It is definitely worth taking some time to get prepared for the chemotherapy journey in advance of your first chemotherapy treatment. Not only will it help on a practical level by ensuring you have everything you need, but it will also reduce any stress from not being prepared – anything to avoid stress is a good thing. So, take a deep breath, pop the kettle on, make a nice cup of (green) tea and over the next few sections of the website are your go-to checklists for chemo p&p. I start here with visiting the chemo ward and looking after your low immunity.
1. An induction to chemo: visit the chemo ward and chat to the nurses
Most hospitals invite you to have a tour of the chemo ward before your first chemo session. Go to this. It is invaluable because you get to see where you will be having your chemo, how you will be having the chemo and the nurses will give you advice on a whole range of things from possible side effects to what to wear. Go armed with your list of questions and take a notepad and pen to jot down any information that you are given.
For a suggested list of questions to ask, take a look at the blog post: What to ask the chemo nurses before your first chemo cycle
2. A welcome with antibacterial hand wash: Protecting your low immunity
Your immunity is low during chemotherapy (because some of your lovely healthy infection-fighting cells are zapped by the chemo) so it is important to take steps to avoid infections and viruses, especially where you have young children in the house (children are basically mobile germ carriers). You might want to consider getting the following:
· Antibacterial hand gel for each room in the house, especially next to front door so that whenever someone comes in the house they can clean their hands (including you, family members coming home, visitors and post men/delivery people who come into the house or into contact with you at home.)
· Antibacterial hand gel in car and handbag.
· Antibacterial wipes around the house and in the car.
· Antibacterial wipes in handbag for wiping trolley handles, public toilet door handles etc.
Much to my children’s annoyance, I also popped small hand gels in their school bags.
Warn friends, family and everyone who is helping you out that they should avoid you if they are ill. It is a bit embarrassing to send a visitor away because they arrive full of a cold but you need to think of yourself and send them on their way.
And maybe consider getting yourself and your household family members the flu jab if it is coming up to flu season (check with your oncologist first).
If you do get a high temperature you absolutely have to call the hospital straight away.
Note: my number 1 tip for someone about to embark upon chemotherapy or already undergoing it is to get a copy of “Braving Chemo: What to Expect, How to Prepare and How to Get Through It” by Beverly A. Zavaleta MD (available from Amazon and other book stores). For my full review of this book see Breast Cancer Book Reviews.