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  • 2012 July 22
    From the daily archives: Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Okay, so you’re starting chemo. It was more than five years ago for me, but I still remember. Here’s what I wish someone had told me:

    This one is the hardest, because it’s unknown. Once this one is over, you will feel so much better, because you will know what to expect for the next ones. Each one will be a little harder than the last, because the effects are cumulative. The good news is that typically they don’t change. You’ll get a sense of how it goes after this one. I was vastly relieved that I didn’t turn green or blow up. That’s the irrational fear, isn’t it? The good news is that these folks really know what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it for a long time and they have it down to a science. You are in very good hands.

    It’s great to have a buddy who’s been there. It’s not really helpful to know all the side effects that could happen, because many of them wont, or they wont be severe, or they will and you’ll deal with it then. If you have a buddy who’s been there, you can call her up and say “I feel like …..is that normal?” and get some reassurance. You probably at some point may need to whine a little. That’s totally ok. After a couple of days, it starts to lift, and you get to feel normal until the next one. My buddy told me that a Coca-cola would help me with nausea, and it did. Unfortunately I still associate Coke with comfort, alas!

    Your body may feel strange to you. That’s normal. This is something new. Chemotherapy cured me of my panic attacks. I was experiencing a racy feeling that I knew were the steroids. I knew it was chemically induced, so I didn’t panic. No panic attacks since!

    Please, take all the medications they give you to keep you comfortable. A stressed body does not have the resilience to cope as well as a comfortable, rested body. Stay comfortable!

    Do you have people to take care of you? Do you have help? Do you have plenty of comfort items available to ride out those possibly uncomfortable few days? Show yourself how much you love you, by tending to your needs the way you would your dearest friend or your child.

    Here are my notes on side effects, for my friend on TAC:

    Either the Adriamycin or the Cytoxan is a bladder irritant. Cranberry juice really helps. Have some around!

    I was terrified of the neuropathy that happens with Taxol. I’m a massage therapist and neuropathy was just too horrible to contemplate. I asked my oncologist’s assistance in desperation if there was any way to avoid it, and she told me that L-glutamine in mega-doses was helpful for some people. I found some powder that provided a gram per spoonful, and chugged it in water for 10 grams a day. My neuropathy was minimal, and not lasting. Talk to your doctor about this. I took 10 grams of L-glutamine for the five days around my infusion, and two grams a day for the rest of the time I was on Taxol.

    Get some funny movies, and keep your sense of humor! Laughing is good for you white blood cells. You may even get to cut back on the neulasta shots, as I did.

    Oh yes, don’t forget the Biotene! Magic mouthwash for sensitive mouths, keeps mouth sores at bay. Use liberally.
    Be proactive. At the first sign of any form of discomfort, head it off by taking amazing care of yourself!

    You can ride this wave, sister. Let nothing be more important than your self care, nothing. Side effects are worse with stress. Be good to you and know that you are on my heart. Sending you love this Wednesday.

    Elizabeth

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