Your oncologist will review with you the chemo treatment she/he has prescribed to treat your breast cancer, as well as the side effects of treatment. You can always contact your doctor to ask questions about your treatment.
Some of the suggestions below may help you address some of the side effects of treatment.
Find ways to relax before and during chemotherapy sessions. The BCRC Library has tapes on meditation and a free session every Monday at noon. Consider taking someone with you to treatment. Be aware there is limited space in the "chemo circle" so discuss this 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 good book or IPOD 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 have mentioned that they plan ‘mini trips’ or special time at a special place—like a garden or beach, the weekend before chemo (when they are feeling their best). This provides for "good memories" during treatment. Examples: a trip to the beach to watch the sunset, a walk in the park, watching a funny movie or video, a massage, short walks by the bird refuge, or water coloring, etc. Treat yourself!!! Remember to have your rest time after a chemo treatment.
Take advantage of the weekly Reike or Reflexology services offered at the BCRC. Most Clients find that the therapy helps them relax and feel rejuvenated.
Do whatever you can to get though diagnosis and treatment. ASK FOR HELP. Family, friends, BCRC 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 or blog for you. 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 can be a frightening time and you may get scared reading too much initially. Do not take medical pamphlets or the like to bed with you—choose a good novel instead.
Remember you can always call the BCRC or drop in if you have questions or need support or ideas on how to handle life at home during your treatment.
Take one day at a time.
Go to a place of peace daily...whether it's in the beach, or walking, or in your favorite chair with a cup of tea.
Talk to other survivors.
Attend a 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. The BCRC has some free wigs and hats, and new wigs are available at the Cancer Center through Beth Higgins, or at Kimberly’s downtown. 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. 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. Do not wear perfumes or strong scented lotions during treatment. And don’t hesitate to tell your friends you need a fragrance free environment. 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. Walking may help to decrease nausea.