Chemo Tips & Tricks to Help Make Treatment a Little Better

(A beloved family member is starting their chemo journey.  I am re-posting this for him and his family in the hopes they might find some useful information.)

1. For mouth pain-Buy Biotene toothpaste and mouthwash (it’s made for dry mouth sufferers). Using these items helps the mouth pain and helps keep your mouth a little moister. Walgreen’s sells it.

2. For dry skin-Chemo dries out your body quite a bit. Switch to a moisturizing soap like Aveeno. Cetaphil lotion is non-irritating, non-greasy and quick absorbing (my dermatologist recommended these).

3. Adriamycin – The Adriamycin pretty much guarantees hair loss. Mine started falling out on day 14 after my first treatment.

4. For nosebleeds-After about 5 treatments, my mucous starting getting a little bloody, especially in the morning. My Oncologist said to use a saline spray to moisten the nasal passages, but this didn’t work very well for me. I bought a case of the small kid size Gatorades and drank one a day. Problem solved.

5. Nausea – If you get nauseated during a treatment, ask the nurse to slow down the drip (Decadron). Adding 15 minutes to the drip really reduced the discomfort. They didn’t tell me this until about treatment #9.

6. For hip pain-If you’re white cells drop and you have to get Neupogen shots, they can cause a great deal of discomfort. My hips and legs hurt so bad after the shots, Vicodin wouldn’t help. I know this sounds weird, but take an anti-histamine. The pain is caused by a histamine reaction and most of your white cells are produced in your hip region. One Zyrtec later, everything was fine.

7. Numbing Cream – If you don’t have it already, ask for Lidocaine Cream. Apply to your port area 2-3 hours before chemo and cover with Saran Wrap to allow better absorption without messing up your clothes. This numbs the injection site. Also works well for celebratory tatoo when cancer free!

8. For the ladies (Especially if you’re amply endowed) – Before having your port inserted, invest in a sports bra. The weight of your breast can cause the scar to widen because of the pulling during the healing process. I learned this the hard way. When I had my port removed, I explained this to the surgeon and he cut the scar tissue away so I could start with a fresh wound. He found it amusing, but said he had never thought of that (he looked about 20 years old). I explained to him that he only sees us lying down and wouldn’t realize they were D cups when they spread out.:-)

9. Weight Gain – If you gain >15% of your body weight and are not having difficulty with nausea, ask your doctor to decrease your Decadron a little.

10. Nausea – One of my readers used Prilosec to help alleviate nausea during treatment.

11. Tylenol – If you aren’t already given it, ask for Tylenol at the beginning of treatment.  It helps the discomfort of treatment and any headaches from chemo.

If you have any tips and tricks to share, I’d love to hear them and add them to the list. Click on the comments link below and submit them. Please let me know if you found these tips helpful.