Just been told starting neo-adjuvant chemo next week


I’ve just been told today that the lymph node biopsy was positive and so the cancer has spread, then told I was seeing the oncologist later, and now told I’m starting chemo (6 x TAC) next week. The diagnosis has been so slow to come, that I can hardly believe I have a week to prepare myself for chemo! I’ll be having MX after.

What do I need to buy / wear / do? I don’t have time to read all the threads with so little time to prepare!

Has anyone found any complementary therapies or supplements useful in dealing with the side effects?

I am worried because I also suffer a bit from ME which I had when I was younger, but still leaves me tired sometimes, plus I am allergic to everything! The poor docs will think I’m crazy! Goodness knows how I am going to react to all the drugs.

Any advice gratefully received.

Hi there,
Sorry you find yourself propelled into this world but you will get through it. There are lots of helpful friendship threads you could ‘join’ such as the ‘starting chemo in October’ one, though a lot of the women on that are on FEC or FEC-T which is a bit different. I did FEC-T this time last year as neoadjuvant chemo and was one of the lucky ones with relatively minor side effects.

Here, for what they’re worth are a few thoughts…

What to wear - be comfortable, something that is easy to free up your arms (assuming you are using a canula) or line/port if that’s the case. Teeshirts are easy if you have a cannula, but you might want a cardi/fleece/pasmina to put round your shoulders as the drugs and/or room can leave you cold sometimes.

What to take in - bottled water, ideally with a sport top as it’s easier to do one handed - if you keep sipping it helps. Also magazines, puzzles, mp3 player etc as there can be loads of hanging around.

What to buy in - my BCN gave me a mega shopping list, some I used, some I didn’t but here goes…

a soft toothbrush (childs is good) and biotene toothpaste (tastes foul but is kind to sore/dry mouth)
alcohol free mouthwash
a baby brush/comb - kind to scalp
immodium/diocalm - in case of trots
sennacot - in case of chemo clog
unscented moisturiser/body lotion and use it head to foot daily (chemo dries your skin)
gaviscon - heartburn/indigestion can be a problem
Simple soap/shower gel/shampoo (ph neutral)
pocket size anti-bac hand gel - take it everyhwere, use it often
Thermometer (digital ear one is great, but flippin’ expensive)
Notebook & pen - to write down your symtpom diary day by day

Some treats for good days - nibbles, drinks you like etc.

I was told to avoid all citrus and acidic drinks, but some people swear by pineapple juice. Ginger and or peppermint can be good for sore tums. I found sucking boiled sweets helped when my mouth was rough and I drank GALLONS of water (in small sips).

I think you have to be careful with aromatherapy and I’m fairly sure lavender is a no no.

I will have missed something, and someone will have been told something a bit different, but hopefully these will give you a start

You haven’t mentioned whether you are using a cold cap, but if not then it’s worth starting to look for scarves/hats etc sooner rtaher than later. Like a lot of folk on here I used annabandana (just google it) which is very inexpensive and offers a wide range. Not the poshest, but I was happy with them.

Right now you are no doubt in a whirl, but it will pass, once you get going you will find ways of dealing with it, and in a few months it’ll be behind you.

Take care, and come back anytime with more questions


(editted for bad typos!)

Hi keepthefaith

The following link will take you to a thread on the forums called ‘Top tips’, I am sure you will find it very useful:


Take care

where i am we get a book to keep a list of chemo dates, doses, weight and symptoms.

they also give us any meds we might require or can get them free on prescription from GP… most are available on prescription and can save you as you will get free prescriptions.

as Cat says things for for the runs or being bunged up like dioctyl, senna and/or movicol
for reflux and indigestion you can get prescribed omeprazole
you can be prescribed biotene oral balance mouth gel
aqueous cream for dry skin
however you may not get these symptoms so you might want to wait and see how you are.

my unit gave most meds i was likely to meet
anti sickness meds and steroids
difflam mouth wash for ulcers
hypromellose for dry, gritty watery eyes…

i did have a thermometer as you have to take your temp regularly.

i also had a tub of manuka honey its quite expensive but a bit boggin to take but apparently helps reduce infection.

when your hair starts to come out… its usually leaves your lady garden first.
it can give you a sore head it felt like somebody sticking forks in my head but for some its just a minor discomfort. i worse buffs at night after my hair fell out as they were soft and kept my head cosy.

we get a prescription for a free wig every 6 months we are on treatment… but think this is just a scottish thing… i never wore my wig much last time as it was summer and kept getting flushes.

a fan might be a good investment as chemo does give menopausal symptoms.

i found i couldnt concentrate to read books but was ok with magazines and sudoku… although during chemo i found it took me ages even to do easy ones as the concentration just goes.

my sis was my chemo buddy… she took me to each one has already arranged with her work to be off for the next lot too… she picks me up and comes with me and holds my hand and runs around after me generally which is fab.

im also a big fan of ginger snaps for nausea.

i found food tasted really funny and pretty much lived on sugar coated fruit jellies and pepsi max… found the sugar and bubbles took that filmy gross layer off my tongue and gums.

good luck xxxx

All of the above, but wanted to stress the water drinking. I drank loads the day before Chemo as well as during and after. It helps plump your veins before, it helps reduce constipation and counteract the runs, it also flushes out the dead cells and toxins after. I found loads of ice with fiizzy or tonic water was the best for me as it cut through the bleurgh. I don’t know whether it was psychological or not but the more I drank the less side effects I seemed to have.

Good luck.


hello keepthefaith it must be so worrying for you at this time, ive just had a mastectomy and am about to start my chemo next week and i to am terrified and dont know what to expect or how ill cope , but on the other hand what bloody choice do we have , i only wish we could run away but thata not an option is it unfortunatly , ime here at any time if you want to moan , chat , or anything , jsckie x