Help needed - I have become chemo phobic

I apologise if I am meant to post this somewhere else, I haven’t joined any of the threads as I have mainly used the site for support.

I am 3 FEC down with 3 to go. My side effects have been nausea, vomiting, aching, sweats etc and low bloods plus probably 100 other smaller ailments but I have coped with that, my problem is I am becoming more and more terrified of the needles, the procedure, just the thought of a small blood sample can now bring me to tears and I am worrying constantly already about my next chemo.

I think a lot of this stems from no. 2 when I got phlebitis, which was annoying, but that has now suddenly flared up and is incredibly painful and I struggle to use my good arm, my gp told me that the vein could close down, that they may struggle to get a vein. Roll on the next blood test and they couldn’t get any blood, fiddled about with the vein then had to start again. I read this and know it sounds silly because chemo 3 went well, they used the back of the arm, got a different vein and all went well. But I am terrified.

What can I do to not worry so much from now to chemo? How can I get rid of this aversion? My onc has given me some sedatives for the day of chemo, and offered me a line, but the thought of that is just as terrifying.

Any ideas or coping strategies gratefully received,
P.s. I have two lots of cream and antibiotics for the phlebitis and there will be instructions to use a vein higher up!

you sound just like i did! i was ready to give up after number 1! Then after i had chemo number 3 i told the nurse that i had been ironing because i couldnt sleep until 3 a.m of the morning that i was having chemo, i was given some sedatives to take a couple of nights before chemo. They didnt make me sleep but made me a little calmer.
What i found helped a little was going out for coffee and cake (a treat) two days before chemo, so that i had something to look forward to of that week.
I also wrote on my calendar chemo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 on the days in which i was due and it felt so good to tick them all off! when i got to chemo 3, it was like, half way! yippee! then chemo 4 was 2/3rds of the way through, number 5 was penultimate.
I also have trouble with my veins (even before i started chemo).
Have you thought about having a port fitted?
Thinking of you xx

Hi Small1,

have you thought about a picc line, think they put you to sleep for the procedure but then you wont have to have a canular for the rest of treatment, it maybe worth while?? are you having herceptin too?

(((HUGS))) xxxxx

I know lines have a very high cringe factor, but that might really be the best solution for you, as it was for me. It’s generally a once and done procedure; they should then take blood through it as well as administering chemo. I hated the thought of a line, but in the long run was glad I accepted it. They usually give a big local for a PICC line, but would probably sedate you to reduce your distress. I think Hickmans involve sedation in any case. Someone will correct this if I’m wrong.

Half way is difficult for a lot of us, knowing that you’ve got to go through just as much as you’ve already been through with a body that is much less resilient than at the beginning. Needing more help at this point is not failure. Worrying and fearing the sessions is not weakness, it’s just part of the general bu99eration of BC.

Best wishes,


Hi, I think we all go through the feeling that we can’t cope with it all anymore, and it seems to strike particularly after #3. I felt so much happier when #4 was over, light , tunnel, end of! I had terrible veins and the onc/chemo unit decided to do my blood test on the morning of the chemo, so only one needle. It did mean I was there a bit longer, but it was so worth it, and I avoided a picc line or portocath! All the best, love Mo xx

Hi Ali

I would concur with the other ladies and say yes, number 3 seems to be the worse - not sure why.

In terms of coping strategies, there are several things you might find helpful, which I have - I haven’t been getting needle-phobic or anything but have had anxiety which has resulted in quite bad insomnia. You could try some (or all) of the following:

  • Rescue Remedy - very good for stressful situations, to help you keep calm

  • Relaxation CDs / apps for ipad/iphone/ipod touch - I have got a “Healing Hypnosis” app which I listen to every afternoon - it has been a huge help. There is another one which is just a relaxation one I listen to at night which usually helps me drop off. I have listened to them during chemo too.

  • Some sort of complementary therapy to help support you through this - I have found a reflexologist who has come to my house a couple of times - this has really helped. Maybe that or shiatsu, yoga, homeopathy etc?

Good luck Ali.

Teresa x

Hope that is some help - PM me if you want details on the CDs, apps etc.

Hello Ali

Your thread stirred me because it reminded me how desperate I became half way through my 8 chemos. What got me through was going to a wonderful reflexologist made possible by Macmillans. THe lady was really calming and I felt very soothed and looked after. I enjoyed having my feet gently treated, it felt really relaxing and not invasive. I used to cry a lot during the treatments because I realised how stressed and pained my body was, whereas the reflexology made all those feelings just melt away.

Finding a nice alternative therapy that suits you could be what you need just to make you feel a bit pampered at a really tough time. Whether or not it helps with the anxiety of needles etc is hard to say, but I did find that as I felt a bit calmer I was more able to cope with the panic I experienced when I thought about the next treatments and needles.

Like you, it really got bad half way through. But it will end and you will feel better again and now, eighteen months on from my treatment, I know I am a stronger person at some level for having gone through this awful treatment.

Good luck and don’t despair. Let us know how you get on.

Green fingers

I sympathise with this post! its been 2 yrs now but i clearly remember totally freaking out at chemo 4 when they couldnt get a vein or cannulate me. i was removed from the chemo lounge like a raving mad women, crying,nose dripping clutching my sore swollen arm swaying and husband didnt knwo where to look@! i was eventually coaxed back in and a lovely nurse did everything so smoothly that i had her for the next session too. I felt almost hysterical about being cannulated but for some reason, a change in nurse made it more bearable. i think i needed to get the ‘freak out’ out of my system and trying to be brave all the time was actually really negative.

I cant offer much advice apart from you are not alone and we are/were all coping beautifully and panic and tears is all part of it so dont be hard on yourself.


I couldn’t have got into my chemo suite without having taken the lorazepan tablets my oncologist prescribed. They totally took the edge off my terror and got me in the building, even after I had an allergic reaction to taxotere on chemo three and spent the intervening three weeks dreading chemo four as I was convinced I would die. I found fec really did play mind tricks with me too, much more than taxotere did. I couldn’t eat or drink anything red and the thought of the chemo made me feel sick and clammy. I had to go out and buy new clothes with very long sleeves which covered my hands as just a glimpse of my bruised hand from the cannula made me retch and feel really sick for hours. the worst cycles though, when I felt most despair , were 3 and 4 and loads of women say the same. I mind-tricked myself that the sixth cycle wasn’t a real cycle like the rest, as every day was a day to getting properly better, not just waiting to be well enough to be poisoned again. On that basis, when you’ve done 3 cycles then you are actually more than half way there, four cycles is probably about 75% of the way there and after 5 cycles you’re really pretty much done, given that we already know cycle 6 doesn’t really count…

Good luck, take the tablets and try the line. I guess what I am trying to say is that chemo messes with your mind as well as your body so don’t beat yourself up even more by feeling guilty about feeling like this.


Just a quick addition to agree absolutely about holistic and alternative therapies - I had acupuncture throughout my 6 cycles of Tax, which really helped with the se’s and also I am sure helped with my white cell count, which had been dire when I had FEC previously. The therapist used a non-needle version where she held a heated stick over the points when my blood count was low to avoid infection. All I can say is, it really did help. Mo xx

Hi Ali

So sorry you are struggling but totally understand it. I also had a bit of a meltdown when i got to no 3, everyone kept saying your halfway yay but to me i felt like im ONLY halfway. My veins are completely shot from having two chemos through it and they struggled to get blood from me. I did have a picc line for first chemo but it got infected and i didnt get on with it very well and it was removed but i now have a hickman line which i love, i was scared about having it but knew it would save a lot of needles. I was part sedated and didnt feel a thing apart from the initial canula for sedation. I hardly know its there now. This may be the best option for you. Im now facing chemo no 5 on friday and starting to see the light…hang in there hun x


I agree about the third beingtheworst. I was dreading no 4, not because I have problems on the day,but I HATE the week following it, feeling slightly sick,tired and sorry for myself. And i hate most of all, the way I smell for a week. Chemo has a smell that seems to come out of every pore and in your wee that I absolutely hate. But 4 is now over and I too have that. 'light at the end of the tunnel ’ feeling. But after no 3 I really wanted to not go back again.

But I think I would have has a much worse time if I hadn’t have had a portocath fitted before it started they’re wonderful, no pain, no collapsing veins… I have terrible veins so they agreed to fit one. Yu may haver fight for it at your hospital but its well worth it. I really recommend that you try having some sort of line fitted.



Thank you all for your comments, I look at the threads and they seem so chatty and cheerful, the people seem so strong and I am sat crying and screaming in my head that I have had enough thanks and I would like to get off this horrendous roller coaster. I am fed up of feeling tired, bored of being in my house so much etc…

So thanks, I will give my bcn yet another call to see whether there is anything available for free but also look at reflexology and the relaxation music.

They have offered a Hickman line, where I would be under a general to have it fitted, but I have scared myself by looking on the Internet when maybe ignorance would have been better.


Hi Ali,

I have just had a PICC line put in after managing to cope with chemo and 2/3 way through 18 Herceptins before veins collapsed. i was a bit anxious about the procedure but it was a lot less painful than canulation. If the local is administered slowly, you don’t feel it and then you just feel a bit of pushing and shoving while they put the line in. No pain honestly. My Herceptin last Friday was a breeze and I now wish I’d had the PICC line done earlier so that I’d still have some veins left.
You can also order waterproof sleeves from Dry Pro through Amazon which stop it getting wet in the bath.

take care.


Im as queazy as they come, but they put in a port (Im in the US) after chemo 1 as a matter of course and because my veins are just about invisible. It was done under “twilight anaesthesia” (light sedation). After that the administering of the chemo was easy. I recommend it.If you can get it done, just let them get on with it.It makes it so much easier. Good luck with the rest of them. Youre halfway there, and, given that youre suffering, you`re doing really well!
I dream of the day they find an alternative to chemotherapy!

Sorry to read you feel in such a state (((hugs))). They fitted a PICC line two days before my chemo even started without looking at my (good) veins. I’m glad they did, it’s brilliant. I don’t notice it at all and makes getting chemo so much easier. Often we feel more anxious about getting something done (esp after reading things up in the internet, I’ve been there too!) than the actual procedure is. It often sounds scarier than it is. I wish I could somewhat encourage you xx.

We’re all here for each other, sharing and getting tips helps so much I find.

Love and hugs from Christine xx

I had a hickman line fitted from the word go, as even though my veins are good, i told them under no circumstances were they cannulating me for 12 months of treatment!
The line fitting was uncomfortable but not painful, as there seemed to be a lot of poking and prodding more than anything, and after 24 hours of feeling a bit bruised, it all settled down.
Regarding chemo, I had 3 fec and then 3 tax, It was after my 3rd fec that i also broke down mentally, i was convinced i was dying, i told my husband ive lost my nerve with it all and could no longer cope, and if i had to have more fec i think id have screamed. But as i then changed to taxotere, this seemed to suit me better and things improved.
Im now almost at the end of herceptin and then my line will come out, i think i’ll miss it in a strange way !!!