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Chemo Savvy Tips

As someone who went through chemotherapy for nearly 6 years, Chris shared her own thoughts on how to cope with the side effects of treatment. 

1. Try to relax while taking treatment. Headphones or good conversation can take your mind off of the drugs. Embrace the drug. Don’t think of it as toxic, let it do its work. 

2. Pamper and reward yourself! Even something small is special. Maybe a goal after your chemo journey, like a trip or weekend away. Why wait? Break up the rounds of chemo with a “chemo get-away” or “retail therapy” (shopping). You will come back refreshed.

3. I was shocked at the high cost of my drugs. Repeat after me “I am worth it!”

4. IMPORTANT: You will not get all of the symptoms listed on the chemo handouts!

5. When life gives you lemons...drink some lemonade or suck on lemon drops.  It really is refreshing and I could taste it. Sucking on hard candy when they flush your mediport or line is helpful. (Not suggested if you have mouth sores.) Also, remember to drink plenty of fluids after every treatment.

6. Cut a fresh lemon in half when scents around the home make you feel “urpsy”.  It neutralizes the unwanted odors. Also, mild soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste can be found in your local grocery store or online.

7. Mouth sores? Holding ice or a popsicle in your mouth when getting your chemo can help reduce mouth sores.

8. This is a “germ-free zone”! Wash your hands often when your white cell count is low. It’s not a bad idea to have all your guests wash their hands as well.

9. If smells from the kitchen send you running, have someone bring you in a meal. It will allow someone to feel good about helping you out. Eat whatever sounds good or tastes good to you. Now is not the time to diet. (Try to remember the comfort foods from your youth)

10. Stay ahead of the nausea. Don’t wait to feel sick before taking your anti-nausea drugs.  Listen to your nurse or pharmacist for scheduling your medicine. Anti-nausea drugs can cause headaches and constipation. Make a mental note of your week and adjust your next treatment accordingly. 

11. When your hair starts to fall out, it may feel like you have a sore head much like a headache. Shaving your head at that time may help. Also, it’s the “losing of your hair” that’s the hardest. Once it really starts to fall out, you may want to just shave it and get it over with. 

12. If you are tired, rest and let people help you. Remember it helps them too, as they feel helpless. When you are overtired everything seems worse. Life is worth the fight!

13. Get many hugs from all. Hugs heal!

14. Talk to others undergoing chemo. It really helps to share information and know that you have the same feelings and symptoms. A support group is a great resource or your hospital’s learning library. 

15. The best advice I ever received was “to remember to set short-term goals and take it one day at a time. Do or take whatever you need to get through this time, and most importantly, “Choose Hope.”



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