Chemotherapy. One of the big scary words that comes along after you hear the words “you have cancer.” Something you may not know about it is, there are countless types of chemotherapy. How someone is effected by chemo will depend greatly on the person and also on which type of medications, infusions and treatment plans are used. Some people are able to take chemo pills and remain at home, while others have to get a port or picc line placed for weekly (or biweekly) infusions at the clinic.
While side effects my vary, in general there are a few common themes. Chemotherapy infusions can:
take time, usually 3-8 hours
cause nausea and alter taste
bring on extreme fatigue
kills fast-growing cells (like cancer, mouth, hair and intestinal cells)
If you or someone you know is beginning chemo, here are a few things that might be helpful.
A fun/funny adult coloring book offers something to do during those long infusion days.
After my first few infusions, I began feeling queasy just walking through the clinic doors, knowing what was ahead for me. Something sweet to suck on helped distract me and calm my tummy.
Along with that, I felt triggered by the smell of the packaging of my medications. So as the nurse got me all hooked up I would open up my favorite essential oil scent and put it right near my nose, taking slow, deep breaths.
Before each infusion I was grab a giant steel tumbler and fill it with pebble ice to bring with me. I would suck on the ice during my “red devil” infusion to try and help prevent mouth sores. It worked! And then when I was home I was challenge myself to drink more water because I alway felt so much better when I was hydrated.
There’s something about chemotherapy killing the cells lining your mouth and throat that causes a really dry, cotton-mouth feeling. Which was awful. The Biotene mouthwash was very helpful!
Because one of the known side effects from one of the chemotherapy medications I had (Taxol) was neuropathy, I knew I wanted to try and combat that from the start. I decided to use cold therapy on my hands and feet. It was COLD but worth it. It worked!
Using cold therapy during long infusions meant, I was typically freezing cold. I used quilts but this wearable sleeping bag is what I wished I had then! This would also be great for cold capping (when ice is placed on the head to help prevent hair loss).
If you have been through chemotherapy treatments, I would love to hear what you found to be most helpful!