Find ways to relax before and during chemotherapy sessions. HCBHP has tapes on meditation in the library and staff can arrange to have a "buddy" accompany you to chemo or talk with you before and after. Consider taking someone with you to treatment. Be aware there is limited space in the "chemo circle" so discuss with the nursing staff prior to your visit. If allowed, bring someone you feel comfortable with; someone who can anticipate your needs and "read you" without you having to talk. Bring a walkman with your favorite music or relaxation tapes. Since chemotherapy is administered in a room with other clients you may need to find a way to create a personal space for yourself. Talk to the chemotherapy nurses if you are having a difficult time in the chemo "circle." Occasionally, a private space can be made available with advance notice.
Before and after chemo sessions, create time for yourself and your loved ones. Some survivors plan mini trips the weekend before chemo (when they are feeling their best). This provides for "good memories" during treatment. Examples: a fishing trip, a trip to the beach to watch the sunset, horseback riding, a walk in the redwoods, dancing, watching a funny movie or video, a massage, short jaunts to Orick or Fort Bragg (Skunk train), etc. Treat yourself!!!
Weekly massages may be paid for by your insurance while undergoing treatment. Some survivors create a routine pre- and post-treatment, i.e., outing the weekend before chemo, hydrating and meditating the day before and the morning of chemo, going shopping with a special friend or family member if feeling "high energy" immediately post-chemo (due to dexamethasone), taking it easy and scheduling a "sleep day" the day after chemo, etc.
Do whatever you can to get though diagnosis and treatment. ASK FOR HELP. Family, friends, HCBHP staff and volunteers want to help!!! Take care of yourself. Allow others to cook, clean, care for your children. Assign a family member or friend to field phone calls and e-mails. Put a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on the door. Get an answering machine (if you don't already have one) and ask someone to record a daily progress update. Remember your loved ones may be frightened; giving them a specific task will allow them to help.
You will receive a lot of information about your disease process and treatments. Read what you can then put the remainder in a file to access at a later date. You can only absorb so much emotionally. This is a frightening time and you may get scared reading too much initially.
Take one day at a time.
Go to a place of peace daily...whether it's in the forest, walking in the early morning or in your favorite chair with a cup of tea.
Talk to other survivors.
Attend support group.
Write in a journal.
Express yourself with art projects.
If you are to receive a medication that will cause your hair to fall out, consider cutting your hair short pre-chemo. Wigs are available from American Cancer Society for free. Try on wigs, hats whatever you feel comfortable with before you lose your hair. If you have small children you can include them when you cut your hair or in picking out a hat or wig. Some survivors have invited their children to actually cut their hair. One survivor had her children make a "hair mosaic" using glitter glue and her hair. Children will have an easier time accepting the visual changes in their mother (or father) if allowed to participate in the preparations. Talk openly with your little ones. Note: your hat and possibly your wig will look and fit differently once your hair falls out.
Nausea and Vomiting
Smells can be magnified and can contribute to nausea. Some survivors have taken sliced lemons or lavender to mask other odors. Do not wear perfumes or strong scented lotions during treatment. If the medications prescribed for you don't relieve your nausea and vomiting call your oncologist's office. There are many medications that can be substituted. Be aware it may take time to find the right combination that will relieve your symptoms. Don't give up. Some survivors have reported relief for mild nausea (day 3,4,5 post-chemo) using "sea sickness" bracelets found at some pharmacies (Longs). Walking may help to decrease nausea.
Drugs commonly prescribed for nausea and vomiting:
- Scopolamine gel
- ABHR suppository (Ativan, Benedryl, Haldol, Reglan)*
* ABHR= 0.5-1mg. Ativan (two strengths), 12.5 mg. Benedryl, 0.5 mg. Haldol, 5 mg. Reglan
Questions and Comments
For questions and comments about chemotherapy, please call us at (707) 825-8345.