Breast Cancer Treatment Surviving Chemotherapy

Breast Cancer Treatment: Surviving Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is​ a​ word that strikes fear into most of​ our hearts .​
We've seen the​ movies and​ heard such horrible stories about undergoing this difficult treatment for​ a​ disease that could very well kill us .​
I​ underwent chemo for​ breast cancer and​ know that, in​ some cases, the​ cancer isn't hard … it​ isn't painful … it​ doesn't make us sick .​
That's the​ case for​ most of​ us who have breast cancer, but don't have distant metastases .​
But then, they say we need to​ do chemo and​ we know we'll feel that.
Although chemo drugs haven't changed that much, and​ they're still terribly hard on our bodies, the​ management drugs have changed a​ lot .​
Chemotherapy, for​ many of​ us, isn't the​ show-stopper we thought it​ would be .​
of​ course, each of​ us is​ different and​ the​ chemo drugs affect each of​ us in​ different ways, but, for​ the​ most part, chemo is​ definitely doable .​

My breast cancer was Stage IIIa, with a​ 5.8 cm tumor, 8 of​ 10 lymph nodes positive, and​ I​ was only 39 years old .​
That bought me a​ ticket for​ the​ chemo ride .​
and​ I​ was scared out of​ my wits .​
But, I​ found an​ online breast cancer support group, at​ WebMD, and​ those women told me everything to​ expect and​ more .​
I​ went through four rounds of​ adriamycin and​ cytoxan .​
Both of​ them are some pretty stout breast cancer chemo drugs .​
After that, I​ did a​ controversial treatment that involved extremely high doses of​ cytoxan, taxol, and​ cisplatin, so I​ learned quite a​ bit about surviving chemotherapy.
First of​ all, I​ would highly recommend getting a​ port .​
This is​ a​ line that goes into a​ vein in​ your chest, the​ entrance to​ which sits just under your skin, right below your collarbone .​
It requires a​ quick surgery to​ put it​ in​ but, if​ you're having a​ mastectomy for​ your breast cancer, you can get the​ chemo port put in​ at​ the​ same time .​
if​ you choose not to​ do that, you'll have to​ get your chemo treatments through your veins and​ chemo is​ really hard on your veins .​
This means that you will, most likely, have to​ endure multiple attempts for​ them to​ find a​ vein, as​ time goes by .​
With the​ port, it's already in​ a​ vein, so all they have to​ do is​ stick the​ needle into the​ port to​ access it .​
if​ you find this uncomfortable, there is​ a​ cream they can give you called Emla cream .​
One of​ the​ first things I​ learned was to​ tell them the​ moment I​ was uncomfortable .​
It's all fixable .​
You'll put the​ Emla cream on a​ bit before you have to​ have your port accessed and​ it'll numb your skin.
Most breast cancer chemotherapy drugs will cause your hair to​ fall out .​
This is​ because chemo kills the​ rapidly dividing cells in​ your body .​
Your mucous areas and​ hair follicles are affected for​ this reason .​
That's why you may have nausea or​ develop mouth or​ throat sores .​
Again, all this sounds scary, but is​ totally manageable .​
Since you will probably be losing your hair, which can be quite traumatic, I​ would advise going wig or​ hat shopping before you even get your first chemo .​
Take a​ girlfriend with you and​ be adventurous .​
Try on different styles, and​ even colors .​
if​ you've always wanted to​ be a​ blonde, now's your chance! Make a​ day of​ it​ and​ have fun with it .​
Goodness knows, you have to​ look for​ that silver lining every chance you get .​
Also, make sure to​ have your nausea med prescription filled before you go so you'll have it​ waiting for​ you if​ you need it​ at​ home .​
You may be pretty tired, afterward, so don't wait till then to​ get those meds.
On your first chemo day, they will probably give you some steroids, intravenously or​ through your port, to​ help with the​ nausea .​
This may make you hungry; it​ sure did for​ me! But, I​ would recommend you don't eat your favorite food on chemo day .​
Chemo is​ manageable, but after you're all done, you may find that you have associations .​
for​ example, I​ used to​ love the​ cucumber melon fragrance when I​ was going through chemo .​
I​ had cucumber melon everything! But, to​ this day, the​ smell of​ cucumber melon makes my stomach do a​ little somersault because it​ reminds me of​ such an​ unpleasant time in​ my life .​
the​ same can happen with food .​
I​ still can't look a​ chicken burrito in​ the​ eye! But, I'm sure glad I​ didn't eat a​ taco because I​ would've hated for​ that to​ be ruined for​ me!
Many breast cancer chemo drugs are hard on your bladder, so be sure to​ drink, drink, drink .​
if​ you don't feel like drinking water, then broth, jello, or​ even popsicles will help .​
Since you've gotten your nausea meds all filled in​ advance, be sure to​ take them as​ prescribed, whether you think you need them or​ not .​
Chemo nausea isn't just any kind of​ nausea and​ it's much easier to​ stay ahead of​ it​ than to​ try to​ fix it​ once it​ occurs .​
if​ you do happen to​ get nauseated, and​ I​ can't stress this enough, call your doctor!!! There are many, many nausea meds and​ you do not have to​ feel sick just because you're doing chemo .​
Once they find the​ right drug for​ you, it​ will be so much easier .​
So, do not suffer this in​ silence! the​ same applies for​ if​ you get sores in​ your mouth or​ throat.
You will be tired from this treatment .​
Most of​ us get more tired as​ the​ treatments progress because they make our white blood cell counts drop really low .​
Because of​ this, it's a​ good idea to​ keep some Purell, or​ something similar, with you all the​ time for​ use when you've had to​ touch, for​ example, public restroom door handles .​
Your risk of​ infection will be much higher during this time.
If you lose your hair, it​ will typically happen in​ 10-14 days after your first chemo treatment .​
if​ you have long hair, you might want to​ cut it​ short in​ preparation .​
I​ know I​ felt so out of​ control of​ everything, during that time .​
When your hair comes out, it​ lets go quickly and​ in​ large clumps, getting all over your pillow and​ clogging your drain .​
for​ many women, that is​ more traumatic than even losing a​ breast .​
So, I​ figured that was the​ one thing I​ could control about this whole breast cancer thing … when my hair came out .​
I​ cut it​ really short, beforehand and, when it​ started to​ let go, I​ had my husband get the​ clippers and​ shave my head .​
My daughter helped and​ we did a​ little Mohawk and​ stripe action first!
That was my way of​ shaking my fist at​ this cancer … it​ might take my breasts, and​ it​ might take my hair for​ a​ while, but I​ beat it​ to​ the​ punch! It was my way of​ saying, You cannot take my spirit! You can do the​ same thing .​
Your breast cancer does not define you .​
It is​ but a​ speed bump in​ the​ course of​ your life .​
Strap on your gloves and​ step into the​ ring .​
This chemo is​ your biggest punch .​
Your spirit is​ your own and​ that breast cancer can't touch it!

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