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What to expect during chemo

SaturdayBoy
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi. 

My wife was just diagnosed with Hodgkins. She starts ABVD chemo this week. Can anyone give me some advice on how best I can support and care for her during her treatment? (I want to do everything I can make the next few months as bearable as possible for her.)

Any tips on what to expect, what to avoid, what to be aware of, etc, would be a great help. 

Thanks!
SB

Aaron's picture
Aaron
Posts: 237
Joined: Jun 2012

Hi, I'm sorry your wife has to go through this. I'm only 2 treatments in but my 2xents would be senakot a day before and several days after treatment. Lots of fluids I drink tons of water the day before and of treatment and than switch to water, juice and broth to remain well hydrated for several days after. Chewing on ice during the push meds may help to lessen th mouth sores wich really suck. A yogurt a day can go a long way to keeping stomach pain down. You've found a great resource here in this forum and more folks will chime in soon.

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 998
Joined: May 2012

SB,

I did 12 infusions of r-abvd three years ago, and Aaron is now doing 12 as well, just finishing round #2.

Serious hydration is critical, as Aaron noted. Actually, you are drinking a very abnormal amount of water, and it was not so easy for me to do, but dehydration is a very common problem, and makes the patient feel horrible. Mostly, drinking protects the kidneys, and protects cell health as the body deals with the toxic effects of chemo.

Is she getting rituxan with the abvd ? That has a set of potential issues all its own.

There is actually a massive amount of stuff to get familiarized with, so be ready.

max

vinny59's picture
vinny59
Posts: 1030
Joined: Nov 2006

I received Ruxitin infusions, not ABVD chemo. There are drugs to help with nausea if that becomes a problem, make sure she rest's when she feels run down. You job as a care giver is hard, I always told my wife that. You are going to feel helpless at times, it's normal. Just be there when she needs you. It will be over before you know it and she will get better, there is proof of that on this site! Any questions just post, Vinny

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 1971
Joined: Aug 2011

Sorry you have to be here but as you've already seen - lots of
caring and supportive folks here. Adding to the others,
things to consider:

1. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You will be tempted to do
everything but you also need to take care of you and have some
normalcy in your life. Also, let your wife do what she feels
able to do that is safe and not too taxing. This will help her
feel at least a little independent during this.

2. Prepare for hair loss - she will probably lose her hair sometime
between the 2nd and 3rd cycles. It will help you both feel more in
control if you go ahead and clip it off ahead of time. Aaron here
donate his long hair to "Locks of Love" which is a great thing to do.
If you're so inclined, buzz your own head. Find fun and silly headgear
to help take the sting out of this.

3. Prednisone - most everyone has issues with prednisone/steroids. They
can make you very moody, bounce off the walls, hungry all the time, and
difficult to sleep until it wears off. For me, it kind of removed my
"filter" and I said things I wouldn't normally say. Just be understanding
that she may not exactly be herself during this time.

4. Fatigue generally gets worse as you progress through the cycles so
expect this. It's different for everyone but this is pretty common
with many chemotherapies.

5. Weakened immunity is also common so when her counts are down, you just
want to be extra clean and careful about exposure to germs and sick people
and absolutely no raw foods (everything should be thoroughly cooked). It
would be a good idea to have plenty of hand sanitizer at home and smaller
travel size to take with you. Having masks on hand is also probably a good
idea. Your medical team should educate you about this.
Also, there are several websites out there with good info on this.

6. Cancer will change both of your lives forever and it doesn't have to be
all bad. You will definitely weed out the unimportant things in your life
and gain a different, perhaps better perspective. As is often said here,
"Take it one day at a time".

7. Hope is alive and well here :). Know that lymphoma is very treatable and
they are developing new treatments all the time. I probably say it too much
but attitude and humor are free weapons in this war - use them to your
advantage.

Please let your wife know she is welcome here as well. Good folks
are here :). Sending you both peace and positive energy on this
journey.

Hugs and positive thoughts,

Jim
DX: DLBL 4/2011, Chemo completed 10/2011, currently in remission. :)

Aaron's picture
Aaron
Posts: 237
Joined: Jun 2012

Jim, you couldn't use that brilliant phrase too much if you tried. During some of my darker moment in my journey I think of those words and it brings some levity every time. Bless your heart Jim, you always have a kind word or two and the time to give them. Aaron

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 1971
Joined: Aug 2011

Aaron, that is so nice of you to say and thank you so much.
I realize I'm kind of silly sometimes and I'm sure on some level,
it's probably attention getting (blush) but I think that even for a
moment I can help someone smile or laugh during their journey, they
will feel a little bit better and at least for awhile the load is not
so heavy.

Well, regarding the "kind words", you haven't seen me behind the wheel
of a car when the people in front are driving too slow, cut me off, etc.
Yeah, I get road rage sometimes but so far, I've never shot anybody ;).

I posted this video link awhile back and I never get tired of watching
it cause it inspires me. It makes me cry sometimes but crying can be
good too.

We are stronger than we think ☺

Again thank you - you made my day.

Jim

SaturdayBoy
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2012

Just wanted to thank you all for the advice and support. You guys have been great, and your advice is really helpful for me and my wife.

She just completed her first chemo session today, so all your kind words and useful tips are already helping us out.

Thanks again,
SB

ta8631
Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2012

As a wife just be there for her n her times of sadness, confusion and anger :) my biggest fear was how I was going to take care of my husband and kids only to find out his biggest fear was if I was going to finally depend on him for once!! He has been my rock through it all even the loss of my hair which for me was horrifying to have him see but we mad a joke of it and we laughed as he shaved my head :)

po18guy
Posts: 237
Joined: Nov 2011

I think everything has been covered very well. There is something that has been mentioned several times by cancer patients: There are times that they might just need a little space, as the fight can be as much psychological as it is physical. It is a balancing act, though, and you know her best. Don't be afraid to either stay close by, or grant her just a little room at times.

Marriages often work out with a sharing of tasks around the home. She is probably not going to feel well enough to do what she did before. If she expresses frustration with that, you might just remind her of your vow "for better, or for worse; in sickness and in health." When the rubber hits the road, this is what those wedding vows mean, and it is the proof of love.

Know also that it is often more difficult to watch someone else suffer than it is to bear that same suffering. Have some way of dealing with the sorrow that you will feel, as well. If she needs some time to herself, so will you.

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