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First Chemo Session Coming up, some questions

Cloud_Lover's picture
Cloud_Lover
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2009

Hello All, I have visited here often but this is my first post. Feb 22 will be my first Chemo Session with my cocktail being Taxol & Carboplatin. My infusion will be every 3 weeks for 6-8 sessions, my port will be inserted this Thurs Feb 18.

I had a radical hysterectomy Oct 26th, abdominal incision which completely healed. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days after surgery till my bowels started functioning again. I walk daily, drive, lift more then 10 lbs finally and feel almost normal. My Chemo was supposed to start 6-8 weeks after surgery but I had problems with insurance so it got delayed.

Tomorrow I'm getting my head shaved, guaranteed I would loss my head hair and could not stand the thought of large clumps on my pillow some night shortly. Watched that happen to my sister, too distressing to see so don't want that experience first hand.

Several questions.

1. What precautions did you take to avoid getting an infection while taking the chemo, I'm wondering how this will impact my church and business functions.

2. Did you take precautions around your pets.

3. Were you able to brush and floss your teeth.

I have an appt with my doctor Feb 19th, trying to think of good question to ask him.

kkstef's picture
kkstef
Posts: 706
Joined: May 2008

I am sorry to hear that you have become a member of this special "club", but we are all in this together and help each other on the journey!

I had a meeting with my oncologist's nurse prior to starting chemo. They are so good about providing you with TONS of information. Take someone with you to take notes as it is so hard to remember everything. I also got a huge notebook, some brochures, a cook book etc....She taught me what lab values I had to have in order to get the chemo, and which ones were most important.

It is great to go with your questions....every physician has their own protocol. I also had carbo and Taxol and was scheduled for 7 treatments but I was only able to complete 5. I was advised to avoid large crowds, avoid salad bars and cafeteria type food. I really didn't have any other restrictions, but since you have your blood work weekly after each chemo, the nurse will call you if your white count is dropping which puts you at a bigger risk for infection. If your count is low they will add other precautions. If your platelets get too low you can have a bleeding problem. I had some issues with this so was told during that time to use a soft toothbrush and not floss.

Re: pets...Again, ask your nurse. I had a friend that could be around her pets but was told not to change her cat's litter, etc. I have no pets, so that was not an issue for me.

Be sure to let your chemo nurse know ANY symptoms that you have....it is amazing what they can order to make your symptoms less problematic. I did have more difficulty keeping my counts up, in spite of Neulasta injections, but they told me up front that anyone who has had radiation prior to chemo generally has a more difficult time with their counts. Be sure to report any numbness, pain, tingling in your hands and feet as that is a neuropathy that can become progressively worse.

If you do a search on the Uterine Cancer thread with you chemo drugs....or even just search for chemo you will find lots of comments from many ladies on this site who haved shared much info.... And keep asking here and compiling your list!!

Best wishes to you!!!!

Karen

GabbyMaude's picture
GabbyMaude
Posts: 4
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Cloud! I just had my second taxol/ carboplatin infusion today. It went well, and so far no bad side effects. I have a dog - very affectional beagle. I do pet him but do not allow him to lick me. I am very careful about costant had sanitizing. I work at a community college and am limited my student contact during chemo - also constant hand sanitizing. I am working from home during low immune days, but trying to get in 8 - 10 days a month during this 18 week period. While I did contract flu and pneumonia immediately following my first chemo, I have recovered well and feel well at the moment. I would suggest careful re entry into work and support from co workers for limited contact with customers. It's so tough - hard for me because I really don't feel that bad! Very strange stealth cancer, but fast growing and spreading in my case. Hard to what's coming. Thanks for your comments

Cloud_Lover's picture
Cloud_Lover
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2009

Thank you all for the quick response, I was hoping to see some tonight. It makes so much sense to take my contact limitation according to my blood test results. My church group has been so supportive, it was hard to think about getting cut off when I need it most.

We have a house bunny, my husband is going to take over her clean up duties, I have to trust he'll do a good job.

My husband goes to all appts and writes everything down, it's almost a must as I'm hearing impaired and somethings don't grasp all that's said. I do want to start a journal so I can look back on this journey.

I read a book called Cancer on $5 a day, chemo not included by Robert Schimmel. He had many many serious side effects and one was he could not brush or floss his teeth. He was a very successful comedian when he began his cancer battle, his book had some good belly chuckles, he uses his humor to help others. Good idea.

I will browse thought the different forums. Good night and Blessings to everyone.
Ruth

Cecile Louise's picture
Cecile Louise
Posts: 135
Joined: Dec 2009

During my chemo treatments, I avoided crowds, brushed my teeth but did not floss and rinsed my mouth often with a weak salt water (made a jar full so it would be handy in the bathroom). I took stool softeners religiously during my treatment. I did not keep my cats away, although in hindsight, I probably should have at least been more diligent about sanitizing my hands after petting them. The first couple days after each treatment, I felt pretty good, but would crash on the 3rd day and feel pretty lousy for a few days afterward...don't let yourself become too fatigued, even though you may feel ok at first. I developed foliculitis (painful, itchy bumps on my [bald} head so I started using Neutrogena soap to wash my head and applied a triple antibiotic ointment to the bumps - seemed to help. (the bumps went away after awhile)So avoid raw vegetables and make sure your meat, fish & chicken are cooked thoroughly. I also went ahead and shaved my head so as to reduce the trauma of going bald. Don't worry, though...it's fun to see what kind of hair you'll grow back!! Mine's WAY curly after having straight hair all my life!

Hugs,
Cecile

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I clean my bunny's cage even when my counts are low. Rabbit poop isn't like cat or dog poop; they have a special digestive process. You can even put bunny poop right on your garden without composting. I suggest you clean your hands well after doing it (and I suggest if your husband has volunteered to do it to LET HIM!!!!), but I have been on & off with chemo the last year and a half and never got sick from my sweet bunny.

You do want to brush your teeth with a soft brush and I treated myself to a new toothbrush with each chemo (every 3 weeks). You can get mouth sores from the chemo if you don't keep your mouth extra clean. But if your platelets get low, you won't be able to floss until your labs show an improvement there. If you have always flossed daily and have nice hard gums from that, you can probably keep flossing until your platelets drop. I did.

The main advice I'd give for carbo/taxol is to up your fiber and fluids and keep them up. You need to be aware of your bowels and act immediately if you go a day without a BM to get things moving. It is easy to get constipated and dangerous when your counts are low, so eat a high fiber diet and be ever vigilant. Try to drink 64 ounces of water daily. My nutritionist told me to eat yogurt every day to replace the 'good bacteria' that chemo would unbalance. (The biggest danger to you when your counts are down isn't usually your environment as much as the change of balance within your own body.)

You've recovered from your surgery, so you've already been through the worst of it. Chemo is much easier than the surgery, in my opinion, MUCH easier! (((Hugs)))). Chemo isn't fun, but it's not nearly as awful as you think it might be. I love having the time to read, a real luxury for me. I made a lot of friends at chemo, too. I cried the first day I walked into the chemo lounge, so I understand how you feel. But you'll look around and see people laughing and socializing and LIVING, and the examples of bravery and hope will help you more than I can describe. (((HUGS)))

Cloud_Lover's picture
Cloud_Lover
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2009

Thanks for the feedback on the bunny, it is wonderful to find someone who understands what love buckets they are. I'll let my hubby take over and no be so worried about touching her.

Well the deed is done, it wasn't as sad as I thought but it will take some getting use to. I have had lumps on the front of my head for years (like over 20 years), the doctor said not to worry but one is pretty big and ugly without hair, I'll ask my doctor about it Friday.

I'm not sure how to reply on this board yet, when I go to reply it takes me back to the topic sign in. I want to let everyone know how valuable your comments are but I don't have the process figured out yet. Thank you all.

Tomorrow I have my port put in, have to be at the hospital at 7:30, makes a short night. At least it won't take so long to get ready in am as I have no hair to blow dry :)

norma2's picture
norma2
Posts: 486
Joined: Aug 2009

Hope it is going well for you today.

When hubby shaved my head a couple of weeks ago I started taking a little extra time with make up. It made me feel better. Something I usually did not do on a daily basis.
I also bought myself a comfy new set of pj's and a soft knit cap to match. It is cold at night with a bald head. My hubby said he likes it. I think he is fibbing but it is sweet of him.

During chemo I like the imagery tapes. There are audio and video ones available. The center where I get chemo has a tv channel devoted to them, but you might find some audio ones where you are located.

I will be thinking of you. {{{Ruth}}}

Ro10's picture
Ro10
Posts: 1363
Joined: Jan 2009

Sorry you have to be on this journey with us, but I think you will find this site very helpful. As your questions arise someone will try to answer them. So many of us have had different experiences, but we can all appreciate your anxiety. The more time you have to read previous posts from others hopefully it will help you.

Glad you are recovering well from your surgery. I am so glad you are getting a port inserted. It will make the chemo, labs and CAT scans so much easier for you.

It does take a while to get used to your bald head, but it sure does make it quicker getting ready to go out. I got used to wearing a ball cap when I went out for sun protection before I started chemo, so the adjustment to wearing a cap was easier for me. Because before that I would rather wear a visor than a cap. A visor would look really funny with a bald head!

I know that I missed my eyelashes more than my hair. So I too concentrated on eyeliner to make me not look sick. I got a lighted magnifying mirror to help put on the eyeliner. It was hard without my glasses to see what I was doing. I still am waiting for eyelashes to come back. I kept my eyebrows throughout the treatments though. One of the chemo nurses told me that when you don't have hair, they look at your eyes to see how you are doing.
If you get the chance to go to the free program offered by the American Cancer Society - "Look Good, Feel Good" it will give you tips on make-up, and free make-up, too.

You might want to use the search engine and type in "Resources" to see what other resources are available that you are not aware of.

I know what you mean about when you hit post comment, it takes me back to the topic on the discussion board, too. I just hit the back arrow two times and it goes back to all the topics on this discussion board. It took me a while to get started with the board, too. For some reason I could not post at first.

Wishing you well and know that we are here for you. In peace and caring.

Cloud_Lover's picture
Cloud_Lover
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2009

Well the port surgery went pretty smoothly, no discomfort so far only tightness where the tape is in place.

My nose is stuffed up like when catching a cold but I think it was from the oxygen tube. Short while ago I was playing with some different hats, looked in the mirror and was horrified to see my neck was blue, thought it was bruising then realized is was a wash they used in surgery.

Think I have a slight case of side effects willy's, too early to go there:)

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 201
Joined: Oct 2009

Glad to hear your port is in! It is tough to have surgery again so soon after hysterectomy. The port removal is a piece of cake compared to the placement or insertion. Take precautions like carrying individual packets of GermX which can be found at Sam's Club or Walgreens. Keep a zip lock bag in your purse and car. Wipe your hands with them after pumping gas, also wipe the stearing wheel down sometimes. Also after shopping...wipe down handles of grocery carts. I minimized the amount of time I spent in store and learned to shop online...still do! Remember that the H1N1 flu is expected to return this spring and your immune system will be weakened. It you are concerned about being around church group wear a thin mask...that isn't usually required unless your neutriphils or white blood cell counts are quite low. Ask your nurse about when you may have to wear a mask.
You will be most vulnerable probably the first 10 days after chemo before your counts start to raise again.
I also didn't eat seafood while on chemo. Get some Chlorox spray cleaner and wipe down telephones and door handle at home. Change toothbrush atleast monthly and use soft bristle. Toothpaste may burn your mouth after first chemo but you will find one which is more mild..(usually non-whitening). For gentle scalp shampoo there is a brand called Vanicream shampoo which you can get at Walgreens. It is very gentle. I never got any mouth sores. Agree with Linda to watch the bowels...the drugs you are taking tend to constipate so take and extra laxitive tablet...like Senna S ( I would take 3 tablets instead of two) or some people use Miralax (both are over the counter). So much advice from all of us that I wish I would have found earlier in my treatment.
Love up your pets but don't clean up after them. I am 6 weeks post last chemo and have had my port removed. I feel really good and am soooooo thankful to have made it through the last 7 months of treatment. Keep us all posted on how you are doing! God Bless (((HUGS))) Lori

Cloud_Lover's picture
Cloud_Lover
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2009

Thank you for all the good advice. I had a list of questions for my doctor today, feel better and more ready. He reassured me on a lot of points.
It's a little overwhelming trying to keep everything straight. I got one of those purse size GermX and baggie thing ready to go.

I think I'll go through this post and write down all the great suggestions. I do have trouble remember even before chemo.

Hugs to all, Ruth

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