Saturday, September 7, 2013

Chemo Helpers

My body has gone awry from the entire experience of cancer, including each chemo treatment.  I just wanted to share a few things I found helpful or am trying for anyone going through similar problems.

*Kindly remember, I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice. 

  • Yogurt has become my friend.  It kinda already was, but now I try to remember to have yogurt everyday.  Read on some of the benefits to the cancer patient here: - National Yogurt Association
  • Keep a routine.  My morning routine includes brushing my teeth, eating breakfast and taking my pills.  Then I rest and watch tv/check emails.  After that, I take a shower (and there is a whole routine for that).  It makes the day go faster, and it helps me maintain some normalcy. Routines help keep us from forgetting things, like pills, dressing changes, etc.  
  • Soft foods are great.  I don't know if all cancers have to look out for mouth sores, but with APL, the doctors were always checking.  When my counts are down, I am prone to more mouth sores.  To avoid this issue, we keep soft foods stocked always.  Pudding cups, jello, liver sausage, soft bread, soft snack cakes, yogurt, mac and cheese, etc.  Most of these also help with nausea.
  • Know where your anti nausea pills are at all times.  Whether you take Compazine, Zofran, or another med, you need to know where there are because nausea will strike at any time.  Its good to have the other adults in the house know where they are, too, just in case you don't feel well enough to get up the stairs or walk down the hall.
  • Lotions, Lotions, Lotions.  Yes, I have an arsenal of lotions.  I have to integrate them into my routine.  Chapped/dry or peeling skin, try Eucerin Aquaphor.  Lips, try Neosporin overnight lip cream.  Down there issues, take home the cream from the hospital.  Peeling feet and hands (PPE) try Eucerin Aquaphor (the thick one).
  • Staying hydrated- unless you are on liquid restrictions, they usually want you to drink a lot.  If you like soda (pop), but are trying to cut down, try mixing Pellegrino sparkling mineral water with fruit juice or Gatorade.  I like orange gatorade mixed with Pellegrino myself.
  • Rest when you are tired.  There have been days I slept 10 hours straight.  Hey, you are sick, and this is how your body heals.
  • Walking is important.  I'm finding out right now stretching is just as important.  Be careful if you have a central line, like I do.  Amazon Prime has a few beginner yoga videos you can stream from your computer or tablet and try to keep your muscles and joints from turning to mush.  Don't overdo it, though.  Talk to your doctor about exercise, too.
  • Don't be afraid to wear a mask in public if your counts are lower than normal.  I wear a mask everywhere (when my counts are high enough to leave the house).  I go to the grocery store, bank, target, walgreens, gas station...all in my mask and I don't care.  Actually, at first I felt funny, and then I was sad, because people stayed away from me. Then I realized the benefit--- people get out of my way and are extra nice!!  There is no shame in protecting yourself from potential germs that could make your warrior training even harder than it already is!  They sell masks at Walgreens and pharmacies, but the hospital will give you a few boxes if you ask when you are discharged. 
  • Sunblock if you go outside.  Everyone's chemo is different.  Chemo is tailored to your diagnosis, age, weight, doctor's recommendations, etc.  However, all chemo makes your skin sensitive!  Don't chance it!
  • Lysol or Clorox sani wipes in every bathroom you use!  Every morning, I sani wipe my bathroom sink, toilet, and light switches.  Hey, your counts go up and down, and again, why make things worse?  Besides, its good to be proactive.
  • BOOST or ENSURE drinks are great if you don't have an appetite, losing weight, sore throat, or not hungry.  They come in all different flavors, I like strawberry (tastes like a strawberry shake) and chocolate.  They taste best VERY cold.  Add some ice cubes or put in the freezer for 20 minutes before drinking. 
  • Sour candies can help when you can't taste.  My first round of chemo everything tasted like metal, even my own saliva in my mouth.  The other rounds of chemo, it felt like my taste buds were asleep, nothing I ate had much flavor.  But, sour patch kids and lemonheads candies (to me) woke up my sweet and sour taste spots on my tongue.  I think it helped me. 
  • Prayer helps.  There was an old man at chemo that would get all crabby when someone would say they are praying for another.  Even if you aren't spiritual or religious, people will tell you they are praying for you or they keep you in their prayers.  I've gotten cards from distant relatives who have had mass for me at their church.  Listen:  knowing people want to pray for you means you are important to them.  Its something they can do to help you, its a nice gesture, and it doesn't hurt.  Heck, I believe it really helped me.  I welcome all prayers and nice thoughts in my recovery.  I feel honored, actually, that I mean that much to someone for them to pray for me.  God works in mysterious ways.  Besides, if someone tells you they are praying for you, how hard is it to just say, "Thank you."??
  • Keep a notebook or calendar marked with all appointments and how you felt that day.  Doctors like to know gross stuff, like the last time you went potty, how it looked, did it hurt, etc. 
  • Keep hand sanitizer and use it.  Even if you aren't scared of germs, you will be surprised at how suddenly you become aware of what you touch before you touch your food/face/rub your eyes.
  • Get the biggest pill case you can find.  Everyone who has cancer takes pills.  My pill case is 7 days, with 4 boxes for each day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime. 

I hope this helps!

No comments:

Post a Comment