Tips to Help Get Through Chemo
A friend’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and she wanted to know I had any tips for dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy. So I pulled together a list of some of the things that I thought were important.
Before you start chemo
- Go to the dentist! Because you won’t be able to go until after you finish your chemo regimen.
- Get a mani pedi. When your blood count is low, you won’t want to risk infection.
Bring to your chemo sessions
- A sweater. Most places are freezing!
- A blanket, for that same reason.
- Snacks, preferably something healthy and with a fair amount of protein.
- Water. Lots of water.
While you are undergoing treatment
- To help keep your mouth healthy, and ward off mouth sores, use a gentle toothpaste and mouthwash. I like the Biotene brand.
- Chemo drys your skin out. Use a heavy lotion, without many chemicals, on your body. I like the Cerave brand.
- Same with your face. Cetaphil makes a nice lotion for sensitive skin.
- In the middle of my 20 week treatment, my skin decided it didn’t like my tinted moisturizer or sunscreen so I’ve been experimenting on what to use. So far, a mineral powder with SPF seems to be ok. But definitely respond quickly to skin sensitivities.
- Be proactive with constipation. A daily stool softener, to counteract steroids and anti-nausea meds, is really helpful.. And a laxative if you are stopped up for a day or two.
- But don’t be afraid to use the anti-nausea meds if you need them. They work really well.
- Hemorrhoids are the worst. I had never had them until I started chemo. If you get them, use a daily laxative and a medicated wipe. I also mixed Preparation H with Nupercainal(dibucaine), which is a numbing ointment, to keep the area as pain free as possible.
- I’ve been getting a bloody nose because the inside of my nose is dry. I put a petroleum jelly, like Aquaphor, on a Q-tip and put it on the inside of my nose.
- I couldn’t sleep after I was diagnosed. Just way too much to think about. My oncologist prescribed Ativan for me. I took it for many months. And then weaned off of it when I was feeling less stressed and anxious. You need your sleep.
- Meditation helped me learn to clear my mind. Which made it easier for me to nap.
Food and drink
- To lessen nausea, drink ginger teas and suck on ginger candies.
- For a snack to have on hand, look for protein bars with 0 grams of sugar.
- Full fat yogurt is your friend.
- As are smoothies with greens like spinach. (My favorite smoothie right now is Coconut milk, spinach, yogurt, frozen fruit and a non-whey protein powder.)
- Wash your produce very well. Soaking it for a few minutes in water with a tablespoon of white vinegar will kill germs. There are also solutions you can buy at the grocery store that do the same thing.
- And drink water. Lots of water.
- Drinking bone broth is a great way to help stay you stay hydrated and get nutrients.
To wig or not
- My hair started really falling out about two weeks after I started chemo. My daughter shaved it all off at that point. I was gifted some awesomely fun wigs but don’t wear them often. They feel too uncomfortable for me, especially in the Florida heat. I either go out bald or I wear a hat: baseball hats, fedoras, wide brimmed hats or a scarf. It’s a personal preference!