what is chemo like for the first time

Hi everyone,
I have got to meet my chemo team on the 21st which i am ok with but i would like to know what will happen on my first chemo section if anybody can help me. I know everyone is different but if i just have alittle idea i will then know what to expect


Hi Lorraine,
I had my 1st chemo about 17 days ago, second one is this thurs. The first four days you take steroids to help stop any sickness, the side effect of these can be constipation… 3 days after 1st chemo I took a tin of prunes which did the trick!!! Other than that I have been quite fortunate, a bit tired at times but then you just have to listen to your body and REST. I am now starting to lose my hair big time but have a wig and scarves at the ready.

Sure you will be fine, talk to us all and read all the threads, we are all different and will be affected by different meds in different ways.

Try not to worry
take care
Chris x

Thanks Chris for the tips my family will make sure that i rest and all i can do is go with the flow, good luck for thurs.

Lorraine x

…and… a good nurse will make sure you are relaxed and may put your arm in warm water - …the veins are everything! if you are not happy with the person doing it ask quietly but firmly to see onc nurse or sister/charge nurse - it’s allowed!! i had no probs but someone can try lots for a vein and fail…it’s ok to ask for a second.

take the tabs you are given…drink lots of water, eat and rest. you will feel weary - when u are asleep the body does its healing so don’t worry if you sleep lots.

i am oooh… a month away from chemo now…take care rainy and chris! it’s yuk and doable.

jen xxx

Hi Lorraine
the first chemo is probably the scariest, but as the others said, it is doable. Try to eat a small lunch before you go, (if its an afternoon appt). I read a thread on this site entitled tips about getting through chemo, and took heed of some of this hints. I also brought some of those Sea Bands, from Boots, for anti sickness and have worn them after each chemo for a few days. No sickness for me, may be coincedence, may be not! Still, will continue to wear them till the end of chemo. Try to drink as much water or water based drinks as you can. I struggle for first few days after as no thirst, but make up for it for following days. fresh pineapple if your mouth suffers, and something on hand for constipation! ~We are all different. some glide through it all and some have a rough time, but take the medication, and rest, as you may well be tired. Feel sure you will be fine. Keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

good luck for thursday chris. hope all goes well.

best wishes to you all
deb x

Hi Lorraine
I meet my team tomorrow and start my chemo on Tueday,I’m a bit like you … don’t realy know what to expect but if possible I want to go back to work as soon as possible .Has anyone got any comments on this


Hi Lorraine,
You don’t say which chemo you will be having…but I had FEC 4 yrs ago…I had a pre-chemo appointment 2 days before when I was able to speak to a chemo nurse on a one to one and was able to discuss my worries ectc., and she explained everything chemo would do and what side effects to expect etc.,…I was weighed, had my height chkd and my bloods done.
I went back 2 days later, saw onc., then waited in waiting area for chemo to be made up and to be called to have it administered…the waiting area was like a social club…everyone spoke to one another…ladies who’d already started their chemo were trying to reassure me etc.,
I was given a Lorazepam tablet to help me relax prior to administration…but I was a nervous wreck about it all thats why.
After chemo I was given anti-sickness tablets and steroids to take for three days after…ALWAYS take the tablets even if you don’t feel sick…aptly travel sickness bands are quite good for some people too.
After first chemo I did suffer severe heartburn, but when I went for 2nd one I told onc., and was given a tablet to take every morning which solved the problem.
Fortunately I didn’t suffer any severe side effects…did have a sore mouth which again onc., gave me mouthwash for which solved problem…you should also be given a phone number for your chemo help-line which is available 24/7 incase you have any worries etc.,
First week you might feel abit groggy, second week…feel a bit better…third week…feel quite good…then start all over again.
Make sure you rest…be lead by your body…drink plenty of water [well I was told that anyway…up to 2 litres of water a day]

Hope all goes well


When I had my first chemo (EC + Zometa) I fully expected to collapse and have to be carried out of the chemo suite. Im not the collapsing type but had convinced myself that the chemicals would wreak havoc in my system and I would have a bad reaction.
Happily there was absolutely nothing to report. I got a bit hot during the process (anxiety) and it took a long time as the nurses took great care that everything was okay before going onto the next stage but otherwise i was fine enough to have a bite to eat during the treatment(they came round with soup sandwiches and yoghurts at lunchtime) and chatted to the nurses and my friend -who coincidentally started her chemo the same day.

I walked out of the hospital and crossed a busy road to wait for my daughter to pick me up afterwards - so you can see there was nothing debilitating immediately following the treatment.

The side effects again weren’t as bad as I feared.I wasn’t nauseous or sick at all (but I wasnt expecting to be -I have a stomach of iron) but took all of the tablets I was given. I did get the tiredness and ‘ill’ /wobbly feeling but that peaked and reduced in the 3 weeks until the next treatment.

And that was 1 down and 7 to go~( I was part of a trial so my chemo regime wasnt the norm)

Im nearing my 4 year anniversary and to be honest I really have to stretch my memory now to get the fine details.

Take every offer of help going -and ask for help if its not.I found out halfway through that my family had been on high alert for ferrying /shopping detail and I hadnt asked them to help out. I remedied that and wont make the same mistake again.

Good luck - but you wont need it

I had mine on a Weds and Fri to Mon where scary.Listen to your body and rest plenty,let the dust build up and let others look after you.

Stay Strong


Hello Rainy

As others have said we all react differently but here are my tips. I had FEC first, which made me feel very nauseous although I never actually vomited. I made sure to take all the medications they gave me and I took them exactly at the times they said.
Before I went to the hospital for my FEC I would put some extra pillows on my bed so that I could sleep more or less upright if I was feeling sick. I also took some lactulose and senna to prevent the constipation which the anti nausea meds cause. I would have some breakfast - usually an egg to settle my stomach.

When I came home I didn’t try to eat but had a warm bath and then went to bed with a jug of water and a bottle of Lucozade.
I was usually OK to eat normally the day after but felt I needed loads of rest and so took it very easy for a few days - usually I felt very tired the first week, a little better the second and more or less normal the third week.
Good luck.
Anthi x

hiya, I was sick a bit but not as bad as expected, ive usually had 3/5 days off work then back in but part time, off for number 4 on wednesday and have noticed really tired so think I need to rest more but it is doable, even on weepy days.
Good luck

Hi there
I finished my chemo in Feb and while I can say I overall felt ok its does affect people in different ways. Tax was a bit harder for me but still manageable but I did have a few low points after I stopped the steroids.

The unknown is scary and I felt like I was walking to the gallows going for the first chemo but came out feeling fine , a bit drugged up but ok !

I drank 3 litres a day on the advice of the chemo nurse and basically took the anti sickness meds whether I felt like i needed them or not. I felt desperately tired a couple of days after the first but it did get better. Have to say each one was a bit different for me but I can still say it was better than I expected .

good luck
cally x

Hi Jac - I waited to have the first FEC before i went back to work - just to make sure - i was like Mary having chemo on a Wednesday and felt rough form thurs to saturday and better on monday - so i went back to work part time - i did about 28-30 hours a week rather than my full time 35…i go into the office 2x a week and work at home the rest of the time (I have a apper based job so no prob) - my onc said the important thinsg was to live life as normally as poss while on chemo and for me work is normal!!

On chemo weeks i didn’t even try to work on thursdays and fridays. I was on the tact 2 trial so after 4 FEC i went on to 4 lots of xeloda tabs… by the end of it all i was v tired - chemo is cumulative but didn’t take any time off - just slept a lot!!! With chemo a month behind me i now realise how foggy my brain was…it still is sometimes!!

I’m on rads now and they make you tired too…oh and tamoxifen…and oh… that also makes you tired… lol in 5 years time i wil be finished and then prob find i am still tired by vitue of middle age!!!

Drink loads of water if you can as it helps flush the toxins out…

all the best J xx

Hi, Rainy

Sorry to hear you’re to start chemo. Well, the sooner it starts the sooner it’ll be over with, eh.

Understandably, you’ll be very nervous. If it helps, have someone with you. The nurses are wonderful. I can’t remember being told to drink plenty of fluids but I suppose I must have because everyone on here says to drink plenty of water. I was told to eat a little bit of something every couple of hours, which helps stave off the nausea. Cucumber slices with salmon paste is nice :slight_smile: Oh, and something else I really enjoyed but can’t eat now because it reminds me of chemo. Slices of milk loaf spread with cream cheese and slices of kiwi fruit.

I was on epirubicin and was told that the first few wees I had would be red - and they were. I think I was in a state of shock because I didn’t talk for a couple of hours. Not because of the red wees but the fact I’d survived my first chemo!!

Hubby came with me and, on the way home, he asked if I wanted to go to the new Homebase which had just opened near us. Err, I don’t think so. I went to straight to bed because I didn’t know what else to do.

But, as others have said, it’s all doable and we’ve all lived to tell the tale.

Good luck.
Maureen xx

I finished my chemo last November…I had 4xFEC and 4xTaxotere. I can remember feeling pretty scared of the unknown too!

I wasn’t nauseous or sick on Fec, my main discomfort was heartburn and constipation, the Gaviscon and senna tablets were never far away. My onc eventually prescribed tablets for the heartburn which helped far more than the Gaviscon did, so do ask if you suffer with this.

If you are having FEC, the chemo-nurse will sit with you to administer the drugs via syringe. This is because the drugs have to go in slowly and at a steady pace. You may get a tingle or two in your nether regions - something I have heard referred to as “nettle knickers”, lol!!! Actually it’s quite nice… ***blushes*** !

As others have said you may feel tired, so plenty of rest is important. The first week is the worst for side effects, but the following two are not so bad, and on the third week I always arranged to meet up with friends for lunch and a laugh.

The day before chemo I had to go to the hospital to have my blood tested to make sure my immune system had recovered sufficiently to have the next lot. I was also weighed (the dosage depends on your weight) and saw my oncologist.

Take a bottle of water with you into the chemo unit to drink whilst it’s being administered, this helps to flush the drugs through.

I also found my mouth was dry and my tongue had a white coating for a few days…and my taste changed. Everything tasted peculiar even water tasted as if I’d lapped it up from a puddle! I found orange or lemon/lime ice lollies helped.

The worst thing is losing your hair, 10-14 days after the first dose. It’s hard to prepare for this, but having a selection of pretty scarves, hats and a nice wig helps a little.

As I said, I finished chemo in November, and it took me a couple of months at least to feel reasonably “normal”, but this was due to the Taxotere rather than the FEC.

I am now on Herceptin (1 year) and Arimidex (5 years), feel fine, and have a full head of very CURLY hair! It was always straight before, lol!

Good luck to you, I’m sure you’ll get through it OK!


HI Rainy

The chemo session is really not too bad. The chemo suite I was in was a bit like a wiating room - lots of comfy chairs, some magasines, a coffee/tea machine, radio on, lots of very kind and cheerful nurses dashing about… quite a pleasant atmosphere really and not a bit scary.

I think the normal procedure is to insert a canula in the back of your hand - this is only painful for a moment, like having an injection. You will then be either connected up to a drip, or the drugs will be injected directly into the canula. You can eat or drink while drugs are being administered (they used to bring round sandwiches at lunch time) and can go the the toilet or walk about if on the drip, wheeling the stand with you.

I felt absolutely no side effects at all during the treatment, and walked home afterwards (about 15 mins) - a bit tired, but that was just nerves.

It wasn’t till later on that evening that I felt a bit nauseous. but wasn’t sick. After two days of feeling very sick they changed my anti-sick meds to something stronger, which worked and I didn’t have any problems after that.

Altogether not too bad, and much better than I had imagined it would be.


I think it’s a bit like giving birth - we all have different experiences and it also depends on what chemo you’ll be having - some can knock you for six while others allow you to continue working etc.

I’m currently on Xeloda and have tolerated it extremely well which is completely different from the first and second types of chemo that I’ve had (couldn’t work for 10 months with the first one as it completely floored me).

Plus all our bodies react differently so you can have someone else on the same chemo as you but from a physiological point of view you may well have different reactions to another person.

Good luck.

My first was FEC and I was warned that each drug could have an effect immediately or soon after.Epirubicin<e> gives you bright red wee very quickly.F can make your nose feel odd and tingly and C can make you feel lightheaded for a minute or so.None of these was bad at all.I was sick only once each time,during night after session,then fine but tired.Odd appetites caused by steroids I think.On FEC I was a bit groggy for a week,recovering for a week and really well for a week.The effects were cumulative but doable.For me taxotere was a different story…I did find that sucking fruit ice lollies during chemo prevented sore mouth[sort of cold cap for mouth someone on here said].I took them in a wide necked flask.All the best Valxx</e>

Hi I have been very luccky had 4 epirupicin and only side effect was tiredness. I was able to judge fairly quickly when I got up in the morning if I would have a shop till you drop day or a sofa and good book day. I am receiving CMF now and the only problem I have is constipation or the other extreme ring sting ahh the pain, never mind we are all strong and will come through this, found the recipe for go cake on this site, still to make going out to buy a loaf tin. Good luck x