Handbook for Chemo-the REAL story!

These past few days I have been getting calls and emails about friends of friends who have cancer and are having trouble eating, sleeping, “hair issues”, nausea, or just those women who think they may have something going on, but the doctor isn’t listening. These handouts, brochures, glossy photos of smiling faces telling you what to eat or drink during chemo are fakes! No one really tells you about the disappearance of hair EVERYWHERE which as I have said does have its advantages in the summer as far as shaving. If you are living in the East coast during the winter, breathing through your nose will be extremely painful and your eyes will water. Dryness everywhere can have a variety of remedies. So where is the real book?  I hate to say I have a top 10 drug list, but for nausea I definitely have a top 3: Sancuso patch, Emend, and Zofran (to take the edge off, but never did much for me all alone).  There are also some key supplements that despite my original belief of stinky pills, I think they do work. Seriously, it should be required that once you “sign up” you get this kit sponsored by pharmaceutical companies because I know they are making a TON of money off me alone. When you have a trifecta, it is triple the money or at least it seems like it! This kit would also contain a beautiful wig in the hair color of your choice, moisturizers, taste buds that you could apply on your tongue, nausea drugs, dental products by Biotene, AND an eyebrow stencil kit. I don’t thinking I am asking much, but EVERY cancer patient should get a vacation trip. I am not thinking cruise around the world, but just a weekend away (okay one night at a wonderful hotel with room service).  I still laugh to myself as I tell one friend of a friend who is complaining about her stomach issues since she started chemo that you just learn to live in the potty. You can enjoy all the comforts inside the potty with potty texting, potty pad (ipad), and beverage. You can even turn up the music or tv. Sorry for the bad visual! Doctors just tell you, “it is a side effect of chemo”. I just want to know what isn’t a side effect of chemo. I am happy that I am at the phase of being some help to others especially since I have my handy dandy notebook of each reaction for each treatment. I did block out most of the reactions with the exception of some horrifying ones (like my out of control texting day or my feeling of having a heart attack day). Instead of the untold story chemo handbook, it could just be a top 10 list. So after my top 3 nausea drugs, it would be my hair(s) which would not have been possible without the help of my cousin Kim in NYC! Then, the eyebrow tips from  some REAL experts, plus the eyebrow stencil kit would be number 5. Digestive enzymes would be up there too otherwise, I would really live in the toilet (honestly) and I think they are part of the reason I kept my weight on. By the way, this list is just a thingy list, not a people list because that would be an entire novel in itself. (the family, the vampires, the stalkers, the lovers, the best best friends, the chefs, the drivers, the playdate-rs….)  Combat boots or other critical footwear is necessary. (#7)  Accessorize  (hats, jewelry, scarves and have a good role model for this) and this will give you happiness and take away the emphasis on the fact that you have no eyebrows or eyelashes OR HAIR! #8. Number 9 would be the other drugs, they may work for some, but I am a light weight (Ativan made me crazy and I slept for 2 days AND that was part of the cause of my text-a-thon) Of course, there are the ‘cets (percocet, darvocet), vicodin, oxycodone, and xanax which I know some people like to sprinkle as seasoning on food. We can’t taste anything anyway, so I doubt it would add any particular flavor, but….Number 10 should be something big, but I can only come up with any beverage you can tolerate. For me, it was and still is, lemon, lemony water. Chemo did not kill those sour taste buds, but it takes a lot of lemon to do the trick. I could continue this list all night, but instead will go to sleep.

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2 Responses to “Handbook for Chemo-the REAL story!”

  1. Patrithia Says:

    Thank you so much for this information! Very helpful and informative (and funny). I am going for my third chemo treatment in two weeks and I’m not sure if I should switch from Emend/Zofran to the patch (or can I use all three at the same time?). Sounds like you liked the patch. Please, any advice would be very helpful as round 2 was harder the round 1 (more nausea) and I would really like to not have round 3 be worse (4 rounds of A/C). Thanks you very much.

    • Joanie Says:

      I have always been very sensitive to nausea. I use all three. The only issue is that anti nausea meds cause constipation. So, you can counter this by doing something before (ie: metamucil, prunes …) or while you take Zofran/emend unlike how I did it. I take the emend after they do my blood work on the 1st day of chemo and continue the other pills as prescribed. Then, on the 2nd day after the chemo, I put the Sancuso patch on. Most the time with the chemo, it has cumulative effects. It always depends on the person. I definitely use all 3 and this has worked for me. Also, I take 4mg of Zofran instead of the 8mg. My doctors said I can take up to 32mg of zofran a day, but never needed that much with emend and sancuso patch. I take the 4mg of zofran to take the edge of the nausea away, so I can actually eat food. Since I pretend to be a doctor or a pharmacist, you should ask your doctor. Usually, you have to figure out what combination works best for you.

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