Janes 'Sensible Tips' for Getting Through Chemo

Hi Ladies

I make no apologies about the length of this, but thought i’d give you my experience. I’m 1/2 way through 6 x AC chemo + zolendronic acid. I see Chemo as a necessary poison,I’m not afraid of it and not letting it rule my life. TO BE FORARMED IS TO BE FOREWARNED. ORGANISATION is the key to get throught this…
I have read many other comments and am saddened and dispaired at how poorly others are coping. I do realise we are all different, But i’m sorry, some information offered is not really that helpful. The key to dealing with chemo is information and understanding as to what is happening within body. You are not fighting a virus or infection. This is different and has to be treated different.

SICKNESS
LADIES, YOU REALLY DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER WITH SICKNESS…talk to your DN or GP or Chemo Unit… The NCCC at Newcastles Freeman Hospital is fantastic…just a little plug there.

Ondansetron, and dexomethasone is usually given by your chemo unit for 2 days. If this is not enough, ask for longer… it really does make a huge difference to how you feel. I have for 4 days as 2 days is not enough.

BOWELS
Ensure you take a stool softener e.g Dulcosate at least 3 days before chemo. GET THOSE BOWELS CLEARED PRONTO…use Movicol or similar if necessary…this can be one of the main causes of nausea after chemo…Constipation and gastric reflux is usually caused by the chemo and some medications e.g. codeine or opiates and can make life a nighmare. Chemo makes our bowels very sluggish so treat accordingly. THIS IS A NUMBER ONE PRIORITY…

BLADDER
Drink plenty of fluids particularly during the 48 hrs after chemo. At least 3-4 pints per day. Bladder sensation also changes…you quite often don’t know when you need to pee, so aim to go every 2 hrs. Sometimes if you feel sickly, emptying the bladder often does the trick, as your urine is full of toxins making you feel vile. DARK URINE? IT SHOULD BE PALE SO DRINK PLENTY. Anything you like. Avoid alcohol for the first few days though.

FOOD
Before your 1st chemo, ensure you are well stocked up on small (child portion) size meals in the freezer. Mince/cottage pie/ home made broths and soups are all good…anything that is tasty. The worst is having to think about what to eat. Get friends to make things if you can…Forget bland goo…if you have ulcers, puree food… don’t just eat mashed potato…the thought will just make you feel yuk. Taste changes dramatically so stronger tasting (salty) foods are usually a better option. Marmite on toast if you like it can stimulate your appetite. Tip… scrape the slimy film off your tongue before you eat.
Pineapple is good for refreshing your mouth
V8 vegetable juice - good source of minerals and tasty too or plain tomato juice.
Fruit drinks from the chiller cabinet (but not squash as too sugary and slimy) (not orange or other citrus, bad for stomach acid) with a dash of soda water can be very refreshing.
Avoid eating sweeties as can leave a slimy taste/tongue.

SMELLS
Before your chemo CLEAN THE OVEN AND GRILL PAN…and put away anything that smells strongly of perfume. Your sense of smell changes dramatically so avoid if you can. Your body is excreting toxins which you might also be able to smell, sort of like melted plastic/metal/ sickly sweet. If possible, sit in a light airy room or conservatory where you can open a window…keep warm… Fresh air is good.

HAIR
just cut it…Don’t bother paying a hairdresser…i’t’s coming out anyway. Go short and funky straight away, do as I did, get your friends to give you a hair cutting session… they were mortified as my hair was well past my shoulders. It looked really great and I felt in control. They thought I was bonkers, but by day 10 it was all gone anyway. I let my grandaughter finish it off with the clippers…she thought it fun. Get a nice wig courtesy of the NHS. mine is great!

FITNESS
If you can manage it, do it. I was a keen hill walker/horserider. Don’t sit or lay about unless you are in pain or are unable to due to fatigue or other. A short walk in the sunshine is good and lifts the spirits. However, don’t overdo it. Take a rest or nap when needed. If you were fit before chemo, your body seems better able to cope…you seem to bounce back quicker, particularly with some good food. Plenty protein/carbs/fruit and veg.

FRIENDS
Are absolutely necessary. You will soon discover who your real friends are. Accept all offers of help, no matter how small. Your friends will feel useful as your cancer and treatment may be difficult for them to deal with. Trips out / cooking for the freezer / hospital visits are all good. Email text are good if you can’t be bothered to talk…as sometimes you don’t quite know what to say.

HOBBIES
I’ve taken up knitting again…(lol) and started to bake. Amazing!

Try my recipe for helping your bowels (lol)it’s measured in T-cups to make it easy

BRAN FRUIT LOAF
1 small cup of dried mixed fruit (anything you like)
1 small cup of sugar
1 small cup wheat bran or bran and pinhead oatmeal mixed
1 grated apple
1 small cup of SR flour
1 cup milk and TBsp cooking oil
pinch salt
1 llb loaf tin lined and Oven set to 180 degrees for about 1 hr.
Method: Mix all ingredients except SR flour. Leave for around 1/2 hr to swell
Add flour, mix well and pour into tin. Cook for around 1 hr. test with a skewer…should come out dry. keep in airtight tin.

My best wishes to all you out there
Jane xx

Jane- I’m well impressed by your list.

I am 2 years post chemo but can empathise with much of what you say- particularly re pre-empting bad side effects. I do not think it is necessary to suffer sickness - as so many people seem to do- there are drugs which will prevent this and you need to sing out to get them.
Also re bowel probs- and not drinking anough, small meals etc etc .

A very helpful post

Jane
This looks amazing, I start my 1st treatment tomorrow…thankyou :slight_smile:

Complements to Jane - that looks like a very helpful list to me having endured many years of chemo. There is one point I would take issue with thought:

After the comments on BOWELS you say “THIS IS A NO.1 PRIORITY”. I would probably have downgraded this one to a NO.2 PRIORITY… LOL.

Dawn
xx

So with you on the knitting Jane…it’s helped me enormously.
There are so many easy projects available to download on the net when my chemo brain is too tired for a complicated lace repeat.
Happy Knitting…x

To SarahD. Hope it all goes well for you today…thinking of you.
Jane