Sunday, March 3, 2024

Prepare Home For Chemo Patient

Chemotherapy Is An Individual Experience

Preparing for Chemotherapy Treatment

Every person experiences chemotherapy differently, both physically and emotionally. Each person experiences side effects from chemotherapy differently, and different chemotherapy drugs cause different side effects. Fortunately, as the science of cancer treatment has advanced, so has the science of managing treatment side effects.

Whatever you experience, remember there is no relationship between how the chemotherapy makes you feel and whether you derive benefit from it.

Many people feel fine for the first few hours following chemotherapy. Usually, some reaction occurs about four to six hours later. However, some people don’t react until 12 or even 24 to 48 hours after treatment. Some people experience almost all of the side effects described below, while others experience almost none.

We have many treatments to help you deal with side effects. Please let us know how you are feeling so we can address your concerns and help make you more comfortable.

Your well-being is very important to us. There is a delicate balance between the benefits of chemotherapy and the harm of possible side effects. Please tell your doctor if you feel that the harm outweighs the benefit.

Tracking Your Side Effects Is Helpful

If you have side effects from chemotherapy that are bothersomesuch as nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, rash, swelling, or unusual pain around the injection siteyour healthcare team should be aware of them as soon as possible.

They will want to know how often you’re having problems, how severe they are, and how you’re coping with them.

It can be helpful to write down any symptoms you experience right after a treatment. Have a dedicated note in your smartphone or a notebook you can keep on hand for this purpose.

Ensure Safe And Easy Venous Access

Your oncologist may suggest you have a central venous catheter inserted prior to your first chemotherapy infusion. Having a CVC makes it easier to put medicine, blood products, nutrients, or fluids directly into your bloodstream. The most common CVCs are peripherally inserted central catheters and ports. A PICC line is inserted into a large vein. Ports are inserted under the skin in your chest or upper arm by a surgeon or radiologist. Both can stay in for the duration of your chemotherapy. Ask your oncologist about the risks and benefits of each and which, if any, CVC is best for you.

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Six Ways To Prepare Yourself For Chemo

In 2015, Beth W. was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. After receiving her initial treatment at another facility, she sought out a second opinion at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® , where she eventually underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgerya nine-month treatment plan. For the past six years, Beths scans have shown no evidence of disease, and today, she serves in our Cancer Fighters program, helping other patients through their cancer journey with tips, advice and peer support. One aspect she gets the most questions about is how she dealt with chemotherapy. Here are the six ways she says she prepared for her treatments and the side effects they caused.

  • Understand how chemotherapy works and why some people may experience side effects. This is important because you may think something is wrong during treatment when its really the medication working. After you feel bad for so many months during chemotherapy, its hard to believe the nausea, diarrhea and fatigue will ever end. They do!
  • Compare and contrast each drug. If all the cancer drugs show nausea as a side effect, prepare for nausea. If all the cancer drugs show fatigue as a side effect, prepare for fatigue. This way, you can have a levelheaded discussion with your care team ahead of treatment on how to combat common side effects.
  • Hygiene And Personal Care

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    Good hygiene and personal care helps to lower the risk of infection in immunosuppressed patients.

    As a caregiver, wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently, especially before handling food or assisting your loved one with any tasks. Encourage visitors to the home or people interacting with the patient to do the same. You can also use liquid or gel hand sanitizer to keep hands clean.

    Your loved one may also need to modify his or her hygiene habits.

    Read the PDF, Caregiving During Treatment, for guidelines for proper skin, nail, dental, and hair care for a patient in treatment.

    Related Links

    The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® is a global leader in the fight against cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

    The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a 501 organization, and all monetary donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by tax laws. Please check with your financial advisor if you have more questions. Tax Identification Number: 13-5644916

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    Cleaning The Home Safely

    You may need to help to keep the house clean. A clean home lowers the risk of infection for the patient.

    Many household cleaners contain toxic ingredients. Always follow the directions on the products bottle or box. Cleaners that are not properly wiped or washed away could irritate the skin or be accidentally ingested. Strong fumes can irritate eyes and make breathing difficult. Patients undergoing chemotherapy may also be sensitive to the strong smells of cleaning products.

    You dont have to spend a lot of money for safe cleaning supplies. Vinegar and baking soda are nontoxic items that most of us already have in our homes, and they make effective and affordable cleaners.

    • Mix baking soda and water into a paste to clean the oven and tackle toilet stains.
    • Mix vinegar and water to clean mirrors, windows and floors.
    • Mix ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, and ½ gallon of water for a safe cleaner.

    The following cleaning tips will help to keep you and your loved one safe:

    • Avoid products with chlorine, ammonia, synthetic solvents and artificial fragrances and dyes.
    • Use fragrance-free laundry detergent.

    Keeping Loved Ones Safe

    • Chemotherapy leaves the body through urine, stool, vomit and blood. Follow these safety tips to protect you and your family during chemotherapy and for 48 hours after your treatment ends:
    • When you go to the bathroom, flush the toilet twice after youre done, with the lid down. If possible, use a separate bathroom.
    • Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet or cleaning up body fluids.
    • Clean bedpans, urinals, commodes or basins with soap and water, while wearing disposable gloves.
    • Wash any laundry with body fluids or chemotherapy on it with warm water and separately from other clothing and laundry.
  • Always keep oral chemotherapy medicine away from children and pets.
  • Pregnant women, or women planning on becoming pregnant, should not handle these medications.
  • If you are sexually active, be sure to practice safe sex during your entire course of treatment, and use barrier protection like condoms.
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    What When And Why

    Every chemotherapy infusion includes a mix of drugs. Some are cancer-killing drugs, while others are medications that help ease side effects.

    If you’re not already clear about the answers to the following questions about all of the drugs you will receive, ask your healthcare provider:

    • What is this medication?
    • How does it help kill cancer cells?
    • What side effects may it have?
    • How will I feel after taking the medication?
    • How should I cope with it?
    • Who do I call if I have problems?

    While some infusions take minutes, others take hours. A course may take days or weeks. Ask how you should plan for the treatments that await you.

    Practical Hints For Mouth Sores

    Having chemotherapy for breast cancer – patient guide
    • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush three times daily.
    • Rinse your mouth with a solution of one teaspoon baking soda and one teaspoon of salt, diluted in a glass of lukewarm water, three or four times daily.
    • Most commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol. Ask your health care provider about mouthwashes that are not irritating to your mouth.
    • Ulcer-ease is a commercial product that may provide temporary relief from sores.

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    How Do I Manage My Relationships During Chemotherapy

    Family members, friends, and even close co-workers may have difficult days too. At times, they may feel especially worried or stressed by your diagnosis and your treatment. A cancer diagnosis can change family dynamics, roles, and priorities.

    Social activities and everyday tasks that seemed important before may seem less so now. Spouses and children may find themselves as caregivers. They may need to help around the house in ways they werent used to doing before.

    Its important to remember that caregivers and other family members, particularly children, may need extra support too. Read our Healthline News story about children whose parents have cancer.

    How Do I Care For My Children During Chemotherapy

    Breast cancer treatment and related side effects may be especially challenging for women with children living at home. You may worry about how your diagnosis and treatment will affect your children.

    You may wonder how much you should share with your children. This will probably depend on their ages. Younger children may not need as many details as older children. But children of all ages will realize something is wrong, whether you tell them or not.

    The recommends that kids of all ages be told the basics. This includes:

    • what type of cancer you have
    • where in the body its located
    • what will happen with your treatment
    • how you expect your lives to change

    Caring for children is a challenge on a good day. It can be especially hard when youre struggling with your own anxiety, fatigue, or other side effects of cancer treatment. Consider ways you might get help with child care responsibilities when you need it.

    Talk with your doctors and nurses. Also talk with social workers, psychologists, and others, especially if youre a single parent and lack support at home. They can help you find other resources.

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    Chemotherapys Importance After Surgery

    Chemotherapy after surgery is called adjuvant chemotherapy. This chemotherapy is used to continue killing any osteosarcoma cells that may be left in the body after surgery. These cells could remain due to poor surgical margins . More commonly, there are cancerous cells moving through the blood to other areas of the body. These cancerous cells get into the bloodstream via the blood vessels that feed the tumor. These microscopic, malignant cells, called micro-metastases, are present in the majority of patients at the time of diagnosis. The adjuvant chemotherapy is used to kill these cells and prevent any further metastases from taking hold in another bone or the lungs. Since the addition of adjuvant chemotherapy to osteosarcoma treatment, the relapse rates have decreased. So, while chemotherapy is difficult, it is very necessary to keep the osteosarcoma from returning

    It’s Helpful To Bring A Chemo Buddy

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    You definitely don’t have to go to your first chemo appointment alone. In fact, there are many reasons to have a “chemo buddy” with you for this session and future ones.

    First, you might also be prescribed medication to take before chemo. Having someone drive you to your session can be helpful if the medication makes you tired.

    Bringing a friend or family member means you have someone there who can focus on taking notes on instructions you are given and remembering questions you wanted to ask.

    They can also help you pass the time, which can be particularly helpful for lengthy treatments.

    And while you will be monitored throughout your treatment, the team won’t have eyes on you the entire time. A chemo buddy can keep a close eye out for reactions, like a rash or facial flushing, and inform healthcare providers immediately should they occur.

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    Practice Stress Relief Exercises

    Relaxation techniques or practices may help with symptoms of anxiety. Practicing yoga has been shown to be especially beneficial for cancer patients. Meditation is another relaxation technique that can give you a sense of calm by focusing your attention to eliminate stressful thoughts. Other types of relaxation techniques that might help are hypnosis, massage, tai chi, music therapy, and aromatherapy.

    Everyday Life During Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy can affect you physically and emotionally. Most people have ups and downs during treatment, but support is available.

    Some people find they can lead an almost normal life during chemotherapy. But others find everyday life more difficult.

    You may feel unwell during and shortly after each treatment but recover quickly between treatments. You may be able to get back to your usual activities as you begin to feel better.

    As well as feeling unwell physically, it’s not unusual for people to feel up and down emotionally. You may find you have good and bad days.

    You might feel tired during chemotherapy. This is perfectly normal. It can be caused by:

    • the drugs themselves and your body fighting the cancer
    • not being able to eat properly
    • a drop in your red cell count
    • having a lower white cell count than usual your immune system is having to work harder

    Feeling tired all the time can be difficult if you’re used to having a lot of energy. But if youre over tired, you might be more likely to feel sick and generally find it harder to cope.

    So don’t fight your tiredness listen to your body and rest if you need to.

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    Understand The Extent Of Cancer Care They Require

    Learning about the level of cancer care your loved one requires and what you can give. If your loved one requires support with tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, or moving from one place to another? Do you need to monitor the medication dosage? If your loved one requires treatments and other therapies or professional care?

    Are There Any Health Or Safety Concerns For The Family

    Preparing for Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy leaves you more vulnerable to infection. Its a good idea for family members to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick and affecting your health.

    Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, keep hand sanitizer available, and have guests remove their shoes before entering your home. Keep household surfaces clean, and take caution in food preparation and cooking.

    If a family member does become ill, avoid close contact until they get better.

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    How To Prepare Your Home

    For starters, you should wash your hands often and stay away from crowds. You should also:

    Disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot. You can use soap and water first. Thatâll lower the number of germs. Follow that up with a disinfectant. Thatâs a cleaner that can kill the viruses and bacteria left behind. You may want to keep bleach or sanitizing wipes around your house. Use gloves when you clean.

    You may be more sensitive to smells if youâre in chemotherapy. Strong odors from cleaning supplies might make you feel sick. Always open windows and doors while you clean. You can also ask a family member or friend to do some of the disinfecting for you.

    You or someone else should disinfect items like these once a day:

    • Tables and countertops

    Disinfect these items once a week:

    Flush the toilet two times when you use the bathroom the first 2-3 days after treatment. While wearing gloves, clean the toilet seat if you get pee on it. Do the same thing if you vomit. Chemo drugs can come out in your body fluids. They may bother your skin or someone elseâs.

    Get a thermometer. Youâll want to check your temperature anytime you feel too hot, too cold, or generally unwell. Tell your doctor right away if you get a fever.

    Keep extra face masks. If you have a visitor, ask them to cover their nose and mouth with a cloth face mask. You can wear one too. This extra barrier may slow the spread of infections.

    Get rid of fresh flowers or live plants. They could bring germs into the house.

    Bring Someone With You

    We recommend bringing a family member or friend to your chemotherapy appointments especially the first one. Your oncology nurse will cover a lot of information, which can be hard to process all on your own. Therefore, its a good idea to have a second set of ears and some company during your chemotherapy treatment. Also, this will be the first time to receive chemo drugs, and theres no way to know how youll feel after your treatment. You may be too tired to drive home, or you might feel sick. Its always a good idea to enlist support these days as often as possible.

    Unfortunately, due to COVID, weve had to limit visitors to our clinics. Patients are welcome to bring one visitor to their first appointment with their oncologist. However, visitors cannot be allowed into the clinic for follow-up appointments or for treatments, such as chemotherapy. Our cancer care team recommends that patients still be driven to and from their first chemotherapy treatment. Patients can then determine if they will be able to drive themselves to their remaining treatments.

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    Managing Symptoms And Side Effects

    The person you are caring for may have different symptoms or treatment side effects. Their cancer doctor, specialist nurse or palliative care team can prescribe drugs or give advice on managing these. Always tell them if side effects or symptoms do not improve.

    If the person you are caring for is having treatment, such as chemotherapy or other drugs, it is very important to follow the advice that the healthcare team gave you. For example, you may have been told to contact the hospital directly on a 24-hour number if they have a temperature or feel unwell.

    We have more information about different cancer treatments and their side effects. Understanding more about this can help you support the person you are caring for.

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