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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.
  • Socks.
  • 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!

Me and my awesome sister



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