painful chemo experience anyone??


Firstly I don’t want to put anyone off who’s about to start chemo as my first two EC’s were painless but today… oh lord, i don’t know what happened. I cried the whole way through! It was hard to find a vein at first, it was painful even having a blood test, my arm had been aching adn feeling sore for a few weeks… when we finally got a cannula in, it was put into a narrow vein in my wrist and then the drugs were put in and… i just couldn’t stop crying. I’m not usually such a wimp honest, I think because my first two i had no pain, this came as quite a surprise. We had to keep stoppping and starting again, tehy said they were going to take the cannula out and try for another vein but we’d had such problems getting a vein in the first place i asked them to persevere. Anyone else had sch a horrible experience. Don’t know why i’ m so weepy, maybe to do with feeling sorry for myself on new years eve with a body full of toxic drugs, no hair, even crying is a nightmare as my eyelashes are coming out and keep getting in my eyes! Luckily i have amazing parents who just hugged me and let me cry it out. I’m now back home and tucked up in bed with lots of water. Just wanted to see if anyone else out there had had this and if so, did you ask for a line putting in? I asked about this but the nurse said there was much highter risk of infection and i should try to persevere but my veins are so hard to find, even blood tests are becoming painful and i never had this before. I promise I’m not usually so rubbish at taking pain.

Also, please don’t anyne reading this about to have chemo be freaked out, my first two doses were really painless so i guess it’s probably just my sensitive wee veins.

Any advice much appreciated and a very happy new year to you all, keep on keeping on!

Carrie xx

Hi Carrie

You poor love, a big cyber hug to you >>!, it sounds like you had a miserable time for your most recent treatment. It is hard to be objective about these problems and not be emotional so it is great that your parents can be there for you. I found myself very overwhelmed once I was diagnosed , there are so many things to think about especially if you were well before and now the treatment makes you poorly. I always feel very weepy during the first week after my chemo ( I am now on my 1st TAX having had 3 FEC previously) and having coped with the hair coming out of my head I am now watching my eyebrows and eyelashes disappear. It just doesn’t seem fair. I am writing off this xmas and new year and looking forward to finishing my chemo, that’s what keeps me going.

I wish you all the best and hope the good days outweigh the bad days.


Caroline x

hi carrie
hope u feel better soon. i got a picc line put in after my first chemo. it did make it easier to get chemo and to have bloods taken. everything was okay with my picc line until the sixth chemo then it went infected. had to spend a week in hospital on iv antibiotics to clear infection so now getting rest of chemo through my veins. i felt it was worth having the picc line even though this happened. hope this helps u to decide whats best for u. hope u have a better year next year.

lots of love

Hi Carrie,
I had my 1st FEC chemo last Friday and that was painful like you describe so I know exactly how you feel. Perhaps it will just be a one off? I’m hoping so for both of us and anyone else who’s experienced the same.

If you are thinking about having a line, remember you will have to have the dressing changed and line flushed every week to keep it working. But perhaps it will be best for you if you have several more cycles or limited veins to chose from.

Try to talk to the Nurses or your Onc.

Thinking of you, Ginge xxx.

Hi Carrie

Sorry you had a tough time of it. I had problems too. I didn’t have a line put in, I have had 4 FEC then the operation, then 4 Taxotaire and then rads. Someone once said to me if you have problems having a blood test, make sure that you are completley warm especially your extremities (I think they meant hands?) and drink plenty. This worked for me with blood tests, but not so well with chemo. I had a heat pad as well as the chemo was going in and I think that when then put it in slowly it hurt less. don’t know if thats just me.

hope your next treatment is not so horrible.
take care

Dear Carrie
really sorry to hear about this. I don’t know if this will help as I haven’t had chemo but I’m totally needle phobic and what makes needles bareable is local anasectic cream.
Brill stuff. Numbs the area so they can take as many pot shot as they like! Have a go at asking for it. You may feel like a prat but better that than pain I say! Also the warm arms thing also works it brings the veins to the surface. Good luck let us know how you get on
Take care

They use warmed wheat bags where I have chemo, first to warm the hand to bring the veins up, and then they put them across your arm while the chemo is going in. If the bag went cold, or while they were re-heating it, my arm would be extremely painful. Got to be worth a shot! Hope next time is better for you.


To Ginge, Sue, Jilly and Shannon
Thank you so much for replying to my post. It means s much and your advice is great. They used the heat bags but they didn’t really do much good but I am going to ask for the anti septic cream you mentioned jilly, do you know the name of it? Also, will see how I go next time and if it’s as painful - after warming up the veins - i’ll discuss other options with my oncologist. Arm is feeling ok today, I’m just dealing with the usual nausea now! If it’s not one thing…! Take care all of you Carrie x

Oops, totally overlooked thanking maria and caroline too, so lovely to feel the warmth of your support at a time when i was feeling particularly wretched and down about it all yesterday, thanks so much for being so lovely. Carrie x

Hi Carrie

I too have very small veins, and have already been told that I am going to have a Hickman’s line inserted for my chemo and bloods when I eventually start chemo,

maybe you could discuss this with the Dr

either way I hope things are better next time you have your treatment

Love from


the cream is a local anasetic cream EMLA cream not sure what it stands for but I’m guessing the last 2 letters are local anasetic??
I had it on for both ops to get the canulas in. Otherwise I was gonna do a runner!! I wasn’t scared of the op, only the needles! Sad eh??
Never used to be this bad but when for a blood test a few years ago but the nurse hit a nerve in my arm which made it go dead!!
Any way enough of me. Good luck mate.
Take care

Hi Carrie
I had the same problems as you, first 2 EC fine the third struggled to get a vein and felt painful even when saline was going through, when i was having the 4th i had got myself in quite a state and the onc popped in to see me and as i still had 4 taxotere to go and 18 herceptins he decided to refer me to a cardiologist for a groshong line putting in my chest. The procedure wasnt very pleasent at all but it has been worth it and it has been in since the 4th September i have finished chemo now and am going for 3rd herceptin next week and so far have had no problems. My OH cleans it and flushes the line weekly which is really straight forward and i have blood taken from it too as the vein in my arm is still solid. It is a slight inconvenience as it will be in until Nov 08 but been slightly afraid of needles i feel its worth it.
Hope you can get something sorted out, take care

Hi everyone for advice on this, really appreciated. Rachel, can I just ask, did he herceptin feel as painful going in as the chemo drugs? do you feel as rotten afterwards. The thought of a year of more injections into the veins is… just makes me sick thinking of it at the moment but i know it is something we have to go through. Thanks also for name of local anaesthetic cream Jilly, will ask for that at the hospital or can you get it at pharmacy on gp prescription? What a road ahead eh but i am sure we wll all come through and be stronger for it. Carrie xx

Hi Carrie
I am having Herceptin through my groshong line so you feel absolutly nothing at. Herceptin doesnt have the same side effects as chemo just feel slight flu symtoms and get a runny nose. Are you having taxotere after your EC chemo because that doesnt damage the veins as much as the Epirubicin but it does cause a lot of tiredness but not the sickness like the EC, but i guess each treatment effects us all differently. Rachel

you can get EMLA cream on prescription but it’s cheaper to get it from the pharmacy.
Good luck with it.
Take care

Herceptin doesn’t damage the veins like chemo but for me there is still the same problem of finding a vein. I am trying to get a portacath for the Herceptin as I had a PICC line for chemo, which caused a blood clot and then had a groshong line but had an infection while I had that in. Having said that, it is so much easier to have chemo and blood tests through a line, and I haven’t heard of anyone else being unlucky with both.

Good luck