Preparing for Chemo

Fly Like a Butterfly

Fly Like a Butterfly

How exactly does a person prepare for chemotherapy? My stomach has been in knots on and off, in apprehension of starting chemotherapy later this week (Friday morning to be precise). It seems that every time someone asks when it is starting, my blood flow freezes.

Is it better to go in ‘blind’ I pondered, or informed? My choice is always to be well-informed, so I’m not about to change at this point. Knowing the good, the bad and the ugly prevents most unpleasant surprises.

Perusing through the leaflets and booklets that the oncologist sent me home with, the one that stood out was titled Safety at Home After Chemotherapy. It includes a list of safety guidelines for 48 hours after receiving chemo. They include a few jaw-dropping points such as:

  • Sit to use the toilet. Close the lid and flush the toilet twice after going to the bathroom;
  • Wear latex disposable gloves and use paper towels at all times while cleaning up any waste (vomit, urine, stool) or handling soiled items;
  • Place all items in a sealed plastc bag and put in garbage when you are finished with them;
  • Avoid having soiled articles come in contact with your clothing;
  • Use a condom during sexual intercourse to protect your partner. (As IF that’s going to happen within 48 hours!)

Why do I feel like I should be shipped to Chernobyl?

Friends who have gone through this tsunami-like treatment before me, describe symptoms such as the following:

  • Losing hair (not exactly a surprise);
  • Losing eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hairs, leg hair and any other bodily hair you can possibly think of. While it will be awesome to not have to shave my legs or armpits for a while, other hairs have more of a purpose – like the ones in your nose!
  • Neuropathy of the hands and/or feet;
  • Mouth ulcers;
  • Achy bones;
  • Nausea, vomitting;
  • Increased risk of infection (one friend had H1N1 due to a depleted immune system!)
  • Toe nails and finger nails may fall off;
  • Memory and concentration problems (already experiencing both of these as a result of information overload and just being overwhelmed by it all!);
  • Sleep problems (have had these for a while too, so that will be nothing new!).

Everything surrounding C IS  fear-based: doing chemo treatments; not doing chemo. Doing the holistic route; not doing it. Doing nothing. A large part of my ‘gut instinct’ in this comes with the feeling that the Universe is guiding me here – and that is what has ultimately helped me make the difficult C decisions thus far. We have to believe we are being guided from above – or we would all do nothing, simply due to the mass amount of fear involved. The big C IS a scary thing – absolutely no doubt about it! If you do nothing, you WILL DIE.

My doctors have informed me that chemotherapy has very positive results with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). The Mayo Clinic also has reported that immunotherapy is also proving to be very beneficial with TNBC – and in some cases showing ‘dramatic results’. Thus, I’m choosing both. I will be supporting my immune system via my naturopath while I receive chemotherapy. I feel like I’m going into this with a global football team surrounding me – empowered by knowledge and buoyed by as much support as anyone could ever ask for! Look out C, the D-Team is coming in :-)!

“It is your REACTION to ADVERSITY, not the adversity itself, that DETERMINES how your LIFE’S STORY will develop.” ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

*Photo credit: The photo in this blog is one of many amazing photos sent to me from a dear friend in Panama who lifts many of my days with the beauty of his photography :-).

About denisemacdonald

I am a Canadian entrepreneur who has been spending the majority of my time between Canada and Panama, Central America. Living oceanfront, I am an 'investment consultant', predominantly in the area of real estate in the beaches areas. Photography is my hobby. In April, 2014 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I will be sharing my journey here on these 'pages'. If you would like to learn more about "Triple Negative" breast cancer, please click onto
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9 Responses to Preparing for Chemo

  1. A zmmit says:

    I think you are very brave and find your blog very interesting an informative, especially the fact tht you actually share your feelings very honestly helps because Zi have my brother undergoing chemo t the moment and he sys very little, so it useful to her it from someone lose, good luck for Friday, we I will be hinting and praying of o God Blessxxx

  2. Cheryl Newell says:

    One thing that I did which I highly suggest for you is to have a hand gel wash at the front door so anyone who visits does not bring any germs into your home. You will be very sensitive to infection so keep yourself safe.

    • Thanks Cheryl! I actually had some friends who have also gone through a C journey bring me a nice bottle of hand sanitizer for exactly that reason – to have it at my front door for visitors! Hugs to you and Brian!

  3. kmorto says:

    Thinking of you and wishing you a full and healthy recovery.

  4. Nancy Tozer says:

    Denise, you are off on an amazing adventure (that most would not choose, and many could not handle). The Universe has brought this challenge to you for a reason that no mere mortal can understand. Let the river flow, pay attention to all you feel, and you will come out stronger, wiser, and even more wonderful than you are now. Much love to you!

    • Thank you Nancy. I feel many of those things flowing now, and it is amazing how your perspective on the world changes as a result. Overcoming fear is huge, and with each step, I’m doing just that. And my view on the ‘trivial’ things in life is also changing – in leaps and bounds. Hugs to you my friend!

  5. Darlene Sage says:

    Good Day Denise! Just a short note to say Bob and I are thinking of you each day! We pray for your continuing healing.

    Perhaps a small tip for you. When my sister was going through Chemo she experienced a terrible “tin” taste when she ate. It was suggested to her to try eating with plastic cutlery. It did help her to enjoy her food more, even though eating was difficult. I realize everyone is different but I thought I would pass this along to you.

    Hoping each and everyday is positive for you … keep up your wonderful spirit!!

    Love always, Darlene and Bob Sage

    • Thank you for your sweet thoughts and blessings Darlene – and for your card! Thankfully I haven’t had the tin taste yet, but certain things I find one day do not necessarily apply to the next day, so I’ll keep that in mind for sure!

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