Tips for Starting Chemotherapy

Tips for Starting Chemotherapy

By Breast Cancer Connect Staff Published at November 21 Views 10,059

Each person will experience chemotherapy differently. Some may face several side effects, while others will encounter few to none. Either way, your well-being is especially important during this time. These tips can help you stay as healthy and comfortable as possible during treatment.

Before You Begin Chemo

Sometimes, side effects can make it tough to stay on top of your everyday routine. Consider taking care of a few things before starting chemotherapy.

Get your teeth cleaned. During teeth cleaning and other dental procedures, bacteria from your mouth can get into your bloodstream. Since chemo weakens your immune system, you are more vulnerable to infections caused from these bacteria. Many doctors recommend getting a dental check-up and cleaning before you begin chemotherapy.

Be prepared for hair loss. You may start to see some hair loss two to three weeks after starting chemo. You can wear a wig, scarf, or hat – or you may not want to cover your head at all. Some people cut their hair short. If you buy a wig, get it while you have hair to better match the color and style.

Join a support group. It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about chemotherapy. A support group can offer a safe place to share your fears as well as coping strategies with others facing the same concerns.

During Chemotherapy

These quick tips can help you during treatment.
Pass the time during treatments. Chemo at a hospital or a clinic can take anywhere from one to several hours. To help pass the time, bring something to do, whether it’s a book you’ve been meaning to read, your iPod or laptop, a journal, or some knitting.

Ask for help with daily chores. Fatigue is a common side effect of chemo.

Ask a loved one to help manage the daily tasks you normally do. Plan activities — like grocery shopping, business meetings or travel — for the times when you feel best.

Manage nausea and indigestion. Eating small, light meals can ease nausea. Starchy foods like rice, toast with nut butters, potatoes, and hot cereals are usually well-tolerated. Sipping peppermint tea or munching on crystallized ginger can also keep nausea at bay. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Relieve mouth sores. Some types of chemo can cause sores in your mouth and throat. Avoid foods that are spicy or overly heated. Mouth rinses can help. Ask your care provider to recommend a non-alcohol based mouthwash that won’t irritate your mouth.

Once you go through the first treatment cycle, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and can plan accordingly. Talk with your care team about any side effects or problems you encounter, as they can often find a way to help you.

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