Ten Things I Wish My Doctor Told Me About Chemotherapy

Updated on April 26, 2017
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When I went through chemotherapy, I had to figure out some critical things for myself. I learned through research and trial and error.

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Cancer Diagnosis: Shock and Fear

There is no real way to describe the shock and fear I felt when I learned I had ovarian cancer. After a first and second opinion at Yale and Sloan Kettering, coupled with my own research, I realized that chemotherapy was the best way for me to proceed (followed by my own comprehensive plan to build a bionic immune system). My doctor gave me little information regarding the side effects of chemotherapy, instead expecting me to formulate my own questions. In my state of shock and fear and with no knowledge whatsoever about chemotherapy I was supposed to think of questions? Really??

Somehow I found the courage to show up to my first chemotherapy session at Sloan Kettering. It was in the middle of possibly one of the worst snowstorms ever in New York, so I had to stay overnight in New York City. Many people rescheduled so there were more nurses than patients for my first time, which never happened again there.

The nurse was kind and told me not to be nervous, but the one thing my doctor had told me was that some people can have a negative reaction to the chemo (though she assured me they could handle it). Soon I was hooked up to the IV, desperately hoping I wouldn't have a negative reaction (which I didn't).

While I was thinking I could still run away and never come back, I was finally handed a pamphlet with a list of all the possible short-term and long-term side effects of my chemotherapy. I don't know how they expected me to process the information at that time! I finally read it over the next few days at home, but found that there weren't any practical tips to get through my treatment.

I managed to get through all six chemo sessions over 3-1/2 months without any permanent side effects—and without missing any scheduled sessions due to short-term issues. However, I spent all this time frantically trying to catch up on my research to minimize the risks and side effects. My focus now is on strengthening my immune system, but I would like to share some tips that I hope can help someone else who is preparing for chemotherapy.

What to Bring to Chemo:

  • iPod with your favorite music
  • Kindle with a variety of books that you enjoy and make you laugh
  • Pictures of people that love and support you
  • Warm socks
  • Favorite magazines
  • Lotion for your hands and feet
  • Cards and gifts from family and friends to open
  • ANYTHING DISTRACTING to prevent boredom
  • A good friend for support and to make the time go faster

10 Things I Wish My Doctor Told Me About Chemo

Eat numerous vegetables after chemo to rebuild your immune system.
Eat numerous vegetables after chemo to rebuild your immune system. | Source

1. Avoid raw fish and vegetables.

Chemotherapy can decrease your body's ability to fight even everyday bacteria, so avoid raw fish, uncooked vegetables, fruits without a peel. soft cheeses, and undercooked meat or eggs. Cooked vegetables are fine.

2. Be aware of the side effects of steroids.

Steroids (usually used to prevent a reaction to the chemotherapy) can make you feel crazy. It took two cycles for me to discover that withdrawal from the steroids was causing me to feel extreme irritability and suicidal depression, sometimes simultaneously. If you feel any crazy emotions, discuss them with your doctor. My doctor lowered my dosage, which reduced some of the withdrawal symptoms.

3. Use a safe mouthwash.

I used Biotene mouthwash many times a day and brushed and flossed regularly. Biotene is specially formulated to reduce "dry mouth." It is important to minimize any bacteria in the mouth to avoid mouth sores, which can be extremely painful and difficult to heal during chemo.

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4. Consider fasting.

Side effects result when chemotherapy kills healthy cells along with the cancer cells. After my first session, I found a study indicating that fasting before, during, and after chemotherapy can reduce the effects of chemo on healthy cells, without reducing it's effectiveness against cancer cells. The basic idea is that healthy, normal cells listen to your body's instructions to slow down growth due to the fasting, but cancer cells continue growing normally. Even now the results of the study are not yet released, but research is still being conducted at the Mayo Clinic. My doctor advised against fasting, mainly because studies had not been completed, but I did it anyway. I feel like fasting was one of the main reasons I got through my treatment without any serious side effects (other than hair loss). Some more research is discussed here: Benefits of Fasting During Chemotherapy.

Exposure to numerous germs during chemo can be risky. There will still be many fun events to attend when chemo is over.
Exposure to numerous germs during chemo can be risky. There will still be many fun events to attend when chemo is over. | Source

5. Avoid public places.

Avoid public places as much as possible, especially doctors' offices and places with large crowds. When I did go out in public I brought Purell along as my new best friend. This happened in the middle of one of the worst winters I could recall, and during the cold and flu season. I took this very seriously and stayed home a lot - yes, at times it got extremely boring. The biggest challenge was not getting near the kids when they were sick. Fortunately my husband was able to work at home any time the children needed to be taken care of.

Research the foods that can help you compensate for any nutrients that are depleted during chemo.
Research the foods that can help you compensate for any nutrients that are depleted during chemo. | Source

6. Compensate for nutritional deficiencies.

Find out what nutritional deficiencies can result from your type of chemotherapy, and research what foods can be used to compensate. For example, my type of chemotherapy resulted in the loss of magnesium so I ate spinach, beans, and nuts to compensate. I also was terrified of neuropathy because a high percentage of people got this on a temporary or permanent basis. I ate foods rich in Vitamin B and protein such as beans, chicken, and whole grain bread to compensate. I heard nurses giving people bags of magnesium at the end of treatment if their blood tests showed they were depleted, but I always tested fine in my magnesium levels. I never once heard a doctor or a nurse advising the patients to supplement their diet, which I never understood. Why not at least inform people of food choices that might be beneficial and let them decide?

Only allow those that are sincere and will be a real benefit to you on your team during chemo.
Only allow those that are sincere and will be a real benefit to you on your team during chemo. | Source

7. Accept help.

Don't hesitate to accept help when friends offer, but make sure it is help that will be beneficial for you. I turned down some offers that would have been more of an effort for me than a benefit. This isn't the time to worry about offending people or following society's rules. This is a time to focus on your health and safety, so you can ultimately be there for those that you care about.

Any type of exercise such as walking will help fight the fatigue that chemo can cause.
Any type of exercise such as walking will help fight the fatigue that chemo can cause. | Source

8. Exercise!

Try to exercise to minimize fatigue. Exercise can be a walk with a friend or yoga at home. Before chemotherapy I was able to bench press more than my body weight and do more pull ups than many guys (not to brag!) but after my surgery and during treatment I could barely do any exercise, and could only work out for 20 minutes. It is important to lower your expectations and accept that some exercise is better than none, rather than having unrealistic goals.

9. Use a cold cap.

Consider using cold caps to avoid hair loss. They work on a similar philosophy to fasting, basically by slowing down the growth of hair follicles to they don't absorb the chemicals during treatment. They were still very new, and not approved by my doctor at the time I went through treatment. Furthermore, I didn't hear about them until after my first session, so it would have been too late for me to save my hair. But recently I have noticed brochures in the doctors' offices.

Don't be pressured to buy a wig during the consultation. Go before you lose your hair so you can think about it and shop around.
Don't be pressured to buy a wig during the consultation. Go before you lose your hair so you can think about it and shop around. | Source

10. Buy only one wig.

Take a friend or spouse with you when shopping for a wig and buy it before you lose your hair. Buy only one wig so you have time to see if you will use it at all. Don't be manipulated by people who want to make money knowing you are in shock and vulnerable.

I have a law degree, not a medical degree—so always check with your doctor before making any medical decisions (but don't blindly trust your doctor either). Always remember that the doctors, friends, and support system you select to help you through chemotherapy are your team: you are the team leader, so ultimately any decisions are yours to make. If you or someone you love is going through chemotherapy my heart goes out to you and I hope this helps. Cheers to good health!

Questions & Answers

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      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 6 weeks ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Jo,

        The goal of the appointment probably will be to discuss the strategy. If you have questions it helps to write them down so you don't get overwhelmed. Definitely check with your doctor and do your own research regarding the fasting as it may not be a safe option. Please keep me updated and I will be thinking of you and sending plenty of healing energy your way. Amy

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        Jo H 7 weeks ago

        Thank you for sharing your journey. I have just been diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal cancer and am terrified. I have my first oncology appointment next week and assume this is to discuss treatment, side effects etc. I will follow your suggestions and ask about fasting but as a Type 1 diabetic, it may not be for me. I'll let you know how I get on but please send encouragement!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Wishing you much strength during your journey! Let me know how you are doing.

        Amy

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        Margaret Surowka 2 months ago

        Such a great way to start my journy of breast cancer thanks for the help

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Debbie,

        I'm glad my article made you feel a little more in control. Anything new is scary the first time but there are many things you can do to make the journey a little easier. I'm glad you caught it early and I'm sending you strength and healing from Connecticut. Please let me know how you are doing.

        Amy

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        Debbie 2 months ago

        Thank you for this informative post! I will be getting my port put in this week and start my chemo treatment for breast cancer the following week. I'm so lucky I caught it early, I'm stage I but still need to do Chemo and radiation. I'm scared as hell, but with your post, feel a little more in control! Hope you are doing well!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 3 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Carol,

        Magnesium infusions definitely help if you are unable to take in food and it sounds like it was really important in your situation with a 70 pound weight loss. I'm glad you also made it through with no neuropathy. I'm happy to help if it makes someone else's journey a little easier. A big congratulations on getting to that two year point! I wish you continued health!!

      • profile image

        Carol 3 months ago

        I was one of those patients getting the bags of magnesium. Had to have magnesium infusions weekly, sometimes twice a week. My problem was that I was so naseous that I couldn't eat much so I wasn't getting any nutrition. I lost almost 70 lbs during my 6 months of chemo. I'm so glad you could eat healthy food that helped you. I was very lucky and didn't get neuropathy either, but did lose all my hair. I agree with you - the port is the only way to go. Can by used for everything that needs to be infused and can be used for blood draws too. Glad you're doing well now. I'm about to celebrate two years since my last infusion (January 13, 2016). I was one of the lucky ones!! Thank you for helping folks that have questions and not enough answers.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 3 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Shirley,

        I'm so glad you found the information helpful! I used the port. I don't have many useful veins to begin with and it preserved the few good veins I have and eliminated the risk of a vein rupturing during chemo. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I wish you well during your journey.

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        shirley beauchamp 3 months ago

        Thank you so much. and yes , you are right they do not tell you everything. Your info has been so helpful. I need to read more on the immune system. What is your outlook on the Chemo Port? My veins are shot.

        This is truly helpful.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 4 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        I fasted three days before the chemo, the day of chemo and 24 hours after the day of chemo I ate but you have to be careful when you start eating to eat things that don't cause a glucose spike in order not to stress the liver.

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        Amy 4 months ago

        How long did you wait to eat after fasting from the chemo since you fasted before, during and after?

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 5 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Crystal,

        I'm so happy you found this information helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. I wish your mother in law the best!

      • profile image

        Crystal H 5 months ago

        Hi, I found this article on Pinterest looking for practical help for my recently diagnosed mother in law. This was a very useful and helpful article. Thanks so much for sharing your top 10 tips for success. I sincerely hope that you are feeling well these days.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 6 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Sylvia,

        Thank you for your kind words. Sending strength and healing to your daughter!

        Amy

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        Sylvia 6 months ago

        I know this will help my daughter...thank you for all your research

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 7 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Barb,

        Thank you so much for your kind words! Many of my tips apply to most types of chemo. I am happy you found the information helpful. I am doing great and sending you strength and healing! I will be thinking of you and please keep me posted on your progress. Thank you for the good wishes,

        Amy

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        Barb 7 months ago

        YOU ... are WONDERFUL! I just started chemo this week for lymphoma. Many of your suggestions are written up for lymphoma patients as well. I pray you're doing great and THANK YOU for sharing your story and your advice!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 7 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thank you Steven!

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        Steven 7 months ago

        Thank you for this. Love and blessings.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 7 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Susan, I'm glad you found this information helpful. Good luck to you!! Amy

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        Susan 7 months ago

        Thank you for all the information. This will be helpful.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 8 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Joanne,

        Thank you for the good wishes! I'm sending much strength, love, and healing your way. I'm glad the information was helpful.

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        Joanne little 8 months ago

        I recently under went a double mastectomy. Your information is appreciated. Thank you. Much love and blessings to you and your family.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 9 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Vivek,

        I'm so happy you found this information helpful and even happier that you are cured!! Thank you so much for your comment.

      • profile image

        Vivek Chaudhari 9 months ago

        Hi

        Thank you so much for this information.

        Actually I had a (AmL) . But now at this time I'm completely cured.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 11 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Yehoshua,

        Thank you for the helpful perspective. I agree that nutrition and fasts play a huge part in healing the body. I try to focus on that every day and make improvements. Thank you for the well thought out comment.

      • profile image

        Yehoshua 11 months ago

        There are other ways to deal with such a disease it is caused by etheric parasites that infect the cell and reprogram it coding. Repairing of the Cell can be done by the body's own immune system with correction information is given to the body in form of support. The temple was set up with safeguards even in it fallen state, it requires hope, faith and charity to activate it properly, certain natural elements/resources can aid in restoring proper function to the body. A healthy diet of natural grown fruits/veggies used in detox/fasts will help the body to defeat cancer, combined with faith/prayer and meditation healing mind, spirit and body at once and cancer can vanish. Some therapy in the world can aid such as Dr Gerson Therapy. I can confirm to mankind that Chemo does damage your body, that it increases chances of a resurgence at later date and is not a cure in itself. However, the body can cure itself with the proper information given to it in Light square installations present with natural resources, present on the earth for mankind's sake. The Gerson Therapy understands this and uses such natural resources to aid in recovery, combined with faith the spirit must heal and flesh follows. If you believe in God believe in miracles and that God can work through the things provided to mankind to heal you if you put the effort in, do not expect a miracle if you put no effort, the amount you put in is the amount you shall be given.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 11 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Good luck with everything..I hope this information was helpful..keep me updated!

      • profile image

        J j 11 months ago

        Just found cancer need strong kemo and rad and surg

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 13 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Amity,

        I'm happy that this information is helpful! I'm sending you extra strength and healing energy.Please keep me updated. Amy

      • profile image

        amity finney 13 months ago

        thank you i was just diagnosed with cml last week an this has been so informative i feel so lost an worried this hub page was in simple English lololol i appreciate you sharing thank you

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 13 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi BiancaB,

        It sounds like they are doing a great job in Holland! It is challenging to process all that information when you are also dealing with all the emotions that go along with the diagnosis. Giving you information to take home and read is really helpful. I'm happy that you have an awesome support system at your hospital.Good luck on your journey! Amy

      • profile image

        BiancaB 13 months ago

        I liked the info you gave here but I have to say that I got a lot of information from the specialized oncology nurses we have here in Holland. Before chemo I had a consult with my oncologist about the medical side of it and a talk with the nurse about everything else. They also hand you that info in a folder to take home so you can read it at your leisure because they realize you are getting a lot of information at a very difficult time. It has a sheet with the medication you have take and when, a list of good wigmakers, a lot of info about the side effects and some info how to deal with them. And that is just some of the info I received. Also the specialized nurses are available 24/7 for when you start running a fever or have some other serious problem, for less serious problems or questions you could mail them and they would reply within hours.

        Specially during difficult times when you are diagnosed and suddenly find yourself on a rollercoaster and heading for your first chemo within weeks it's important to get the right information in time. I think they did a great job here at the hospital I'm at.

      • profile image

        Lucia 14 months ago

        I hope you are well...and much healing & good health to you❤

        I've lost loved ones to cancer, & I thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.

        Your information is is great, and if in the future I know anyone who is dealing with cancer I'll pass on your very helpful information?

        Best,

        Lucia

      • healthylife2 profile image
        Author

        Healthy Life 18 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Elle,

        Now it's my turn for tears. I'm so happy to hear that your Mom is doing well. I will be thinking of her on Wednesday and at that point she will be a third of the way done with chemo..real progress. Losing my hair was extremely difficult and I tried to wear my wig around my children so we could give our minds breaks. It does grow back but looking different is a reminder of the journey. Good luck on Wednesday and I am sending much healing energy your way! Please keep me updated!

      • profile image

        healthylife2 18 months ago

        Hi Ellie,

        Now your comment brought me to tears so we are even. Cancer is a team effort and I check my comments often so please keep me updated. I'm happy to hear that your mom has completed one round and that is behind her. Losing hair is definitely challenging and hard to cope with for the person and those around them because it is a constant reminder and difficult for the mind to take breaks but I promise it grows back and heals with you. I will be thinking of your mom on Wednesday and after that one I believe she will be a third of the way done.Sending healing energy your way!

      • profile image

        Ellie 18 months ago

        Your comment brought me to tears. It is nice to know that you're not alone and there are people who care and have been through this journey. My mom is doing well. She did really good during her first round. Wednesday will be her second. She just started losing hair and it was a little hard for her and I have to admit for myself too. I remembered your site and came back for some encouragement tonight. Your story helps me to keep strong for my mom. Many thanks!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 19 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Ellie,

        Thank you so much for your kind comment. It made my day because I wrote this to help others! I will be thinking of your Mom tomorrow. Please keep me updated! She is lucky to have you to care for her because that makes a big difference:)

      • profile image

        Ellie 19 months ago

        Thankful that I found your page. My mom starts chemo on Wednesday. She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in June. Tumor removed and double mastectomy. Her oncologist recommended 6 rounds of chemo. They really didnt give us any info and felt so scared and confused. I found your page and it has helped me alot since I will be caring for my mom. Thank you and God bless for sharing your experience with us all :)

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 19 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Momo,

        Always check with your doctor so you can make an informed decision. Thank you for the additional resource and for taking the time to comment.

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        healthylife2 20 months ago

        Hi Momo,

        In some cases the cold cap isn't the best option . Thank you for offering some good resources and I couldn't agree more that it's important to do a lot of research! Wishing you good health!

      • profile image

        Momo 20 months ago

        My oncologist nixed number nine because if there's any chance that your cancer has spun off a few cells to your brain, they would survive the chemo if your head is kept cold enough that the chemo drugs can't get through to them. The American Cancer Society has tons of nutrition and other information that's free for the asking. Please go to breastcancer.org if you have breast cancer, and join conversations of interest. Do LOTS of research at reputable sites only, and you will formulate your own questions!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 20 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Michelle,

        I'm so glad you found this articles helpful. Your comment made my day! Nutrition is so helpful and can help with some of the side effects and overall health.It's crazy that it's neglected by the people that are there to help. I am sending healing energy your way!

      • profile image

        Michelle 20 months ago

        Hi this has been the best article I've read so far... I've been recently diagnosed breast cancer and also noticed none of my "team" has discussed nutrition and what to expect realistically.... Thank you!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 20 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thank you for your support and kindness Margie! I am eager to stop by and check out your hub!

      • Margie Lynn profile image

        Margie Lynn 20 months ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

        Thanks so much! Keep up the great hubs!

      • healthylife2 profile image
        Author

        Healthy Life 20 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Margie,

        I hope this article helps your friend. They now have medication to prevent nausea which works for the majority. Chemo can be challenging but there are many ways to combat the side effects. Every time my words help someone else it makes my day! I will be thinking of your friend.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 20 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Sue,

        It sounds like you found an amazing place to receive treatment. Every place should be that helpful and supportive. I believe it makes a big difference. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you are doing well!

      • Margie Lynn profile image

        Margie Lynn 20 months ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

        Thanks so much for this informative hub, I have a friend have a port but in as I am writing this! I am going to share this with her! This is her second time with cancer, she had a breast removed. She only did radiation. She really did not want to do chemo. This time it is in her colon and lump nodes. I pray she does not get so sick! Thanks for sharing!

      • profile image

        Sue 21 months ago

        I hope this finds you well. Where I went for met cancer treatment, they are so very helpful and considerate of the patients and the caregivers. All of the information you wanted, plus a lot more was provided before we were in the strenuous part of chemo. They even scheduled a "class" where I could bring caregivers, family, friends, whomever I wished, and the answered any and all questions plus gave printed information. This was my class. Each cancer patient has one. I decided from the first day I would ask for any and all information......and if they didn't provide it, I would go elsewhere. My oncologist gave us his card.....with all of his contact numbers and instructions to call anytime day or night if I needed him.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Moonlake,

        Someone should provide information to all patients going through chemo that is useful on a practical day to day level. I'm so sorry your husband went through chemo and I wish someone had been more helpful. Some of the doctors are absolutely horrible and when people are going through chemo they need all the support they can get. Sometimes blended food is a little easier such as smoothies. I took much less than the recommended steroids because they can have some horrible side effects. They were given for nausea but other things helped more including the fasting. Thank you so much for your comment!

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 2 years ago from America

        Your information is very important to anyone going through chemo. I wish we had known all of this when my husband was going through it. We were given no information and when we ask the doctor a question he seemed to get irritated with us.

        We had so many people who had never had cancer insist that my husband needed to eat lots of vegetables and fruit. I didn't bother to explain he wasn't going to be doing that. He ended up unable to eat much of anything, no matter what I made him he could only get a few bites down.

        Eventually, he couldn't walk they blamed it on the steroids.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Pat,

        I'm so happy these tips were helpful to you. I think sometimes the most useful information comes from those that have gone through the same experience rather than pamphlets written by people that have never been there. Congratulations on making it through number 3! Thank you for taking the time to comment and I'm sending you healing energy and best wishes from Connecticut.

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        Pat A. 2 years ago

        Thank for your post. I am going through chemo currently at the end of the 3rd cycle. Your tips a brilliant. When I began chemo, I had no idea what to expect. Everyone seemed to think that providing me with pamphlets was the best way to inform the patient. No mention of fasting, the tip about keeping the mouth clean is timely for me. Once again thank you.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi mujercampesina,

        It's great that your oncology team is taking the time to help you through the process. Bringing a friend is very important. This is at least a two person job. I always brought my husband with me. I hope you are getting through it with minimal side effects but the important things is that you are getting through it! I will be thinking of you in Canada and am sending healing energy from Connecticut. Please keep me updated on your progress.

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        mujercampesina 2 years ago

        I loved this.... I just finished Day #1 of my 2nd cycle of treatment for Stage 3 ovarian cancer and I found this very helpful. I am in Canada, and my oncology team actually covered several of these suggestions. I have only gone for 4 treatments but I always bring a friend. I don't know how I would survive the fear and stress of this without my friends. I am glad to hear you are doing well, and thank you for all your sharing on this site

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi mary615,

        Thank you for the kind words. I am doing well and need to get back on track with my diet. I'm glad you haven't had to go through chemo but I'm sorry you have had to watch some close friends and family members go through it. Every day I hope for a cure! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I hope you are enjoying the Summer.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

        I do hope you are now doing well. I've never had to take chemo, but I've sure seen some good friends and relatives go through treatments.

        I keep hoping a cure for cancer will be found one day soon.

        My best to you.

      • healthylife2 profile image
        Author

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Nice to see you again Susan! I found the fasting interesting also and implemented it. I'm surprised that many people are still not informed about the cold caps. Losing my hair was traumatic for me and for others. It would be nice to make the road a little easier for those that go through chemotherapy. There was a recent article in the New York Times about cold caps. I hope that will make many more people aware of them. I had chemo brain as well but it eventually went away. However, any of the side effects can last longer than doctors claim or be permanent to some extent. I'm glad you are doing well and only needed two treatments. Thank you for your good wishes and I am doing well. I will be by soon to check out your hubs.

      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

        Interesting about the fasting and the cold cap. I don't think I had read those tips before, and I know I'd never heard of the cold cap. I was fortunate, only needing two chemo treatments for my rare type of cancer. I would have liked to know more about the "chemo fog," which my oncologist assured me was not a figment of my imagination and still persists, in various ways, to this day (5 1/2 years later). Thanks for this very helpful information. I pray that you are well!

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I'm glad this information was helpful Zelda and I hope you are doing well. Building up your body after chemotherapy is as important as going through it. It takes a good diet and exercise when you are able. It takes hard work but be patient with yourself because recovery doesn't happen in a straight line and it may take longer than doctors claim. I wish you the best of luck!

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        zelda 2 years ago

        Little to late for me, but now I have to build up my body. I often wished that they would at least let you know what could happen to your body. Four months down the line I am still finding out things that can go wrong. Your write is very helpful and like I say wish I had it when I started.

      • healthylife2 profile image
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        Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Sheila, It makes me so happy to know this was helpful to you! It is so beneficial when the oncologist is on board with nutritional benefits that make the road a little bit easier. Nutrition can be really helpful in preventing or minimizing side effects. Wishing you the best and feel free to return with updates.

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        Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thank you for reading and for your comment Kim!

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        Kim 3 years ago

        very good advice I agree 100%

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        Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thank you for adding that information Mar1968. Ice is also he concept behind cold caps to prevent hair loss. Ice can also be used with doxil to prevent hand foot syndrome.

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        Mar1968 3 years ago

        Ice bath the fingers. I didn't lose any fingernails and I ice bathed every treatment.

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        Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi June,

        I'm so sorry that your daughter has breast cancer but happy to hear she has a positive attitude because that will help so much. How kind of her to think of others in her age group and to be willing to help. You should be proud of her and she is lucky to have you on her team!! Thank you so much for your kind words and support. They made my day.

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        June Scarantino 3 years ago

        Bless you! My daughter is 25 and was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 months ago. We were devastated but she is so strong and positive. She is trying network with young cancer patients in their 20's. She wants to get the word out there so women 30 and below check themselves. Women in their 20's don't think this can happen to them. IMAP proud of her. So keep fighting and I'm behind you for helping other cancer patients.

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        Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Good to have a reliable resource suzD!

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        suzD 3 years ago

        Not hard for me to use him as a great resource... He's my daughter's father-in-law and a longtime family friend:)

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        Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Tracy, Thank you for checking this article out. I am doing well. I take it all one day at a time.Thank you for asking. There are many new advances in cancer research but still too many lost.

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        Tracy Bigby 3 years ago

        God Bless you...and I pray that you are doing well. I've lost a few too cancer and I know they didn't lose the battle ..they just went to heaven to watch over us all. Xxoo

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        So interesting that you had the opportunity to speak to the director SuzD. I hope the fasting concept helps many.

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        SuzD 4 years ago

        I had the opportunity to discuss fasting with the director af the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centers. He was the one who told me about the fasting clinical trials doctor.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi SecondCharm,

        This seems to be a common experience. I hope in the future doctors take a more active role in helping patients minimize side effects and rebuild their immune systems after chemo even if they provide written material. You are right that it is completely up to the patient to be proactive. Welcome to HubPages and I hope you are doing well!!

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        SecondCharm 4 years ago

        I had the same experience with my doctors during my chemo in 2010. They knew next to nothing about supportive care to ease the chemo, methods to prevent complications, or suggestions to regain my health after chemo. Thankfully doctors have learned a lot about curing cancer, but it is up to patients to figure out how to get healthy again. It can be done if you make the commitment to your health.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi SuzD,

        Thanks so much for updating me on the short term fasting concept. I found it fascinating when I first discovered it and implemented it. I had no idea that the doctor conducting the trial ended up testing the theory and I'm so happy to know it was successful. I will check out the Mayo clinic site and update my fasting article. This is exciting new information. Thanks for taking the time to comment and nice to see you again!

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Tolovaj,

        There can be some horrible side effects with chemo but taking control and reducing them as much as possible is so worth it. The fasting is a new concept but gradually more information is emerging. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment and for sharing the information. Welcome to HubPages!!

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        SuzD 4 years ago

        You can get info about fasting at the Mayo site. They have been successful with their fasting trials. Dr. That was running the trial actually had to test his own theory after cancer diagnosis. It was successful !

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        Tolovaj 4 years ago

        It's great to see chemo worked well and I am happy I learned few new things about side effects which can be in some cases even worse than the illness. Trick with fasting is new to me. I suppose everything what slows the metabolism could work in patient's favor. Thanks for all the useful info, I'll try to pass it around!

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi GClark,

        Sorry you are going through chemo but so happy to hear that you don't have any side effects after 11 sessions. Mine usually lasted around 5 hours too. It important to have someone or something there for a distraction. I completely agree that the doctor you choose for your team is key. I didn't really connect with mine but did trust her medically and the place I went which is most important. I think getting more than one opinion for something so serious can help the decision making process to find the right doctor. Thanks for commenting and I will be thinking of you!

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        GClark 4 years ago from United States

        I just completed my 11th session of Chemo Therapy. A 5 hour session. Most have been anywhere from 5 to 3 hours. At this point can say I feel very lucky as have had no bad side effects. Believe that the doctor one has makes all the difference because he is the one to choose the drugs and dosage and how often it is given plus closely monitors your blood work. There are so many variables to choose from and you do not want a doctor who goes by the one size fits all forumla as so many do. That is why it is so important that you select the besst doctor to begin with!!

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi SuzD,

        Thanks so much for leaving your nice comment. I hope this info helps your cousin. Nutrition can make such a difference during and after chemo and I hope one day doctors give this info to patients to help them recover and transition to a healthier lifestyle. I am feeling good and trying to make that choice every day to take care of myself and focus on my nutrition. Sometimes I have to get back on track but the goal is always there. Thanks again for your kind comment!!

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        suzandmichelle 4 years ago

        Thank you sooo much! I just passed this info on to a newly diagnosed dear cousin in Ocala, FL. I have sat with many chemo patients and you are right on - esp. when dealing with doctors and nutrition and anything new. How are you doing? I saw that your focus is on building up your immune system. I'd love to send you some milk Kefir grains, if that interests you? Read up on it and just say the word if you'd like to make it at home, so that you can avoid all the sugar and questionable dairy in the supermarket stuff. Again, many thanks for taking the time to help others who have no experience navigating all this scary stuff. All the Very Best! SuzD

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thank you for that kind comment Writer Fox!! I never even thought of it as generous but I do hope to make the physical and emotional aspects a little less challenging for those that find themselves going through chemotherapy.It was a difficult time but I hope writing about my experience helps others.Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for the vote.

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        Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

        I think it is very generous of you to share your personal experiences with chemotherapy here. Your positive attitude will benefit many people. Enjoyed and voted up!

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I'm so happy you returned for an update b10hove! I check this site daily. The first dose was the hardest for me too. The rituxin sounds brutal and I hope the next rounds go easier. Drink a lot of water when you get home to flush everything out. Did you also get Emend for nausea? Zofran was my backup and works also but Emend is amazing. It's good to be proactive with the nausea because you don't need that additional challenge. I also brushed and flossed several times a day and used biotene mouthwash to minimize mouth sores. Please keep me updated and focus on doing whatever you have to to take care of yourself during this time. Happy to hear you have awesome support.

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        b10hove 4 years ago

        First dose was rough. Cytoxin went in without a hitch but rituxin was a rough one. Had to stop several times do to severe back pain, crushing feeling in my chest, extreme shortness of breath, and the infamous rituxin rigors. Got through it all albeit 8 hours long. I guess having the knowledge of what expect kept the stress at a minimum. I know this is all for the good so I am fighting on. Today just some general malaise with a little muscle weakness. I'm keeping on the zofran to keep the nausea at bay so far no problems there. Tomorrow seems to be the big day for problems so I'm getting myself ready for that emotionally. Good support here from family. Thanks again for having this sight available to vent. I will keep you informed as I go. Thanks again to everyone for their information from actual experience and not textbooks.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi b10hove, I'm so happy these tips based on first hand experience are helpful to you and it means a lot to me that you took the time to let me know. I was terrified before my first chemo so am hoping this helps reduce the fear for others. I found out it was very possible to make it through even if challenging at times. Mt life was put on hold as well but looking back I'm glad I made the effort to avoid germs as much as possible. I found it is possible to take a break from your life. During chemo you have to make yourself important which isn't a bad skill to learn and absolutely accept help if it will benefit you. I would appreciate it if you have time to keep me updated on your journey. I will be thinking of you tomorrow as you begin this challenge. Sending you much strength!

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        b10hove 4 years ago

        Thank you so much for the information. I start chemotherapy tomorrow for Waldenstrom syndrome. I will be getting 6 rounds of Cytoxin, Rituxin, and Depomedrol. The fear of the unknown is my biggest obstacle. I already have peripheral neuropathy where it is difficult to walk so I am hopeful that reducing the IGM level will also reduce the attack on my nervous system. With Waldenstrom syndrome being as rare as it is there is little information out there to help. Your information is well received. Being a health care provider as a Physician Assistant in the emergency room setting for over 15 years I have had the opportunity to see first hand the results of patients waiting to long to go to the ER when a febrile episode occurs. I am not looking forward to this journey as my life and career will be put on hold as the risk for infection during this treatment will be intensified. It is wonderful to get information from a survivor and not from a textbook. Your insights are well received and will help me through this new chapter in my life. I will keep you posted as this journey commences. Sometimes too much information from your education does more harm than good. Your information relieves that stress. Thanks for being there.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I had to learn a lot through research and trial and error so I hope others can benefit from my experience.I am doing well and hope you are too:)

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        Janey Hood 4 years ago from UK

        Thank you for this article, I hope anyone considering going through chemotherapy finds it. I wished it had been around when I did!

        I hope you are keeping well.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thank you so much for your support RunningDeer! I am doing well and now have enough hair to get haircuts again and really appreciate them and enough energy to go to the gym.Thanks so much for reading.

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        RunningDeer 4 years ago from Iowa

        What a beautiful hub. Thank you for sharing your experience and tips. I hope your health is well and doing better.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Levertis Steele,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I wrote this with the hope that it will help others and make the journey a little less challenging physically and emotionally. Spinach is packed with nutrients and I hope you have some:) Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi fpherj48,

        Thank you so much for your kind words! Although this was a difficult experience both physically and emotionally I hope others can benefit from it and have an easier time. Experience is absolutely the best teacher.Thanks so much for bringing some sunshine to me on this cold Winter day in Connecticut:)

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        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Susan, First I am sorry that you are embarking on the cancer journey once again but happy that you are tolerating the chemo well. How nice that you didn't lose your hair! Thanks for adding the two additional helpful tips. I have heard that depending on the chemo it is necessary to flush the toilet twice but I did it to be safe since I have children and a husband in the house.I'm also glad you added the importance of protected sex because although it wasn't at the top of my list it is good to know and something that was not mentioned to me. I was given two different drugs for nausea and only needed one. A friend that went through it more than ten years ago was so surprised that people rarely get sick from chemo anymore. I fasted because I was terrified of neuropathy which seemed to happen to the majority that had the chemo I did and fasting is one way to protect the healthy cells so it was a benefit for me. It might be worth getting the medical studies on fasting during chemo on PubMed and checking out the forums where people are actually fasting during chemo and discussing their results. Of course talk to your doctor as well and do your own research so you can make an informed decision.I found your blog so will be following your progress and hope you keep me updated. Sending much strength and healing energy your way!

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        Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

        What a useful hub! I pray that many people who need a lifeline to help them through chemo find this information helpful. This is a valuable community service. I must add that the spinich looks delicious, and I am thinking about having some for lunch.

        Thanks for sharing.

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