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Let's Talk Chemo

Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Lacey_Moderator on Sep 16, 2020 12:01 pm

Post your questions or experience with chemo below...

This is a continuation of this great thread:https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/48/35831

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Boby1511 on Sep 18, 2020 11:52 am

Chemo sucks

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by IlaE on Oct 3, 2020 1:15 pm

Hi everyone,
My chemo treatment starts on October 15th.  I'm working on the mental, physical and emotional preparation and have read some great posts about what to take to my first appointment and a little about what to expect. 

I'd love to hear tips or tricks that you used to help you get ready for the chemo journey.  What did you do that was helpful? what did you do that thought you'd need/use but didn't?  I'm a planner ....and I'm the primary house-tender. Inside the house is my department, outside is the husbands.

Did you make meals and freeze? did you hire a cleaner? what did you do that worked well? did you keep working? understanding that each chemo journey is unique, but feel that hearing your ideas and suggestions will help me prepare and think of things that aren't currently in my thought process.

Thank you!! 

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Boby1511 on Oct 3, 2020 2:45 pm


I think the fatigue in the beginning was an adjustment for me. Slept a lot early on with chemo.
I'm on doxorubicin and steroids for pain and nausea. I also have low bp so contributing factor to my fatigue, which comes on quickly.
Although the fatigue does get better with each round. You get used to it I guess.
I still get the rage with the steroids so there's an adjustment for that too. But this only lasts a few days.
I never took care of the whole household as you do so I don't have any advice.
Sending you best wishes for strength and peace.

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by ashcon on Oct 4, 2020 9:28 am

I know this may sound odd, but I'm going to say it anyway... Congratulations for starting this part of your treatment. Chemo is known to be quite effective against TNBC so you will be officially taking the upper hand now against this insidious disease. I'm assuming you are getting the dose dense treatment every 2 weeks, yes? 

The tips and ideas for getting thru chemo are vast and varied, as I'm sure you would have seen in the discussion thread https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/48/35831

I found the first day completely overwhelming, emotionally, as I didn't know what to expect. But then you get into a groove, you get to see the same people and nursing staff for each of your treatments and (hopefully) you will find connection, community, and caring in that, which is so helpful in your healing. 

From a practical perspective, plan on things like how you are going to manage losing your hair, because that will happen.  Meal prep in advance is important. But don't plan on laying around in bed all day.  Exercise, fresh air, and even housework are all things to keep you moving, though you will be moving slower and likely doing less. 
There was no way I could have worked during treatment, so I focused on my self care big time. 
Embrace your cancer centre's pharmacist. They are a valuable resource when it comes to advising you on what to expect with the meds, and ways to counter some of the side effects. 

I too, am a planner. A former project manager in fact, and I saw my cancer like a project.  My "project" included all the things a typical project would include:  a schedule of all my appointments, a log of all the meds, a log of all the questions and answers with my oncologist, a log of each pre-chemo bloodwork results, list of numbers to call. 
I found this patient toolkit from Taking Charge of Cancer author, David Palma, incredibly helpful.

I still use it today, 3 years post treatment to keep track of things in my follow up appts with my oncologist and my family doctor. 

Finally, make sure you have a treat set up for yourself on the day of each chemo session. For me that was grabbing a chai latte from Starbucks on my way home. 

You are in good hands, here, and with your medical team. Go forward with your soon-to-be bald head held high and your heart open to all aspects of healing. 
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Skye1717 on Oct 17, 2020 12:27 am

Hi everyone, I'm freaking out right now!  Just got the call today and I start Chemo on Wed Oct 21st.  I've been reading articles about Chemo and Covid and want to talk to my doctor to see if my treatment can be delayed right now as I am so scared to get sick with Covid.  I know he would of already advised me and I just don't know if I can do it.  I've been emotional all day and wonder what did I do to get CANCER during a pandemic!!  Had a good cry and feel a little bit better but still uncertain.  Any advice from someone who has been doing chemo during this pandemic.


Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by MWI on Oct 17, 2020 1:07 am

Hi, Skye1717
I had chemo in the pandemic, started in MAY and finished in Aug. I think I did not get any germs from the hospital. The staff there are making lots of effort to keep everyone safe. Secondly, kids were home too as schools were closed so nobody in the family got flu etc during that time. Now since kids have started school and bringing flu germs we all got sick ones, just seasonal flu. So I think if inside the house, family is okay then you should be good too. 
yes people reacts differently to chemo, in my case I did not find it that hard. No nauseavomiting headache.  Few days after chemo were little lazy but then back to normal. 
I hope things go easy for u too. 

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by ashcon on Oct 17, 2020 9:43 am

I'm sorry that this news of needing chemo, especially during this pandemic, has thrown you for a loop. I remember being shocked, and even angry, when I heard I needed chemo. 
The good news is that chemo was not as bad as I thought it would be. I saw that you wrote somewhere that it "kills everything in your body" which is not 100% true. Depending on the cocktail, it is designed to target fast growing cells, like cancer cells. Unfortunately that also sometimes includes your hair, nails, skin. Some chemo works differently though, and that may not be the case for you. 

It's worth getting credible information that is applicable to YOUR situation.  Like from your doctor. 

Are you living in a an environment or situation that exposes you to an abnormally high risk of covid19 exposure? 
My daughter worked as a covid screener at a hospital in Ontario that served cancer patients. She described to me the incredible lengths they went to to protect their cancer patients. So much so that she felt the hospital was the safest place to be during this pandemic. 
It sounds like you are young and healthy and can withstand a cancer treatment plan. And yes, even young and healthy people get cancer. I was incredibly healthy before my cancer diagnosis. My neighbour is a marathon runner and he got cancer. 
This disease is insidious. Many people diagnosed have none of the known risk factors. Instead of asking "why me", I eventually learned to ask "why not me?" 

There is a good series of webinars here about cancer and covid19.  Perhaps you'd like the one about covid19 and cancer treatments (posted in June (July?) of this year). 


I hope this alleviates some of your fears. I'd hate to see you risk not getting life-saving treatment for a situation that is probably quite manageable.

Let us know how you make out this week.
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Survive2020 on Oct 18, 2020 8:18 am

Skye1717‍ Good luck with your treatment. The pandemic has definitely impacted my experience with breast cancer treatment (delayed surgery, no support person allowed in the hospital, heightened fear of infection and isolation from family and friends). But, I have found the experience of chemo not as bad as feared. My oncology staff have been very compassionate. I've also chosen to undertake an integrative approach to treatment involving a naturopath and acupuncturist. Nutrition is critical to your wellbeing during this time. Good resources for cancer patients on the website for the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine's Integrative Cancer Centre. 

I have continued to work from home through treatment although some days I need to nap. And a little brain fog can get in the way of productivity. I appreciate the distraction and normalcy of work. You will discover what works for you as you go through the process. And soon you'll be sharing your own tips with others! All the best 💛


Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by ashcon on Oct 19, 2020 6:51 pm

Love your username! I think that's how we're all feeling. Even those not dealing with cancer! 
That's a great little collection of resources in that link you provided. I finished my treatments 2.5 years ago and didn't really embrace any integrative care, except for really cleaning up my diet and becoming a real "foodie", but I fared pretty well. Like you, I didn't find chemo as bad as I feared.

Glad you shared this resource, and glad you were able to work from home through your treatments. It sounds like you really told your cancer who was boss, and you are not letting it derail you from living your life. 

Skye1717‍ . Good luck on Wednesday! If you can, start drinking lots of water tomorrow, and each time, 1 day before each chemo day. Hydration will be key. 
💦 ❤️😷
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by IlaE on Oct 22, 2020 11:57 am

Hi Skye - so glad that you posted. I'm a few days ahead of you - I started my first round of chemo on October 15 in Calgary at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC). It is freaky to be walking into a hospital during Covid to start chemo. And, it's important to take it one step at a time. The protocol at the TBCC is super high. I'm asked to sanitize my hands and change my mask on entry and again on exit. I keep to myself, I don't touch things I don't need to. I take the stairs instead of the elevator. I make my husband touch things if needed, e.g. door handles. The treatment area is set up like pods - so other than the nurse that was with me and my husband, I didn't interact with anyone else or come within 6 meters of anyone. The waiting room is set up with lots of space between people. The nurse that worked with me sanitized / washed often, changing gloves, wore a face shield at times, and was fully gowned for the entire process. 
I packed way too much to take to my appt. I didn't touch my snacks, books, journal, music.  I used the blanket I took and drank my tea and listened to a bit of music. 
For me, the worst part was the uncertainty of what it would be like, how I would feel and the symptoms I would experience. Now that I'm through the first round (I'm on day 8), I have a better sense of what to expect. And, I focus on one day at a time. I rest when I needed to, I drink a lot of peppermint tea (hot water with a tea bag) and drink soda water at room temp and have ginger ale on standby if needed. Drinking lots of water, staying hydrated is super important. Nothing really tasted great, but I had toast every morning and ate small snacks when I could. I went for a walk every day, even if it was around the block. Then later I'd go again. I go a little further each day. Hubby came with me for the first few days and now I go on my own.
People will want to help. Let them. And if you're not sure what you need or how they can help - let them know that too. My oldest sister was super overwhelming, texting me every day and asking if she could bring cookies, soup, colouring - she was so desperate to help, which was so sweet and I had to tell her that I needed space. I have family spread all over Alberta and BC, and everyone was texting with "how are you feeling?" - it was too much so I asked for space and put my phone down for the better part of 3 days while I focused on me and let my husband respond and the rest of the messages could wait till I was ready. 
If there's anything else I can answer for you, share with you, please let me know. It's ok to not be ok - this is an adventure we didn't sign up for and, we're going to do our best to take it one day at a time and come through the other side. 

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Lianne_Moderator on Oct 23, 2020 4:52 pm


I am glad you posted as well. As you can see by the responses, you are certainly not alone. supersu‍  talks about going through cancer during a pandemic as DIY cancer.

How did the appointment go on Wednesday?


Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by FeatherLou on Oct 24, 2020 7:36 pm

Everyone who is stepping up to chemo is a superhero!
It took my hair; I got a sexy wig.
It stole my hiking boots; I marched around the block.
It put my mood on a swing; I said "push higher!"
Now there's a clot twist!  DVT for me.
I'm not sure if I can step up anymore.
Just one flight is exhausting.
Should I keep climbing?  If I fall...
I'll just be lying down over here for now.

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Kims1961 on Oct 24, 2020 7:49 pm

FeatherLou‍ Well said...the staircase that is chemo - sometimes it feels like it is 100 steps tall and other times, we can ride down the staircase on the railing.

Just know - if you are lying down over here for now - we are but an email away to help you back up or maybe just lay beside you.

Take care, Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by FeatherLou on Oct 25, 2020 8:01 am

Thanks Kim.
I'm not confident that chemo is the way to go if it's going to bring my quality of life to that of a toxic clotty blob.
I'm tempted to just stop, maybe skip to the radiation.
Any ideas, wise ones?
PS  Wish there was a peer support phone line  ...   maybe I could start one!

Re: Let's Talk Chemo

Posted by Kims1961 on Oct 26, 2020 9:22 am

FeatherLou‍   We have so many things to consider with treatment - pros/cons - quality of life etc.  

Have you had a chance to discuss this with your oncologist?  Sometimes it helps for them to understand as a patients - what is important to our “living well” and what information is helpful to us.  I also thought that at any point, I could stop treatment if i wanted to - we have choices.

I’m not sure what area you live in - but there is a Community Service Locator - that may be able to suggest a possible peer support group in your area or via phone?


Keep me posted on how you’re doing.  All the best, Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom