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Preparation for Chemo


Re: Preparation for Chemo

Fantastic list just what iv been looking for Thankyou so much to all contributors xx

Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi Angie, I am one of the September starters - you will find lots of tips and advice about hair loss and how to deal with it and the pros and cons of cold capping on the September 2016 Starters Monthly Thread from those of us who have recently been through it or are currently going through it. From my own experience I would advise you to be prepared, just incase you lose your hair, which may happen sooner than you think during your first cycle if you are on FEC, whether or not you cold cap. I did not cold cap and mine started falling out on Day 12 of my first cycle. For example, you can start looking at wigs and other headwear online now, and if time allows, make an appointment with a hairdresser who is trained to fit and trim wigs, so you will be able to order what you need quickly if the worst happens. The other thing I would mention is that nausea is a very common side effect of FEC and although they will give you anti-sickness medication, what they give you may not be effective. If the nausea is unbearable or hasn't gone away by Day 4, don't suffer in silence, contact your nurse and ask for advice/ something more effective. Hope your first cycle goes well and your side effects are not as bad as that. Dawn XX

Sue H-S
Community Champion

Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi Angie,

It is great to see that your questions have already been answered.

I think the only thing, that may be worth adding is that the tiredness tends to last for about a week, however may develop into fatigue, the more chemo sessions you have. It is a cumulative side effect of chemo. As I do not know what your regime is, it is difficult to advise on any specific questions - the advice re your BC nurse is perfect. Just go with the flow - and ask the questions you feel you want to ask. Such as, are they are going to install a PICC line for the chemo, discussion around lymphoedema risks and what to do,or not....., whether you may be able to get immune system supporting G-csf injections.

Hoping to see you on the October thread for chemo starters - https://forum.breastcancercare.org.uk/t5/Chemotherapy-monthly-threads/October-2016-starters/m-p/1052... - it is turning out to be a lively and very supportive thread.


Sue xx

Sue H-S
Community Champion

Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi suebond88

great that you found the info on this thread helpful. Please keepin mind that you are unlikely to have to deal with all of the side effects.

The most common appear to be nausea and the mouth and taste changes. As it is you are now well prepared!

Hope to see you on the October starters thread - https://forum.breastcancercare.org.uk/t5/Chemotherapy-monthly-threads/October-2016-starters/m-p/1052...


Sue xxx

Sue C
Community Champion

Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi Angie

Before I had my first chemo, the bc nurse went through everything, so don't worry if you haven't thought of it all. 

Try to get a list of things you will need beforehand, such as, a thermometer, nail varnish, painkillers etc. Even though you are cold capping, think about scarves or wigs as it's not always successful.

Hair loss tends to happen between weeks 2 and 3.

You will feel tired during the first week but it passes and then hopefully you will be able to carry on as usual.

Sending a hug xx


Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi Everyone

im due to have my first chemo this Friday.  I'm having my 2nd meeting with the oncologist tommorrow as my surgery results were worse than anticipated.

ive written a list of a few things I need to ask.  Does anyone have any other questions it's important to ask?  when you're new to this it's hard to know...

im going to try to cold cap even though it does seem only to have limited success.

im keen to find out at which point the hair loss is likely to be the greatest ?

many thanks




Re: Preparation for Chemo

Am due to start chemo in the next few weeks.  So thank you for all the useful info and advise.  Am preparing a list of questions for my oncologist and will begin putting together a Chemo Bag - what a great idea.

Sue H-S
Community Champion

Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi all,

Newcomers reading this thread - scroll for the first post to find the list of relevant info.

Also - you are now entitled to free prescriptions - request a relevant form to be handed to you by your breast care nurse or chemo nurse. They should be able to give it to you, as it needs to be signed.

Should you have to attend A&E - please advise the receptionist that you are immono compromised, due to chemo, once you have started - they should let you wait away from the general public to ensure you do not pick up an infection.


Sue xxx




Re: Preparation for Chemo

Just what I needed. Thank you x


Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi all,


Really helpful post here: http://liz.oriordan.co.uk/CopeWithCancer.html on chemo preparation based on Liz O'Riodan's (breast cancer surgeon) personal experience.


Hope this helps,

B x


Re: Preparation for Chemo

Am sure there will be varied opinions on this matter, but Belle you've made me feel a lot easier. I'm not exactly eating honks of cheese every day, but it is a relief to at least feel that without a major study this may be down to personal preference and balance. I could live in a bubble and there would still be stuff potentially that has already or will contribute to health risks. I already have cancer. I don't eat tons of red meat (don't eat a lot of meat already). I could maybe cut some of the wheat stuff down, but I think I eat a reasonably balance diet.


i suspect a lot of my sudden anxiety was more around the mood swings of going through cancer treatment than anything else. I respect everyone's opinions. I think I just need to feel a little more okay about my own, and whether I change them 




Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi LisaMary

I'd love a definitive answer on this too but sadly unless someone funds a massive trial, I doubt we're going to get one 😞 The good news is that unlike the States, in the UK we don't add any growth hormones to the milk so it's only the naturally occurring ones that are present which is obviously better.

My thoughts are similar to yours. I eat very little diary: I don't have milk in anything except sauces for cooking, have cut out yogurt but do still eat cheese. Currently while doing chemo I'm not overly bothered as I feel it's more appropriate to eat what I fancy. But once finished I might look more at cutting back on dairy.

Would be interested to hear from others on this subject.

B x

Re: Preparation for Chemo

I've had a number of people screaming at me to cut out all dairy products on grounds of growth hormones feeding/growing the cancer. I'm trying to be rational but it has scared me!


i don't eat yoghurt (I hate the taste, though obviously as I get further through treatment that may change with my taste buds going for a bye bye), only have a very small amount of skimmed milk with porridge, but I do like a bit of cheese occasionally. Am I being rational or foolish to push aside their (kind/irrational) concerns?


im thinking moderation is the key. I eat lots of veg and salad and soup and generally cook all food fresh (we don't do convenience meals generally)


Re: Preparation for Chemo

Hi Belle, 


Thank you so much for taking the time to share this list of helpful tips to prepare for Chemotherapy. I am sure a lot of users will find these extremely helpful when preparing for treatment 🙂 



Thanks again Belle!


Best wishes, 




Preparation for Chemo

Hi all,


I thought it would be helpful to start a new thread with this list as I know it's been helpful to many.  It is in several of the monthly threads and both the tips & tricks threads but for ease of finding, I'm posting it here.  The information has come from an old and long thread but it is still a useful list as you are approaching your treatment. This list was started by Princess, reposted in 2008 and most recently updated by Sue H-S who is often around and part of the May 2016 group.  A big huge thanks to all the contributors who have added their tips over time.

For the Gums: 

Ensure you see your dentist before commencement of treatment to get everything sorted, including Hygienist. It will ensure your mouth is in a healthy state and may help to reduce some side effects.

  • Bonjela
  • Corsodyl daily for x 3 and Corsodyl normal for 1 (dentist recommended), mouthwash should not contain alcohol
  • ultra soft bristle brush/baby toothpaste
  • Aloe Vera based toothpaste, Beverley Hills gum strengthening toothpaste

For the mouth: 

  • Gelclair, salt water wash, Oraldene, tonic water, Difflam mouthwash
  • Aloe dent lip balm with lysine (good for cold sores also),Nivea Lip butter – try to ensure the lip balm is paraben free, especially if you have a hormone receptor positive diagnosis.

Bad taste: 

  • pineapple (fresh/chunks/drinks/lollies) - Haribo (not Tangtastic) - celery, mints, fresh fruit, pear drops, cola cubes, sherbet lemons

Water tasting odd: 

  • flavoured/sparkling water, fruit squash, fruit infusers


  •  Ginger (Rochester Ginger drinks (Holland & Barrett, Tesco Nurticentre and on-line stores) ginger beer, biscuits, sweets, fresh ginger)
  • smaller, regular meals
  • V8 vegetable juice
  • Manuka honey with hot water and peppermint oil
  • Slippery elm powder mixed into natural yoghurt
  • Banana for early morning with the anti-sickness tablet
  • Flavoured/green tea if can’t face milk or dairy products in tea (dairy – if you can go organic should you have hormone receptive diagnosis)

Light bites suggestions

  • cream cheese and bread sticks
  • Nothing spicy
  • Flat lemonade
  • Plain biscuits
  • Banana/peanut butter sandwiches
  • Travel bands/anti sickness bands (Poundland cheaper than Boots) - be careful with arm that's had lymph nodes removed if using these, they may be too tight.

General Wellbeing/During Chemo: 

  • Carry your card and thermometer with you all the time and keep bag packed
  • Get a medical alert bracelet or neckless if you had a sentinel node biopsy or node clearance stating no BP/IV (either RT arm or LT arm depending on which side the procedure was done) Lymphedema Risk
  • Chemo Caddy – see below
  • Pin up emergency numbers where everyone can see them – who to contact and when
  • Check with your consultant who to phone at evenings and weekends
  • Store emergency numbers in your phone
  • Digital thermometer if not given one by hospital (Poundland cheaper than Boots)
  • Drink LOTS of fluid before and after chemo - Lucozade for energy - Light meal before chemo
  • If having CMF and nose issues when Chemo being administered then sweets or lolly , ice lolly to suck during (small cool bag also recommended to keep lollies frozen)
  • Bath pillow (helps prevent cold bald head on cold bath)
  • Don’t take steroid dose after 2pm (awake/energised at wrong times), best time is in the morning
  • Eat fruit when you need to eat whilst/before taking tablets
  • Avoid alcohol for 2/3 days after chemo
  • Keep out of direct sunlight, ensure you have paraben free suntan lotion with SPF50 zinc oxide based and BB cream or make up with SPF
  • To avoid risk of infection – try to avoid un-pasteurised dairy products, wash veggies, meat properly cooked
  • Accept help wherever offered!
  • Prepare/buy nice food in advance for bad days

Sleep when you can

  • Fresh air - Exercise - Laughter - Ask for help if really sick! Talk to you GP for additional drugs!
  • Runny nose through loss of nose hair – tissues!
  • V-pillow
  • Check and see if GP can refer you to local leisure centre for cheaper use of fitness suite and swimming pool.
  • Constipation - breakfast of high fibre cereal/fruit smoothie/prune juice/Senna tablets
  • Sore Eyes
  • Boots hay fever relief drops
  • Cooling/chill eye mask
  • General eye mask to block light if affected


  • gel pads (stick on kind used for infants/migraine)

Dry skin/rashes/spots from Taxol

  • gentle moisturiser for hands and feet (Paraben free)
  • drink lots of juice and water but leave spots on face alone as skin sensitive

Hair loss/head coverings 

  • buffs
  • baseball cap
  • sleep caps, scarves, bangs, eyebrows, eyelashes, wigs etc
  • don’t wash it too often, use baby shampoo
  • Eylure great for brow stencils and brow pencils, false lashes, etc.
  • Amazon for real hair stick on ‘brow wigs’
  • Chemo bag Keep a bag packed in case of emergency hospital visit and to take on chemo days. Pyjamas, warm socks, clean knickers, wash bag with spare toothpaste and brush, face wipes, mirror, tissues, bag of pineapple pieces, anti-bacterial hand gel, book, ear plugs.
  • A basket with a handle (previously from delivery of pot plants) with everything needed in it so that you can have it by the bed upstairs or carry it down to crash in front of TV.

Chemo Caddy 

  • A basket with a handle (previously from delivery of pot plants) with everything needed in it so that you can have it by the bed upstairs or carry it down to crash in front of TV. (A bum bag has been suggested as keeps both hands free and no restrictions on your shoulders and particularly Snugpak Response Pak (online) as “tested in war, never beaten” and big enough to take a tool kit/chemo caddy or chemo bag).


  • Edibles – ginger biscuits, minty chewing gum, root ginger to nibble.
  • Treats – nice hand cream, chocolate, octopus shaped back massager, nail cream, buffer.
  • Essentials – tissues, glasses, lip salve, bottle of water, straw (in case can’t lift head from pillow), little bell (to summon family to fetch/make tea)

Once again, all credits to the ladies who have added to this making it an invaluable reference tool and thanks to Princess for starting it!


Hope this helps Smiley Happy

B x