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tomorrow I start Chemo treatment

Hybridspirits's picture
Hybridspirits
Posts: 144
Joined: Nov 2012

Okay just curious if you guys had the same apprehension as I do.  I have read all the wonder inspiratoinal threads helping me deal with this  But somehow there is this looming apprehension of putting these "chemicals" in my body and not knowing what will happen.

Similar to a number of other folks I have rarely taken medicine and tend to avoid them at all costs if necessary.  But now we are going to put the all time chemical in my body.  I know it is for the better but it also has for the worst.

My personality is one that likes information and control and now I am in a position of minimal information and control.  I was originaly going to start next week but i healed so fast they called and said we will start tomorrow.  Wow what a shocker,  there went my weekend before chemo out the door.  Of course I freeked out as it has been hard to shop for a wig during the holiday weeks as shops were closed and manufacturers were closed for inventory.  So wouldn't it have been nice to go back and see if what I picked out was in before I started this mess.  Nope, that will not happen.

Maybe it is better to minimize the wait but oh boy.  What a learning experience for my type of personality.  I am grateful that the weather is so nice and sunny as I can go out and go for some nice walks before tomorrow.  Can't even sneak in an "illegal" bike ride as it snowed this past week and the roads are still pretty messy.  Guess that is good as I really shouldn't do that.

I am trying to align my thinking that this chemo process is my "partner", and hopefully Joe Chemo my new partner treats me as nice as all my friends and family.

well off to get the steroids I will need to take tonight (how wonderful).  Taking steroids the night before,  guess sleep will not be too easy, especially for me the type that thinks and analyzes most things until the cows come out.

Oh and then there is the 6 hours in a chair while all this happens.  Guess it is time for me to learn to relax.  My first thought was what will I do for 6 hours just sitting there!

as always I invite words of wisdom and helpful hints.

 

thanks much and hope everyone's 2013 has been treating them well!

 

Sharon

 

 

 

daisy366's picture
daisy366
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

First of all kudos to you for all your positive thinking about this process.  It sure is normal to worry about putting toxic substances in our bodies.  I remember my first chemo day.  I think I actually visuallized myself walking through fire as she put that needle in me.  (I hope you have a port) But...

I can honestly say, that with most things in life, it was not as bad as my imagination.  You will sleep through alot of that 6 hours - sedatives.  I used the time to listen to guided imagery tapes/CDs and think positive thoughts about the chemo as you mentioned.  I imagined it making the cancer leave and not harming my good cells. One thing that I hope you don't do is chat loudly on your cell phone.  This made me crazy since the chemo lab was grand central station with everyone and their brother conducting business in there - rude and stressful.  I complained and now they don't allow cell phones but people still abuse this rule.  If this is a problem, ask for a private room.  I did and it was heaven - I could meditate and sleep undisturbed. 

I was fortunate to work throughout chemo with little problem. I had little angst about hair loss and ended up going "au natural" since wigs hurt and those scarves slif right off.  A baseball cap worked and when cold I wore a knitted cap. 

One thing to check - my American Cancer Society GAVE me a beautiful new and expensive wig from their "closet".  I wish I had taken advantage of the look good feel good program - free makeup class you will get lots of goodies.  I still could do it since I'm in midst of 3rd chemo regime. 

Maybe it's a good thing that they got you in sooner - less time for that mind to work up anxiety.  You will be fine my friend.  Hugs to you. 

Mary Ann

jazzy1's picture
jazzy1
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mar 2010

I'm with Mary Ann about your thinking "positively".  While reading your post I was thinking many of the same thoughts prior to my first chemo session.  As well, not one to like any type of meds in me, then the almighty bull called CHEMO hits...yikes!

 

Do you have someone going with you?  I had a good friend go with me and it sure was great.  My infusion took 5 hours, after they had issues finding the best vein (didn't have time for the port inserted, but did learn it's a "requirement" if you don't want to be a pin cushion).  I worked with my mind for a week prior to convince myself the drugs were my savior and needed to keep me alive, so get moving.  As well, try not to think so far ahead, as many things never happend that we're convinced will happen.

 

My steriods were the first part of infusion (as yours the night before) which took 1 hour.  After that I was so groggy, hardly remember the remainder of the day.  

 

Best advice I can give, try to not think too much into it....work on THE MOMENT.  Tell yourself this is needed to keep you alive and to get you well.  Use some visualization techniques to see yourself in a comfortable and safe spot, outside of the chemo room.  I'm a lover of the beach, so I envisioned myself at that moment at the beach, feeling the warmth of the sun and listening to the swish of the ocean waves.  At least I was somewhat away from the current "real world" situation and when I came back to the chemo room, more in a calmness.

 

None of this stuff is easy, but we have to try anything which works for us.  Try to find a way to stay calm.  As well, realize we have ALL BEEN IN YOUR SHOES and you know what, most of us are still here.  

 

Lastly, once out of treatment and home, drink lots of fluids and rest if your body signals it.  Eat some small meals as you might be nausious...just try to keep food in you as it'll help give you strength.

 

I'll be thinking of you and sending you positive vibes to be back up and riding your bike real soon!!

 

Hugs,

Jan

 

 

beila
Posts: 97
Joined: Sep 2012

Sharon

I like you was always someone who was paranoid about drugs, etc

This requires a total shift in your attitude, which I did, and you can do

As you mentioned,you need to focus on the fact that the chemodrugs are beating up the cancer, AND NOTHING ELSE

As for the actual chemo infusion, I assume it is Taxol and Carboplatin, as this is the 5  or 6 hour one.....YOU FEEL NOTHING, (except sleepy from the benadryl). Otherwise it feels like sugarwater is going into you,....You can get up and walk around....with all the IV fluid, you will have to get up to pee.   Hopefully they will give you a bed, and you can relax, read a magazine, text, read E Mails, and sleep....it really is a "piece of cake"

Then you feel good for a few days, and energized due to the steroids...the only problem is too energized to sleep well.....get some Ativan...for those times and for tonight...Just take one half a milligram...if that doesnt work, tak on more half   Unless you are an "addictive personality" YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET ADDICTED TO ATIVAN IF YOU TAKE IT A COUPLE OF TIMES A MONTH!!!!  I am a medical doctor, and speak from experience with patients and myself....too much negativity about ativan, which can be EXTREMELY helpful, when used appropriately, as this is.

 

Assuming this is Carbo/Taxol, I sailed through it. For About 2 days, after come off the steroids, feel a bit tired, achy, lousy.....like a mild flu without the fever.  Then some ongoing fatigue, but really nothing else..occasional achiness relieved by one extra strength tylenol

The worst was constipation, which you must PREVENT.  this is not a normal constipation...start taking the stool softener tonight, and every day. If no BM tomorrow, take the Senekot laxative...if no BM by 2pm the next day, take 2 more and stool softener....drink loads of water

Really, this is not nearly as bad as you fear...I went to Montreal once (I live in Toronto) and Cuba twice during my 6 weeks of Carbo/Taxol

Do not think about anything that it is doing to your body, except killing cancer cells!!!!

Your hair will grow back...cut it real short tonight

 

All the Best,

Beila

 

 

 

beila
Posts: 97
Joined: Sep 2012

Sharon

I like you was always someone who was paranoid about drugs, etc

This requires a total shift in your attitude, which I did, and you can do

As you mentioned,you need to focus on the fact that the chemodrugs are beating up the cancer, AND NOTHING ELSE

As for the actual chemo infusion, I assume it is Taxol and Carboplatin, as this is the 5  or 6 hour one.....YOU FEEL NOTHING, (except sleepy from the benadryl). Otherwise it feels like sugarwater is going into you,....You can get up and walk around....with all the IV fluid, you will have to get up to pee.   Hopefully they will give you a bed, and you can relax, read a magazine, text, read E Mails, and sleep....it really is a "piece of cake"

Then you feel good for a few days, and energized due to the steroids...the only problem is too energized to sleep well.....get some Ativan...for those times and for tonight...Just take one half a milligram...if that doesnt work, tak on more half   Unless you are an "addictive personality" YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET ADDICTED TO ATIVAN IF YOU TAKE IT A COUPLE OF TIMES A MONTH!!!!  I am a medical doctor, and speak from experience with patients and myself....too much negativity about ativan, which can be EXTREMELY helpful, when used appropriately, as this is.

Assuming this is Carbo/Taxol, I sailed through it. For About 2 days, after come off the steroids, feel a bit tired, achy, lousy.....like a mild flu without the fever.  Then some ongoing fatigue, but really nothing else..occasional achiness relieved by one extra strength tylenol

The worst was constipation, which you must PREVENT.  this is not a normal constipation...start taking the stool softener tonight, and every day. If no BM tomorrow, take the Senekot laxative...if no BM by 2pm the next day, take 2 more and stool softener....drink loads of water

Really, this is not nearly as bad as you fear...I went to Montreal once (I live in Toronto) and Cuba twice during my 6 weeks of Carbo/Taxol

Do not think about anything that it is doing to your body, except killing cancer cells!!!!

Your hair will grow back

All the Best,

Beila

 

 

beila
Posts: 97
Joined: Sep 2012

Sharon

I like you was always someone who was paranoid about drugs, etc

This requires a total shift in your attitude, which I did, and you can do

As you mentioned,you need to focus on the fact that the chemodrugs are beating up the cancer, AND NOTHING ELSE

As for the actual chemo infusion, I assume it is Taxol and Carboplatin, as this is the 5  or 6 hour one.....YOU FEEL NOTHING, (except sleepy from the benadryl). Otherwise it feels like sugarwater is going into you,....You can get up and walk around....with all the IV fluid, you will have to get up to pee.   Hopefully they will give you a bed, and you can relax, read a magazine, text, read E Mails, and sleep....it really is a "piece of cake"

Then you feel good for a few days, and energized due to the steroids...the only problem is too energized to sleep well.....get some Ativan...for those times and for tonight...Just take one half a milligram...if that doesnt work, tak on more half   Unless you are an "addictive personality" YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET ADDICTED TO ATIVAN IF YOU TAKE IT A COUPLE OF TIMES A MONTH!!!!  I am a medical doctor, and speak from experience with patients and myself....too much negativity about ativan, which can be EXTREMELY helpful, when used appropriately, as this is.

Assuming this is Carbo/Taxol, I sailed through it. For About 2 days, after come off the steroids, feel a bit tired, achy, lousy.....like a mild flu without the fever.  Then some ongoing fatigue, but really nothing else..occasional achiness relieved by one extra strength tylenol

The worst was constipation, which you must PREVENT.  this is not a normal constipation...start taking the stool softener tonight, and every day. If no BM tomorrow, take the Senekot laxative...if no BM by 2pm the next day, take 2 more and stool softener....drink loads of water

Really, this is not nearly as bad as you fear...I went to Montreal once (I live in Toronto) and Cuba twice during my 6 weeks of Carbo/Taxol

Do not think about anything that it is doing to your body, except killing cancer cells!!!!

Your hair will grow back

All the Best,

Beila

 

 

beila
Posts: 97
Joined: Sep 2012

how the heck do I get rid of the 2 extra copies of this??

I tried painstaking deleting every line, but that did not work

Hybridspirits's picture
Hybridspirits
Posts: 144
Joined: Nov 2012

thanks for all the advice.  Just got back from getting my prescriptions.  No ativan yet.  She did say I could use tylenal PM.  I will get the prescription tomorrow to have on hand

The only wrinkle right now is that my counts are startng out low.   This wasn't without my telling them that I always have whtie blood counts on the lower end of the spectrum.  We shall see what that does with this process when they do a recheck tomorrow.

thanks for the hints on the constipation.  They don't warn you. I suffer from it normally and the hysterectomy didn't help.    Sending husband out to get the Senekot laxative to have. 

My husband has been out of work so I am blessed with him being around all the time. So he will be there with me. 

Not happy to read how good it will be to have a port.  My ongocolgist only likes to do this as a last resort. So I will start drinking water now and hydrate myself as my veins are usually hard to find.  hopefully the water will help the constipation as well

Sounds like knitting might not be the right thing tomorrow as they said they will give me benedryl in the IV so i might be sleepy.

got a juicer so I have a new toy to keep me occupied with.  maybe I can find ways to up my white  blood count. I have a feeling this will be my challenge since I might be a little behind the eight ball out of the starting gates

 

thanks again for the words of encouragement

Sharon

 

 

Ro10's picture
Ro10
Posts: 1361
Joined: Jan 2009

I too remember the anxiety before my first chemo.  The fear of the unknown, not knowing how you will react to the drugs.  Like others have said it was not as bad as i anticipated.  I did have a reaction to Taxol so my taxol infusions lasted 5 hours.  But at least I could get the medication.  

Like Mary Ann suggested a port is very important.  I did not get one until after my third treatment.  I had good veins before chemo, but they diappeared with the chemo.  My third chemo it took 3 sticks for lab and 2 more for the chemo.  I would highly recommend a port.  My gyn/ono did not recommend one either.  He said I would be fine.  He was wrong.  My viens still have not returned 4 years later.  

Keeping ahead of constipation is important.  I used Ducolax stool softener and Correctal when needed.  Lots of fluid is important too.

I took my I pod and listened to music, did Sudoku, read magazines and did counted cross stitch.  I never did sleep from my benadryl.  I think the steroids they gave me couteracted the benadryl.

I was lucky that my husband was always with me "watching me like a hawk".  He was always relieved when I finished another treatment.  

Keep positive thoughts.  Sending you a BIG cyber hug.  In peace and caring. 

 

txtrisha55's picture
txtrisha55
Posts: 423
Joined: Apr 2011

My 2 cents worth, no much that the other ladies have not already touched on.  When I went through the chemo treatments in 2011 at my cancer center they had private rooms with TV & DVD.  We took our food drinks but they had snacks that you could get.  We took in movies, books, cards but ended up just watching different TV shows usually.  I could go to the bathroom walking with the IV pole was a bit tricky but doable.  I had a port which I still have.  It was a good thing to have, saved the veins.  Once I got hooked up to the IV, I got several shots which they told me were Histamine Blockers.  Benadryl, Pepcid or zantac, and then a steroid shot.  The first time there, the 1st shot I got was Benadryl which they gave close to the port instead of up high on the IV tube, when that hit me it was a major rush and put me straight to sleep.  I then got the first chemo drug Taxol with the first 30 minutes at a slow pace so they could track to see if you are allergic to the chemo.  After 30 minutes the machine speeds up the medicine to a faster drip, it still took about 3 hours.  When it is through with that bag they started the second chemo bag of carbo which took about an hour. Then they finished up with IV fluid then sent me on my way.  I do not remember much about that first treatment, since I was out most of the day.  Felt fine that night but around the 3rd day felt real tired and had flu like symptoms.   Good thing my daughter went with me as I was out even after the 5 hour transfusion.  She drove me home.  Next time I told them to not put it in that low again. 

My treatments were every 21 days.  The first two treatments I was not back at work yet but started back for the next four treatments.  Lost my hair about 16 days after first treatment.  I cut it before treatments started so it was short when it started falling out.  Then I used an electric razor to cut is shorter 1/8”, then a razor to shave my head.  I did the whole bald is beautiful thing, here in Texas in 2011 during the summer was 100 degrees everyday so wigs were not an option for me, nether were hats or scarves.  When I went back to work everyone was very supporting about the bald head.  I even took our division photograph with the group with my bald head.  I know that some people have emotional ties to their hair but I did not and mine grew back and is driving me crazy as it is getting long again.

I did work the rest the way through all the remaining treatments, I did take off when I was tired but otherwise I was there.  Do drink lots of water and do try and control the constipation as that can get bad fast.  The one thing I notice no one talked about yet is that on day 3 your taste buds seem to go away and nothing taste the way it should.  Food you normally love will taste off.  To increase my WBC, I ate the small 4 oz piece of smoked salmon with plain crackers, that raised my WBC to within the normal range. 

Consult with your drs about starting any supplements during treatments.  Before surgery, I had been taking Omega-3 and a baby asprin along with a bunch of others.  She made me stop taking all except my prescription medicines.  I will be praying for you to get through treatments with flying colors. trish

 

Sisters three's picture
Sisters three
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

I will checkin later and hope to find your out the other side of your treatment and relaxing!

Lisa

ConnieSW's picture
ConnieSW
Posts: 541
Joined: Jun 2012

I echo what the others told you for the most part except I was never sleepy from the benadryl so do take your knitting.  I never just sit so I had a bag with my knitting, a magazine, a book,sudoku, and an iPod so my daughter and friends could email me (it made them feel like they were helping).  Also, my chemo was in my gyn/onc's office so I was with other women with gyn cancers.  We were great support for each other, just like on this site.  I think we educated each other better than the staff did.

I took colace routinely and senekot s as instructed but it wasn't enough.  I learned to go straight to the MOM the first night.

My taste buds were never affected but my appetite was.  I found yogurt (especially smoothies), cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, tomato juice, and oatmeal were all that appealed to me so I made sure I had them on hand when I started each cycle.

Just think, starting a week early means you will be done a week earlier.

 

 

plantlady2012
Posts: 49
Joined: Dec 2012

Chemo is just not as bad for most people as we envision it!  Everyone in the infusion room is pretty much going about their business, reading, or listening to music with earphones, or eating their lunches.  I think people our ages remember seeing and hearing about older relatives going through cancer treatment back when it was just horrible.  It has been made into a much easier experience for most people.

I seriously thought I might not survive my first treatment.  I was a large lady, so they planned to give me an extra-high dose.  Problem is, I have a long history of being very sensitive to medication.  Sometimes a child's dose of medication was all I could handle, and it would work just fine for me.  I thought they would over-dose me.  I showed everyone where my Will was, and my powers of attorney, and really thought I might not be home again.  But I was, lol!  As it turned out, I was allergic to a couple of the drugs, but they simply replaced them with others.  I was fine, they watch you VERY closely and intervene at the smallest sign of trouble! 

I wish I had gotten a port, too.  And yeah, everyone has good advice about avoiding constipation! 

I didn't get sick at all, and never needed any of the anti-nausea meds they prescribed  They did give me some by IV just before the chemo treatments, but the at-home prescription ones turned out to be unnecessary.  I met many people for whom this was true, and others who just didn't feel very well for a day or two, and the meds helped them.  Occasionally, I didn't feel like eating, and a cup of ginger tea would fix me right up.  I also found probiotic kefir to be soothing.

I am SO amazed at what a great plan you have, for visualizing during your treatment!  I didn't even know about that stuff back then!  What a great job you are doing!

 

--Lynn

NorahS
Posts: 93
Joined: Dec 2012

I was also apprehensive about chemo, but it was much better than I anticipated. There is some very good advice here, like being careful not to get constipated and drinking plenty of water. I found it helpful to have water on my nightstand and by my recliiner so that I always had water readily available. 

Generally speaking, and counting chemo day as Day 1 - whatever effects (if any) you have will start to be felt from about Day 3 to about Day 6 or 7. Then side effects usually subside during Week 2 and ease or are non-existent during Week 3. Then the next cycle begins again. 

If you are able (not if you don't feel like it, but if you are able) make sure to get up and walk - even if it's just a short walk around the house. Do this (or other forms of very mild exercise) several times a day right from the get-go. 

It is best - especially during winter - to avoid crowds (sickness & infections) when your WBC's plummet right after chemo. Usually you can ease up a little by Week 2 or 3 and be out and about the community a bit more, but do continue to use good hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing, etc. during the entire time you are on chemo.  

As you know, chemo also targets your hair (why it falls out) but it also targets the linings of your mouth. You might want to avoid acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus) for awhile (usually the first week). Be sure to very gently (much more gently than you likely usually do) brush your teeth a couple of times a day. Your regular toothbrush might not be soft enough while on chemo, you might want to get a supersoft one or use a baby's first toothbrush. You can also swish and spit a baking soda/water solution in your mouth a couple of times a day as this alkali solution helps to soothe minor mouth irritations.

 

 

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