Welcome to my chemotherapy survival guide! Thank you to Courtney for welcoming me to share my chemotherapy and breast cancer insight with her community. In the summer of 2015, I was diagnosed with stage IIB Triple Positive Breast Cancer at age 27 and I share my experience and life after on my blog MyCancerChic.com. In today’s post, I hope to share some of my insights and tips surrounding the experience of breast cancer.
Chemotherapy is one of the biggest unknowns for patients during the cancer treatment process. It is so foreign and un-relatable for many people. While each person’s chemotherapy experience, the medicine, and the side effects will be slightly different, there are a few key tips that will help you navigate the experience with more confidence.
Prepare your chemo bag
Like packing for a trip, packing a chemo bag can make you feel a little more prepared for the experience. Most chemo days will be extremely long and exhausting so all the things I brought were for entertainment, comfort, and side effect management. You can check out my full chemo bag packing list on my blog.
Pushing fluids during chemo
It’s hard to know what to expect during chemo, but one thing that will be true for everyone is that chemotherapy dehydrates you. Drinking lots of water, green tea (unsweetened), or bone broth* can really help. Drinking lots of liquid before, during, and after chemotherapy sessions can also alleviate feelings of nausea and help flush the toxins out of your body more quickly. Hydrating before blood tests also makes it easier for nurses to access your veins.
Take care of your mental health during chemo
Anxiety, grief, sadness, anger… so much of the cancer experience is mental. While we focus so much on the physical symptoms to expect from chemo, we can gloss over the mental impacts.
All of the emotional trauma is a normal part of the chemo experience, but many people are not prepared. So how do you prepare for the mental impact of your chemotherapy treatment?
- Familiarize yourself with calming breathing exercises. Check out this video guide I led.
Educate yourself on the mental side of cancer can make the feelings themself feel less daunting. You are not alone in these feelings, and they are not abnormal
Read my post about Managing Cancer Induced Stress & Anxiety
Talk to a mental health professional – if the person has experience with cancer patients that is even better (check with your cancer center for referrals)
Talk to your doctor about medications you can try. I have been on a low-dose Citalopram since the end of chemotherapy, and it helped so much. I was also on Ativan for panic attacks during active treatment.
Determine what tools calm you and helps process your emotions. I liked journaling, listening to guided meditation tracks during appointments, and reading inspirational stories