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Lets Talk Chemo

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Sep 22, 2019 8:09 pm

Hi, ontariomom‍ , thanks for passing on this level of detail - I hope it will help me help you.

Check with your oncologist about the juices and soups - Dad’s oncologist took him off all vitamin and dietary supplements, vitamin C and turmeric included, but he said it would still be OK for Dad to have a curry, or take in the vitamin C through his food. He said not to go crazy and eat a dozen oranges at once, though! Also, on the topic of food, I doubt anyone on your medical team will fault you for eating fatty foods right now - they’ll be more concerned about you losing weight.

When Dad feels a need to take acetaminophen, I ask him to take his temperature before he takes the meds, just to make sure he has no fever, because, as you know, acetaminophen reduces fever. 

As for the paper towels, would it make sense to keep a snack-size baggie with a some cotton balls inside and a little sterile solution - hydrogen peroxide, for example - to sterilize your thermometer and other surfaces? Or, what about a sleeve of those make-up remover pads? I bought several packages of Lysol, Clorox or other sterile wipes for Dad, and whenever I go to his place, I grab one and wipe down all the major germ “hot spots:” light switches, faucets, door handles, etc.

For hands-free “reading” during your treatments, I recommend audio books. Pop in your ear buds, put on your mitts, and listen away. You can get Libby and Hulu and Overdrive apps, for free book downloads right to your phone or tablet. Plus, it will drown out the noise from your neighbours!

I hope some of these tips help make your next treatment go smoothly!
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by ontariomom on Sep 23, 2019 9:40 am

Thanks for the tips, Cynthia Mac! Yes, sorry, I should clarify that I used acetaminophen because the doctor confirmed a medication, not an infection, was causing the fever, and I was directed by the ER staff to take the acetaminophen. Now that I'm off the medication until next time, I have my fever card ready in case I need it and would not take acetaminophen if I went over 38, I'd just go to the ER or call the oncology line.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Sep 23, 2019 12:41 pm


Sounds like you are getting really organized for the next round good on ya. I too brought someone with me but they brought a book since I either didn't feel like talking or I would just close my eyes and put some music on.

At home, there were only a few foods that tasted as they were supposed to so I had lots of that on hand - mashed potatoes, dark chocolate, eggs, and fresh pineapple. Had to be fresh not from a can so my partner got really good at cutting them up lol

Wishing you well for the next one


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Sylviequebecbc on Sep 26, 2019 6:08 pm

I am new to this forum, and new to chemo ...my first treatment is set for October 4th, and I am nervous. 3 years ago, when first diagnosed, I only had 20 mins of Caelex and had an anaphylactic reaction, so it was stopped. Now with my Ca back, had surgery and chemo to come...will see how it goes! 
Thank you everyone for the info shared on this forum! Very helpful.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Sep 27, 2019 9:52 am

Allo, Sylviequebecbc‍ ! Welcome to Cancer connection. People seem to be very uncertain about coming here, but, like you, very relieved once they find us!

I JUST made a post for Maddie‍ About what to expect at her first chemo appointment, so I’m going to post the link below.  If you have any questions, reply in either spot and I’ll try and answer your question.  You can tag anyone on the site by typing the ‍ @symbol followed by the first few letters of the person’s name, (with no space in between - exactly how I typed it). @Cynt will pop up a list of Cynthias, and you can pick me from it.

Here’s the link: 

One additional thing, make sure you let your oncologist and the staff at the cancer centre know about your previous reactions!
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Sylviequebecbc on Sep 27, 2019 12:03 pm

Thank you Cynthia Mac‍  for the information! Very helpful. I hope all will go well! 

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Sylviequebecbc on Oct 5, 2019 6:52 pm

Just had my first chemo treatment yesterday, no allergic reaction this time! All went well, drove home (5 hour drive) with my hubby. Day 2 , feeling ok, slight nausea, but was able to take a short hike, enjoying the sun. 
A nurse told me that if I move around and keep active, less side effects can be felt. So I plan to stay moderately active, will see how it goes. 

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Elsie13 on Oct 5, 2019 11:36 pm

Hi Sylviequebecbc‍ ,  Glad the chemo went well.  I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016. The pathology report said adenocarcinoma with clear cell. Now, I'm No Evidence of Disease.  Like you I had a little bit of nausea from the chemo, but the pills they gave me worked well. 

The drive home was 5 hours?   So if you drive to the hospital, and have to be in good time, and you have 4 hours or more of chemo, and you drive home again, that's a 15 or 16 hour day right there!  Are you having chemo every 3 weeks? 
In 2016: diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. Treatment: hysterectomy, chemo, radiation. Afterwards: No Evidence of Disease!

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Sylviequebecbc on Oct 6, 2019 11:27 am

Hi Elsie13‍ 
i had my first treatment in Calgary, I live in BC, so the next ones will be close to home. I have chemo every 3 weeks, hope all will go well. 

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Tatyana on Dec 30, 2019 9:28 pm

This is my first post. First time on this website really... I'm just two weeks into my 2nd round of CT Chemo. First round was horrible. I had chemo, my period, nausea and a chest cold all in the first 7 days. My mouth was very painful for the first 10 days and food and water tasted horrible. Round 2 is going much better. (Not sure it could be worse LOL). Taking it one day at a time and looking forward to the finish line. Has anyone experienced headaches during chemo? Both rounds I’ve been getting headaches. Looking for anything that has helped others. Dr says just use Tylenol but that doesn’t always do it…


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Wendy Tea on Dec 30, 2019 9:33 pm

Tatyana‍ , welcome to this wonderful site filled with wise and caring people. I did not have chemo but most who did say drink lots of water before and during chemo to help flush it through your system.  This may also help with headaches. 

I am sure others will chime in with their suggestions. 
Best wishes 
Wendy Tea 
I am a survivor. Wendy Tea

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Buffythevampire on Dec 30, 2019 10:11 pm

Tatyana‍ I had a headache during my first round of chemo. I was given a tylenol at the hospital but it didn't do much for me. But as soon as they introduced saline into my system my headache went away. Yep, I was dehydrated. I made sure I drank lots of water, especially the day before my treatment and for the first 48 hours after treatment. 48 hours is how long the chemo drugs are in your system, so I wanted to give it a head start by drinking lots to flush it out of my system. But by drinking lots you still get the effectiveness of the drugs. I only had a headache during the first treatment.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by frozenstar on Jan 8, 2020 11:22 am

Water helps...i make a very watery weak tea that I can gulp down...I too had nasty headaches with first 2 chemos, I just had AC # 3 Monday and I'm pushing those fluids hard...my bigger problem is feeling touchy and bitchy and angry all the time..even to my chemo nurses, I feel like a big a****** these days, so I'm just trying to be quiet at this point bc everything annoys me..I guess I'm hypersensitive and it sucks...Dr gave me ativan and paxil, and it helps, god I hope my personality gets better soon, adjusting to this is the hardest part for me...
..and navigating the hair loss, I'm doing scarves atm bc they are soft and comfy, but I've got to figure out wigs which I'm struggling with, they are hot and itchy, and uuugh so far.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Runner Girl on Jan 8, 2020 1:04 pm

Hi frozenstar‍ ,

I had purchased several wigs, I wore the expensive one for 2 days and developed a very itchy rash on my head.  Determined that I was allergic to the glue they used to make the wig.  Never wore them again.  Instead I went with headcovers, made from the softest bamboo fabric.  Easy to pop on one's head, stylish in a variety of colors to match my office attire.  I wore the crazy colored ones at home and out to do the shopping.

I hope you are able to get past the angry stage to the point where you are grateful for the nurses, doctors and chemo for giving you a chance at life going forward.  I was so grateful to my team for all of their hard work to keep me alive.

Sending you a big HUG!

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by frozenstar on Jan 8, 2020 4:20 pm

Thank you Runner Girl‍ , I know u r right,  hugs for you too.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Essjay on Jan 9, 2020 8:10 am

frozenstar‍ im sorry you are struggling with the chemo - I too struggled to drink enough. I would sleep and wake so dry and in a panic that I’d slept and not drunk for hours. I tried to drink a tall glass of water every hour, for the first 2 days after chemo. I too suffered with headaches - Tylenol and ibuprofen eased them but didn’t eliminate them.

i wonder if your anger is lack of sleep? Or stress at what you are going through. If it isn’t normal for you it suggests something is off and it’s likely temporary. Have you talked to your centres social worker or counsellor? Have you tried some relaxation techniques?

There’s a lot going on and out of your control just now - this is very frustrating, and hard to cope with. One day at a time!

Like Runner Girl‍ i used hats and wraps for my head rather than wigs ( I used my free wig from my cancer centre once for a FaceTime chat with my niece who didn’t know I’d lost my hair), and I learned to do my eyebrows after the Look Good Feel Better workshop - have you been to one? I totally recommend it. You may not want to use all of the products they send you home with, but I had fun and I learned stuff. It was good to see other ladies dealing with the hair loss and crappy skin like me.

its hat season in Canada, so not the worst time to be without hair - that was my feeling last winter. 

Hope you start to feel a little more yourself on your new medication. Best wishes Essjay xx
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by frozenstar on Jan 9, 2020 10:12 pm

Essjay‍ I did try look good feel better, really nice workshop, and also going to support group next Tuesday...I just gotta keep trying to be hopeful, let anger go, and hydrate! And maybe for now scarves n hats are fine. 

will they delay round 2 due to high WBC and Neutrophils?

Posted by fil on Jan 25, 2020 4:16 pm

I just saw my bloodwork prior to Monday's second dose of Docetaxel and both WBC and Neutrophils are high.
Does anyone know how likely they are to delay Monday?  I don't want to take the stinkin' decadron steriod tomorrow if it is not needed.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by ashcon on Jan 25, 2020 4:45 pm

Hi fil‍ 

Good question.  My experience was that they still proceeded with chemo as long as certain levels were still within certain parameters.  I know near the end of my cycles, my liver function was well below 'acceptable' but we proceeded because my doc assessed that my overall health was good enough to eventually bounce back - which it did.

Have you had a history of having your chemo delayed, or dosage adjusted, because of 'less than ideal' blood results?

You're at a disadvantage by not being able to ask anyone this question on a Sunday for a Monday chemo appointment. For future, you may wish to ask your doc on Monday what to do if this happens again. I'm sure you're not the first person to be in this situation.
I know this doesn't help you for what to do tomorrow. You certainly don't want to take the stinkin' decadron if it's not needed. 
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by fil on Jan 25, 2020 5:00 pm

Thanks...yes...it is those measures and parameters that I don't know.  What might be a concern to my Oncologist?  I think mainly platelets and low neutrofils.  I think it is not bad and they will go ahead anyway since I am strong now and this is only #2.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by frozenstar on Jan 27, 2020 9:14 am

Well I finished AC chemo. Taxol starts February 3rd. 12 weeks of fun LOL. At least thank goodness AC is over. This 4th round has been particularly nasty. But at least it's over.
I have a lot of body aches, muscle pain, like I'm bruised or beaten up somehow, but there are no marks on me, it just hurts...and my hair fuzz/scalp still stings, and feels very tender. It is slowly getting better though, I know it is. I don't know why but also I just have so much nagging pain in my armpit, and at the lumpectomy site. Meh, chemo's left me a miserable hagler...will be very glad when its done, and I hope Taxol won't be a nightmare. I know many people say its a bit easier so...*fingers crossed*
 I've been working a lot on trying to accept the upcoming mastectomy, and the fact that I need it, and that there's no where to run... It's what comes next after chemo, so I'm trying to get myself used to it somehow. I look at pics online..its already not as shocking as when I first saw. My husband is very nice about it, he saw the pics of what I will very likely look like after, and he said it wasnt that bad, he still wants to touch me all over, so that's hopeful...


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 28, 2020 10:43 am

frozenstar‍ , when I read your post, I wavered between two descriptors for you: wise and brave.

When you wrote 

trying to accept the upcoming mastectomy, and the fact that I need it, and that there's no where to run...

For some strange reason, I pictured Billy Connolly yelling, “Yewoo, OOOT!”  To your cancer cells in his Glaswegian accent. That, in turn, reminded me of a conversation we had here on Cancer Connection a while ago from someone who ordered a T-shirt saying that radiation would be more rewarding if the cancer cells screamed while they were being destroyed. (I’m sure the saying had to be “snappier” than that to get it on a t-shirt, but you get my drift.)

That post stuck with me, and I remember at the time a few other people said they were going to start using that visualization in their treatment.

I also want to say you’ve found a gem of a husband, to walk through this journey with you so supportively.

I wish you well.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 28, 2020 12:03 pm

Sylviequebecbc‍ - it’s been a few months - how are you doing? Ca va bien? 
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by ashcon on Jan 28, 2020 3:20 pm

Hi frozenstar‍ 
Allow me to join in on the praise for you husband - he does sound fabulous!  After I had my double mastectomy, yeah, my shirts and tops weren't as "full", but I soon realized that people rarely noticed.  In fact, I went for an Xray of my hips and chest 2 weeks ago, and the technician asked me to remove my bra before putting the gown on!
I realized it must be more the way you carry yourself (don't slouch!) that conveys confidence and femininity!
Taxol....For me it was 'different' than AC.  Yes, less nausea and less headaches (yay!) but I crashed harder after each round.  Especially when the steroids they give you wear off.  Each person reacts differently, though so I'd be interested to hear about what you experience.

fil‍  - did you have your chemo yesterday?  What did Dr say about your blood counts, and if, or how, you'll be notified if a chemo round is delayed or altered?
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

When to postpone [was] Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by fil on Jan 28, 2020 4:51 pm

fil‍  - did you have your chemo yesterday?  What did Dr say about your blood counts, and if, or how, you'll be notified if a chemo round is delayed or altered?

Yes 2nd bag down.  They would only be worried about low neutrophils and platelets.  They say I would have got a call.  It seems the steroid is not so bad this time.  But I did take lorazepam and slept last night.