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Couple of ?s before 1st chemo

pamysue's picture
Posts: 105
Joined: May 2008

I start chemo on Thursday and keep thinking of things I didn't ask my Dr on the phone. It can take days to get a return call from them and I seem to find better information here, so hoping someone can help me.

1. My appt is at 1:00pm. Is it ok to eat that day? He didn't say anything about fasting or clear liquids, but are you better to go with something on your stomach? My ileostomy gets very active if my belly does not have food in it.

2. I'll be coming home with a fanny pack for 48 hours. Someone will come to the house and disconnect it on Saturday. Can I shower with this on? Or do I need to shower before I go and then get gross? My skin gets very cranky if I don't shower everyday.

Thanks in advance for any advice. I'm very nervous not knowing how my body is going to react to this. Pretty scared actually.

StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1250
Joined: Mar 2003

Here's what I remember:

The first day is more nerves playing on you than the chemo. Granted, I never had any side effects at all, but everyone is different. Regardless, though, I don't believe I have ever heard anyone feeling badly on the first treatment. You can eat whatever you want, but I purposely avoided my favorite foods on chemo days. I didn't want to end up hating them or associating them with chemo/cancer/etc. Plan on drinking a lot of water to flush the chemo from your system. The sooner it goes through you, the better you will feel. Chemo will create more activity with the ileostomy. Think of it this way, chemo is a liquid, and it's travelling through your body, taking prisoners along the way. At some point, it needs out.

Showering is not a problem. You'll want to buy one of those shower heads on a hose kinda thing. You cannot get the chemo fanny pack wet, or the accessed port. Showering will be similar to a wet game of "Twister" (remember that game as a kid?). You'll just want to have the fanny pack sit on the side of the tub while you shower, being careful to not get it or the accessed port site wet.

I hope I helped. Just typing this took me back to my chemo days (6 weeks prior to surgery and 6 months after it), and I KNOW YOU WILL DO JUST FINE!

Let me know if you need anything else,



pamysue's picture
Posts: 105
Joined: May 2008

Thanks for your reply, Stacy.

Most of my fav foods are off limits with this ileostomy, so I shouldn't have to worry about that at least. Good tip on the water.

I will have to get a new showerhead. I know the kind you are talking about. I have a separate tub & shower, so there is lots of room in there and some nifty shelves.

Thanks again and for the words of encouragement!

jenhopesprays's picture
Posts: 129
Joined: Sep 2007

Pamysue - Be sure to eat breakfast and lunch and bring snacks. My favorite is 2 eggs overeasy with a piece of whole wheat toast. Just eat what sounds appetizing. Eating keeps the nausua down. My nurse had me bring snacks.

They will probably give you zofran which is an anti nausea med. It causes me to be constipated. So...miralax helped and stool softeners. I don't take it anymore because it stopped working on me.

When I shower I hang the pump on a coat hanger on the shower bar. I use saran rap over my shoulder and tape it down. At first I used masking tape but have progressed to medical tape. It works fine for me.

Its nice to take a computer or dvd player with you to escape. I do this every time.

I am currently on my pump and have 1 more chemo round . YEAH!

You will do just great! And this too shall pas.


Posts: 513
Joined: Nov 2007

Yes, go ahead and eat before you go, they will probably offer you food while you are there. I used to eat during chemo. They will give you zolfran or amend (or in my case both). For nausea. I used to take a bath the days I had my port connected. I just put the pack on the side of the tub and didn't get the port wet. I prefer showers but I found it was easier - it was only 2 days. I was really nervous before my first chemo, but mostly you just sit around. Bring some entertainment - magazine, book, dvd, friends - it will be behind you before you know it. Make sure you go over anything you have questions about with your chemo nurse, they can give you great advice on controlling nausea, diahrrea, constipation, etc. Since you will be there for a while it's a great time to ask questions.


jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

I was terrified, too. I did not use a fanny pack, just the old fashioned infusion, so I can't help there. Ditto to Stacy's advice about drinking water: before, during and after the treatment. It took a few treatments before I felt any side effects, mostly loss of appetite and fatigue, but each person is very different. You will get through this, as we all do, one treatment at a time. Be very nice to yourself and accept all offers of support from good people.
(We went out for Thai food the night after my first chemo, which I still find hard to believe!) Best of luck, Judy

pamysue's picture
Posts: 105
Joined: May 2008

The laptop and portable DVD player are such great ideas. I'll have to see if they have WiFi. I think I'll stick with my book for the 1st visit and a dear friend is taking me and will be there the whole time. I have to have a 2nd pair of ears or I forget 1/2 of what they tell me it seems. Did any of you ever drive yourselves or does someone always need to take you to chemo?

I have a high output ostomy, so we're hoping for more of a constipation effect than a diarrehea effect. (If only I got to choose.) But I'm sure I can take more Imodium. It will seem like a meal soon.

Jennifer, I am so happy to hear you are almost done! It's inspirational and reminds me there is an end of the tunnel even if I don't see the light yet. Good luck!

I am writing a list of questions for the Dr/Nurses. I have found that I get the best information from RNs. I will also stock up on water. Really hope the 'cold' thing won't be too bad and I won't have to drink it at room temperature.

Thank you all so much for your responses!

apache4's picture
Posts: 272
Joined: Jul 2007

Re: the driving yourself...I have driven myself to all chemo treatments for two years. Granted, I haven't had to drive for more then 1/2 hour and the route is easy. I can be accused of being too independent,but it makes me feel great to still be OK. I had the pump for a total of 23 treatments between Folfox and Folfiri and aside from being tired, had no major issues. I know you will do well. dx.6/06 Stage IV colon,mets to liver

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

Eating should be ok as long as you don't stuff yourself in case you should get nauseated. Usually I tolerated it ok but didn't have a real big appetite. Eat whatever you tolerate. I found bananas to go quite well.
I showered by covering the port site with saran wrap which I taped on all four sides but still tried to avoid having the spray hit it directly. I had an IV pole on the other side of the shower to hang my fanny pack on. It is awkward but worked.
Good luck, Dick

KierstenRx's picture
Posts: 249
Joined: Nov 2006

I agree with everyones advice here. I would eat like a viking the first day of chemo. They would give me high doses of steriods and benadryl before treatment. I also took a portable DVD player or books with me. I sometimes would just talk to other patients. We all would have treatment at the same time and became friends.

Definitely shower. The tricks suggested by others should work. There is no need to feel gross.

Also, this doesn't work for everyone, but in about 30% of people Zofran (for nausea/vomiting) causes constipation. I never once had diarrhea during my entire treatment. I would take the Zofran three times daily starting the day of treament and for about 5 days after. I have a colostomy that was pretty active and that would slow things up significantly.

I know you are scared and nervous, but everything is going to be ok. We have all been there. The first treatment is not bad, I think I built it up in my head to be a lot worse than it was. Just keep your onc aware of any problems you are experiencing. Also in my expereince the Aloxi and Zofran were not enough to keep my nausea under control so they added Ativan. That made things much better.

Take care and I will be praying for you.


jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

All advice here is great! I want to add that I ate during chemo because I was there for about 6 or 7 hours, but you might want to be careful about the smell of food that might bother other patients.
The fanny pack makes a clicking noise similar to a digital camera when you take a picture. I put my pack in the nightstand drawer and pushed it almost closed. This worked very well so that my husband and I didn't have to listen to it all night.
Jo Ann

kristasplace's picture
Posts: 956
Joined: Oct 2007

Hi Pamy! Like everyone else said, everyone is different. I am currently recieving my adjuvant chemo folfox 6 for stage 3B rectal, and during my infusion, they give me decadron which is a sterioid, and prevents vomiting. It supposedly works for five days, though they give me pills to take of it for the first three days after infusion. I don't take them because the infused decadron seems to keep my nausea in check. Once in a while i have to take a compazine, but i have not yet thrown up! Diarhea is a problem for me too. I never know when i'm going to get it since i a have an ileostomy as well. I'm not sure if it's the decadron, or the chemo itself that has given me the appetite of a horse, yet my output is not real bad.

As far as showering? I just hang my fanny pack on a towel rack, or over the side of the tub, and don't even bother covering up my port. The main reason i shower is to wash my hair, and it's just too difficult to worry about the port. I haven't had any problems.

Good luck with your first treatment! Like the others have said, you will get through it, even if it does get rougher. It's just something we have to do.

Many hugs,

pamysue's picture
Posts: 105
Joined: May 2008

We're getting ready to go here in a bit and I just came back in to re-read your messages. You have given me strength and I'm not nearly as nervous as I was before I started this post.

Your advice is awesome. I've learned from this board and the Ostomy board I read that no doctor or nurse can give advice as good as someone who has been there/done that. I appreciate you all and am praying for all of our recoveries. Will let you know how it goes.

winediva's picture
Posts: 26
Joined: Jun 2008

Hi all! This is my first post. yea!
I just got unteathered from my chemo "fanny pack o' 5FU fun" a few hours ago. I had my first chemo treatment on Wed and so far have had no major nausea or anything horrible. Just a mild headache the first night, and the weird sensitivity to cold. Guess I'll be drinking red all summer.

Anyhoo, as a newbie I thought you might like to know that in my case, the side effects did not intensify or get worse over the 3 days. If anything, they got easier.
Stay in touch Pamysue. We can be chemo pals.

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