Maybe you’ve had a few days to think about your diagnosis and your first treatment is coming fast. Don’t be afraid. Here are some simple ideas that will help you through.
Once you settle into the plan, just do what they say and work on getting to the end of treatments. Keep your eye on the goal. The goal is to finish! To be done with chemo! Ultimately be done with CANCER!
I want to help you thrive through the treatments.
Keep Your Eye On The Goal
When you walk into the chemo clinic try looking forward to the visit. Especially on what I called “The Big Chemo” days. Those were the days of the six hour treatments.Try to remember that after this treatment, you’ll be one step closer to the Finish Line! My first encounter on each visit was with the valet parking crew. They ALWAYS had a nice smile for me and often, a hug too!
I think I looked forward to it because I got to chat with the nurses and see how they were doing. They always asked me how I was doing and honestly, if I had a NICKLE for every time they asked if I needed anything, I’d be pretty well off! They didn’t just take care of my medical needs, but they made sure I was comfortable too. Let’s just say, they knew how I took my coffee!
Many chemo patients really dread their infusions. I’ve seen them. They are very sad looking. Long faces. Lonely. I always wanted to talk to the other patients, but it really wasn’t allowed. I wanted to roll my IV pole into the next treatment room and just sit and chat. But I never felt an invitation from another patient. Sad really. I know it would have passed the time for us both more quickly.
One day, I did ask one of the nurses if I could go and introduce myself, but she said that HIPPA did not allow that. I still don’t understand that one! I mean really? At any given time there could be 20 or more patients in the chemo clinic and may of us were probably there for the same reason! HIPPA makes me mad!
There will always be SOME apprehension before treatments…especially the very first one. This is VERY normal. The day after my first treatment, for example, was not fun. It wasn’t what I had expected though. I expected to be throwing up ALL DAY. To be precise, I didn’t throw up even ONCE!
I soon learned that the oncology docs really had this figured out. They had armed me with meds to take a day before, the day of and two days after that BIG chemo. So, I never had to deal with that side of things.
Actually, what I dealt with, wasn’t really what I was expecting at all. I had SEVERE constipation and then the next day, was not terrible! The day after that was ZERO energy so I did pretty much nothing! Around this time, as I recall is when the diarrhea started.
I’ve had diarrhea before, but this was THE WORST! I soon found out that this would be my pattern for about 20 weeks until the BIG CHEMO was done.
The heartburn I experienced would choke a horse and NOTHING I tried would help. Until my daughter gave me a bottle of Papaya Enzymes that worked so well, I use them ANYTIME I get heartburn now. If you’d like to try is, this is the one I used and recommend.
I was also able to take whatever time off from work that I needed, so for me, it was good that when I needed, I could rest.
A good friend really encouraged me to start a Caring Bridge online journal when I was first diagnosed. I wasn’t excited about doing that, but looking back, I’m so glad I did. You know how you always think you’ll remember stuff? Well, you don’t. At least I don’t. So, here’s an excerpt from my journal on day two after my first BIG CHEMO:
We came home after about 8 hours at the clinic (the first day is always longer because they take it slow to make sure I’m tolerating it well). I was expecting to ‘feel’ something. I really didn’t feel any different at all. We had a normal dinner and then just cleaned up and watched some television.
Friday was a bit different. I have to take a steroid for a day before, the day of and two days after chemo every three weeks. That stuff is not fun, but they tell me it’s necessary, so I take it. The pain from constipation was probably the worst. I prefer homeopathic remedies whenever possible so that’s what I’m doing. Long day of bloating, pain and just yuck!
I could go on all day talking about my treatments. I’ll give you a break for now. We can talk about it again soon. I promise!
OK, “DIET” is a four letter word, right? But, if changing your diet will help you THRIVE through chemo, then you should do it! That’s what I did. During the 20 weeks of the Big Chemo, I ate very strict Paleo. Not an exciting diet by any means, but here’s what happened.
I did NOT gain any weight. I was told I could expect up to a 20 pound weight gain with the chemo I was prescribed. I wasn’t crabby. I was told that I could expect to be crabby. I didn’t require naps for the most part. That’s not to say that I was bouncing off the walls with energy, but I wasn’t laying around all day – every day – and having to sleep. In fact, I slept pretty well at night too, which was not predicted either.
At the end of my chemo, my oncologist actually commented on how well I did during my treatments. I was very proud of the fact that I made the sacrifices I did. It wasn’t fun, but cancer never is. I came out of the treatments ready for surgery.
Stay Away From the Germs!
While going through chemo, I had 11 grandchildren who I love very much. They all live close enough that we get to see them quite often. When my oncologist said that my white count would drop pretty low from chemo, I asked how that would affect my seeing my grandkids.
We all know that little ones can carry a lot of germs, right? And when a chemo patient gets an infection, their body isn’t able to fight it off like an otherwise healthy person. This can cause a delay in treatments – something that I was NOT interested in!
We had a discussion about it and I made the decision that if I was going to THRIVE through my treatments, then I would have to forego seeing my grandkids for 20 weeks! That was not a decision that I made lightly and it really broke my heart when I had to miss a birthday or other celebration.
The hardest day was when little Nadia was admitted to hospital with severe dehydration. She was there for three days as I recall and I could only video chat. That was hard, but I’m here to tell you that I NEVER missed one treatment! By the way – Nadia is fine!
Keep a Positive Attitude
I made the conscious choice to always try to find the positive side to as much as I could. When I was suffering the few days after “The Big Stuff” every three weeks, I tried to remind myself that there are so many people in the world who have big problems. There is always someone worse off than any of us is and it’s good to remind ourselves of that from time to time.
Thank God. Every. Single. Day. Just thank Him. Even if – especially if – you don’t feel like it. He is GOOD all the time and He loves you.
Now, get thriving! And tell me about YOUR journey. Did you struggle thriving through your treatment? Tell me how you handled it. And tell me how you’re doing now.