m sure I’ve got the best possible prevention. I’m also having an MRI which horrifies me (it’s only a just-in-case check because I still have some side effects) but I’ll take some leftover Lorazepam. Fears can be huge obstacles but I’ve survived chemo, despite being the biggest wuss in the world (I have to be sedated for a filling!), and found radiotherapy a doddle. I did have a lot of side-effects which made life unpleasant but again, you tell someone immediately and they will help you as much as they can.


Sorry for the essay - I’ve lost my ability to read properly with chemo-brain but have verbal diarrhoea! I wish you all the best and hope you update us on your success with chemo.


Jan x