Other Types Of Chemotherapy
Less commonly, chemotherapy may be given as:
- injections under the skin, known as subcutaneous chemotherapy
- injections into a muscle, known as intramuscular chemotherapy
- injections into the spine, known as intrathecal chemotherapy
During chemotherapy treatment, there are some important things to be aware of.
What Should I Wear
It is important to be comfortable. In general:
- If you have a PICC line in your arm, wear a top with short sleeves or that has sleeves that are loose enough to be pulled up past your PICC line.
- If you have a port-a-cath in your chest, wear a top with a loose-fitting neckline. You can also pull your shirt up while it is being accessed and then put your shirt back down once you are attached to your treatment.
- It may feel hot or cold in the treatment center. Think about wearing layers that are easy to take on and off with an IV line. Bring a cozy blanket if you get cold. A portable, rechargeable fan can be great if you get hot. It can also be dry, so pack a lip balm and some lotion to keep your skin and lips hydrated.
- Some treatment centers are open, with shared spaces. Try to not wear perfume or cologne. Treatment can affect the sense of smell, and you or others around you may be sensitive to smells.
Be Prepared For Loss Of Taste And Weight Loss/gain
Many people experience loss of appetite, distaste for certain foods , and a temporary metallic taste in my mouth sometimes tied to the IV chemo. So, avoid your favorite foods on chemo weeks so you don’t end up like I did hating your favorite Chinese dish for year’s to come due to nausea association.
Also, while I didn’t have a loss of appetite or metal taste I actually ended up gaining about 10 lbs during chemotherapy from the steroids and poor eating..
For someone who is normally very weight conscious and fit, this initially upset me. But my husband and doctors were actually quite pleased though. Gaining the weight actually kept me from vomiting frequently. Also, it allowed my body to process the toxins from the chemotherapy with fewer negative impacts.
My advice is simply to eat whenever you are hungry. There will be times when you are nauseous and can’t eat. So I really came to appreciate my appetite. Focus on fuelding your body with healthy foods. Also, I have more of my favorite cookbooks linked on my amazon page.
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Find A Comfortable Look
It can take some time, but I recommend trying to find a look that helps you feel comfortable. It might mean a wig, a head wrap, or the bald look. If you like wearing makeup, put some on and rock it.
For me, I loved wigs. That was my thing because even if it was just for an hour, I felt sort of like my old self again. If you need tips on finding the perfect wig, I co-wrote this article with a fellow cancer survivor friend about our experience.
We all know that cancer takes a toll on us physically. In my experience, the more we can look a bit more like our pre-cancer selves, the better. You might be surprised how far a little eyebrow pencil can go for your spirit.
Practical Hints For Menopausal Symptoms
- If you have breast cancer, we DON’T recommend hormone replacement therapy.
- Eat soy products or take vitamin E to reduce hot flashes.
- Your doctor may recommend prescription medications for hot flashes.
- Wear light cotton pajamas to help prevent overheating when sleeping.
- Use vaginal moisturizers on a regular basis or other water-based lubricants as needed, especially during and before sexual activity. These products will help with vaginal dryness and irritation.
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What Happens After Iv Chemotherapy Ends
After your treatment session ends, the nurse or another health care team member will take out your IV. If you have a port, it will stay in until you finish all of your treatments. The nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and temperature again.
Your oncologist or nurse will talk with you about what to expect with side effects. They will give you medication, tell you how to manage common side effects, and offer information such as:
Avoid people with colds or other infections. Chemotherapy weakens your body’s immune system. Your immune system helps fight infections.
Drink lots of fluids for 48 hours after chemotherapy. This helps move the drugs through your body.
Whether there are activities to do or avoid doing on future treatment days.
Before you leave your first treatment, be sure to ask who you should call with any questions or concerns and how to contact them, including after hours or weekends.
Tips For Getting Through Chemotherapy
For the past 50 years, chemotherapy has played a crucial role in the ongoing battle against cancer, providing doctors and oncologists with a means to fight cancer at the cellular level. While chemotherapy saves lives, it comes with a downside in that there are numerous side effects. These vary considerably by the type of chemotherapy, but many cancer patients experience common things such as nausea and hair loss. Here are 10 helpful tips suggested by other cancer survivors on how to be a chemotherapy warrior.
There Will Be First Chemo Treatment Side Effects
You may feel side effects of your first chemo treatment in the hours after your session. Most are temporary, but plan on resting so your body can begin the recovery process.
Chemo treatment side effectssome of which you may experience after your first treatment, others not until several sessionscan include:
- Fatigue: You may feel tired or very fatigued the day after your first treatment. This differs from tiredness that can be cured with sleep. It may feel like profound lack of energy you can’t seem to shake.
- Nausea and vomiting: It is normal to experience nausea and vomiting after chemo.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: You may be constipated or have diarrhea after chemo.
- Sore mouth: Sometimes chemo can make your mouth feel dry and sore.
- Flu-like symptoms: You may have aches and pains a few days after your first treatment that feel similar to flu symptoms.
- Insomnia: It’s common to have trouble falling asleep or to wake often at night when you’re on chemo.
- Hair loss: Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but you won’t experience it immediately after your first treatment. It usually begins 2 to 4 weeks later.
- Memory problems or problems concentrating: Chemotherapy can cause cognitive problems like short-term memory loss or trouble concentrating.
If you feel mentally foggy from the medications you’ve taken, let your healthcare provider know.
Avoid Having A Busy Schedule
Reactions to chemotherapy vary a lot from person to person. Some people feel fine quickly, while others need days to recover. Due to this range of responses, it is best to err on the side of caution for the first session and clear the schedule for a few days.
For instance, where possible, a person could look at getting child care and taking time off work. They may also wish to avoid making appointments or planning major activities for a few days after chemotherapy.
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What To Bring To Your First Chemo Treatment: 6 Tips
CaringBridge Staff | 10.10.22
Preparing for your first chemo treatment can unsurface a variety of emotions. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is stressful, let alone preparing for an intense treatment. Know that any intimidation or apprehension you feel surrounding chemo is completely normal and valid.
To help soothe any fear or nervousness you might be feeling, we asked the CaringBridge community to share their best tips on what to bring to the first chemo treatment. Knowing what to bring can help you feel more comfortable. Plus, surrounding yourself with what you know will make this new and often overwhelming experience a little less foreign.
From Lemon Juice To Plastic Forks: Quick Tricks To Deal With Cancer Treatment Side Effects
When Dr. Carla Kakutani was in the thick of her first go-round of chemotherapy, it was a struggle to figure out her daily meals. She was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer two years ago and her doctors started her on a chemo regimen with some brutal side effects.
Kakutani, a primary care doctor in Winters, California, developed oral thrush, which made her mouth so sensitive that she had a hard time eating anything with texture, and the things she could eat tasted totally different.
âI love food so this was definitely the hardest part of treatment for me,â Kakutani said. âEverything just tasted like cardboard. Sawdust.â
After trying out different foods that hurt too much to eat or didnât appeal to her temporarily scrambled taste buds , Kakutani found she could stomach cereal or graham crackers soaked in milk until they were soft and mushy.
âIt was kind of comforting, like a little kid food,â she said.
Many people with cancer, such as Kakutani, have had to come up with their own tried-and-true ways to combat cancer treatmentsâ common and difficult side effects like âchemo mouth,â nausea, fatigue, neuropathy and more.
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Make A List Of What Helps You Rise Out Of A Downer Dayand Then Do Those Things
For me the list looked like this:
- Laughter, whether through friends, entertainment, the Internet, TV, movies, books, or magazines.
- Doing something meaningful. Write or call someone you havent talked to for a while. Give a gesture gift to neighbors who are giving you rides or cooking you meals. Something as small as a cupcake can be meaningful.
- Getting together with friends.
- Getting outside the house, whether that meant a walk outside or a trip to the coffee shop
- Attending my support group at the Cancer Support Community.
- Attending an easy exercise class at the Cancer Support Community.
- Making my gratitude list.
Schedule Dental Care Before Chemo
Go to your dentist and have your teeth cleaned prior to chemo. Chemo can wreck havoc on your mouth and you will not be cleared to return to the dentist until 3-4 after your last chemotherapy session. So, this is a precaution to avoid a bacterial bloodstream infection. Biotene mouthwash and toothpaste are wonderful during chemotherapy for maintaining dental care. Also, they won’t irritate sensitive gums or mouth sores .
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How Are You Getting To Treatment
Make sure you know where to park and where to check-in when you get to the treatment center. Call and ask these questions before you go.
Your treatment team may not know how your treatment will affect you, so it is a good idea to have someone drive you to treatment and back home again, at least for the first treatment. If you are taking public transit or ride-sharing, you may also want to have someone ride along with you to make sure you get there and get home safely.
If you need help with getting to and from the treatment center, call your treatment centers social worker or navigator BEFORE your scheduled treatment day for help.
After Your First Chemotherapy Infusion
- Listen to your body. You may want to rest after chemotherapy. Drink water in small sips to avoid dehydration. Eat what you can when you can.
- Avoid contact with anything that may contain chemotherapy. Chemotherapy leaves the body through bodily fluids during the 48 hours after infusion. Ask your care team how to avoid contact with any fluids or soiled items.
- Keep a journal. Write down your medical teams’ names and the dates of chemotherapy. Between infusions, jot down how much sleep you’re getting, what you’re eating and how you’re feeling. This can help you and your team understand what works best for you.
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. The infusion team at Fox Chase is focused on helping you navigate the chemotherapy part of your journey.
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Getting Started With Chemotherapy
Once you’re in the infusion suite, the nurse will order your chemotherapy cocktail and any pre-medications that are required from the pharmacy. It usually takes at least 30 minutes for the drugs to arrive. Some of the pre-medications may be steroids, anti-nausea medications and/or anxiety medications. Each doctor will send an order to the infusion room telling them what chemotherapy and pre-medications to administer. In the meantime, your nurse will access your “Power Port” or “Port a Cath,” if you have one, or will just start an IV in your arm.Your nurse will begin with a saline solution through your IV. As soon as the medications are delivered, your nurse will hang the bags of medication on the IV stand and then start the different IVs. You’ll be given pre-medications first, then the chemotherapy.
Practical Hints For Fatigue
- Plan your activities, such as grocery shopping, for a time when you feel the best.
- If you have children, rest when they are napping. When you feel most tired, consider hiring a babysitter for a few hours so that you can relax or take a nap.
- Take naps early in the day so you do not disturb your sleep pattern at night.
- Consider exercising every day or several times a week. Good forms of exercise include swimming, walking and yoga. Contact the Patient and Family Cancer Support Center for information on free exercise classes.
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Not All Chemo Treatments Cause Hair Loss:
It is a myth among people that if they are going for chemotherapy treatment, they will face hair loss. But don’t worry because not all chemo drugs are the same and contribute to it. It all depends on the combination of drugs your doctor is giving you. The side effects include pain, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes hair loss as well. Therefore, it is not right to say that with chemotherapy you will get hair loss as a gift.
What Happens Before Chemotherapy
Each chemotherapy treatment plan is created to meet a patient’s unique needs. But before treatment starts, you can expect to take these general steps.
Meet with your oncologist. The doctor will look over your medical records and do a physical exam. You will also have tests done to help plan treatment. Your exact treatment depends on the type, size, and location of the cancer. Your doctor will also consider your age, your general health, and other factors, such as previous cancer treatments.
Learn about your chemotherapy treatment schedule. Your health care team will explain when and how often you need chemotherapy. Most chemotherapy treatments are given in repeating cycles. The length of a cycle depends on the drug you receive. Most cycles range from 2 to 6 weeks. The number of treatment doses scheduled within each cycle also depends on the prescribed chemotherapy.
For example, each cycle may contain only 1 dose on the first day. Or, a cycle may contain more than 1 dose given each week or each day. Often, your doctor will check if the treatment is working after you finish 2 cycles. Most people have several cycles of chemotherapy. Sometimes, chemotherapy treatment is ongoing as a maintenance therapy.
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Women Magazine Inspired This Book
Roxanne Brown was inspired in part to write Chemo: Secrets to Thriving after discovering a practical tip in an issue of Women. As she browsed through the magazine in her doctors waiting room, she read an article by a breast cancer patient who had found that placing a paper towel between her scalp and her wig provided salvation from the irritation and the perspiration that can be a challenge for patients who choose to wear wigs after experiencing treatment-related hair loss. Roxanne tried the trick herself and found it very helpful, though she noticed that very few patients she questioned had heard about the technique. The experience led her to begin compiling other similarly helpful tips, and in this way Chemo: Secrets to Thriving was borncreated to offer patients simple, inexpensive advice that make a real difference to those undergoing chemotherapy.
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.
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Eat Light Ahead Of Time
Two to three hours before an infusion, eat a light, high-fiber snack.
Chemo drugs tend to slow the movement of your digestive tract , so whatever you eat may be in your system for longer than usual. This often causes difficult bowel movements.
The drugs commonly used to prevent nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy can also be constipating. Between staying hydrated and eating fiber, you should gain the upper hand on constipation.
During Your First Chemotherapy Infusion
Plan to spend the day at the hospital or treatment center. When you arrive, a healthcare provider will check your vital signs, height and weight. Youll probably have blood drawn as well. This information helps the healthcare team provide the proper dose of chemotherapy drugs.
Expect to wait after your initial tests and blood draw. Chemotherapy medication cannot be prepared in advance it must be mixed to exact specifications and that takes time.
When the healthcare team is ready, youll be settled in an infusion area. A nurse will access your catheter or port or insert an IV and may administer some IV fluids and medication. If you have any questions about whats happening, ask. Staff members want you to feel comfortable and informed.
Your chemotherapy drugs will be administered through your IV, port or catheter. You might not feel anything unusual at all, or you may experience a flushed feeling or metallic taste in your mouth. Depending on your specific treatment protocol, additional medications that prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting may also be administered. Report any symptoms to your nurse. She or he will be watching you closely anyway, especially during your first treatment. In fact, expect to stay awhile after your infusion is complete. Staff wont let you go home until theyre sure youre feeling OK.
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