What to expect at Chemo…

Two things I want to say before I dive into this.
Everything is temporary. (every situation is temporary-thank goodness and time will pass) and
Everyone takes chemo differently- even the same exact chemos.
Before I was a cancer patient- I didn’t know the different between chemotherapy and radiation. It seems ridiculous now- but that’s common. Chemo is a systematic treatment- it treats the whole body because it goes in your blood stream. And radiation is a localized treatment- you get “radiated” (or as I like to say “nuked”)in a specific location. So my background going into my first day of chemotherapy was that I had a close friend who passed away from cancer and I saw all of her side affects first hand. And I also had all these women in my support group who said they went back to work or walked the beach after treatment. Even though these were exact opposites I had worked myself up with so much anxiety I think I made it worse. My first chemo was so much worse than all my others and I think it’s because I didn’t know what to expect and I was really nervous. I found out that your mind can really influence your body. I had some misconceptions and anxieties that made it far worse than it needed to be.

For a real in-depth tips & advice from survivors who have walked this path check out my tips section under chemotherapy. Tips from Survivors/Chemotherapy

Here is what I wish someone would have told me before my first chemo treatment…

This will take ALL day. It takes WAY longer than anyone plans- so a 4-5 hour treatment can turn into 8 hours.
You’ll sit in a chair and wait a lot- wait for the IV bag to empty, wait for the nurses, wait for the doctor- LOTS OF WAITING!!!
You’ll be surrounded by the most caring individuals in the world- oncology nurses! They are amazingly kind and caring- I haven’t heard a bad story nor did I ever have a bad experience. They will help you through this- so you can relax and trust them. But ask any questions you may have- and always advocate for yourself!
You are going to be watched like a hawk to make sure you don’t have any reactions, especially the first time.
Your going to see the oncologist before you get hooked up to the IV’s.

Take you anti-nausea drugs as instructed! Try not to miss a dose- with all my charts and lists I still forgot to take medications a couple of times- or to numb my port-a-cath before my treatment with lidocaine. It wasn’t fun- but I survived.

Ask the oncologist for medication to help you sleep- it’s a tough thing your going through- you may need a little help temporarily to switch off your brain.
Chemo is a series of IV bags hooked up to you. You’ll be in a some sort of chair that reclines.
Most of a chemo treatment is boring. Once you see the doctor.. it’s downhill from there on the excitement meter. And that’s ok- right?
So don’t bring anyone with you who is fidgety and can’t sit still for a long period of time.

Here are some tips for What to Bring to chemo and if you want to you can find a free Chemo Calendar to use at guide2chemo.com to keep track of appointments and medications or at mymedschedule.com you can keep track of just your medications. The nurses may do this for you but if they don’t you can make a schedule at chemo, with all of that time you have on your hands!

  • Here I am at ChemoOlga and Linda threw me “Last Day of Chemo” party that even included anti-cancer cupcakes! It meant the world to me that they were there.

One Comment

  1. Andrea
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I loved your post. Great information. I write a blog to help women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I try to offer tips like those you’ve given. Here’s to your health!