My Mom finished her chemo treatment a couple of weeks ago (one of the happiest days of my life and of course, of hers, as well). I haven’t had a chance to write about it on here but I did share a vlog revolving around the special day on YouTube.
I wanted to share some tips for you or a loved one to serve as an aid during the difficult and treacherous chemo process. As you may already know, I shared a blog post in October on my Mom having had breast cancer. Chemo was the next step after the removal of the breasts and positive lymph node results. After finishing chemo, another PET scan was done. Yesterday, she went to a radiologist to discuss the results, along with figuring out how much radiation will be needed. We got the amazing news that all is clear and that radiation will not be needed.
I must add that watching my Mom ring the bell at Baptist Hospital a couple of weeks ago was an incredibly emotional and empowering moment. Her strength and determination has made me realize that I can overcome anything. I am eternally grateful that I was able to be with her throughout the whole process; I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
There are those that will never get to ring the bell – those that undergo chemo to survive but cannot, as of yet, be cured. My heart goes out to anyone going through cancer or any other enervating and dreadful disease. I will forever thank God for how blessed we are.
I still to this day think about everything we have endured in this cancer experience and I cannot believe that it is real. I don’t know if it will ever feel “real” but, nonetheless, it is reality. I can be a bit of a hypochondriac but never in my wildest dreams did I think that the sweetest and most selfless person in my life would be diagnosed with breast cancer.
I believe that everything happens for reason. I don’t always know the exact reason or if it really just is one singular reason. I can say it was a learning experience or a wake up call or a test of faith and strength – but the truth is, I don’t know. Whatever the reason is or was it made my family stronger. It helped us remember what is important – love, family, friends, etc.
You know cancer is bad and chemo sucks but going through it is a whole different ball game.
I wish no one had to go through it.
Yes, everyone is different – our bodies are different. Therefore, these tips may help or they won’t, but one thing I know is that it doesn’t hurt to try.
I asked my Mom for some tips to share and this is a list of what we came up with (I will add as we think of more).
- There are different types of chemotherapies and the side effects vary. The first type of chemo my Mom received caused unwavering nausea. The second type (we were told it would be breeze) caused severe pain. Taxol (chemotherapy drug) and Neulasta (Bone marrow stimulant) caused my Mom a lot of pain. She already had an issue with inflammation and pain; going through this definitely amplified it.
- Food! Ok, there are different thoughts when it comes to what you should eat. We were given contradicting advice but at the end of the day, you must do what works for you. Someone told my Mom not to eat food she enjoys after chemo because she may get grossed out and never want to eat it again. Meanwhile, the doctor told her to eat whatever she wants and craves. I would say my Mom ate what she felt like eating and stayed away from foods that grossed her out. It was a bit tricky keeping up with her cravings.
- Keep in mind how serious things can get…My Mom wants to stress this one because it is really important. You must stay healthy and try your best to avoid getting sick while your defenses our low. Wear a mask if you have to (even if it embarrasses you). If a loved one is sick, you will have to stay clear of them until the sickness passes.
- Chemotherapy will debilitate you – be prepared! My Mom is the type of person that likes to do her own thing and hates to ask for help. She received great advice from a friend that cared for her mother while she had breast cancer – let your daughters help you!
- Dry Skin – lotion it up! My Mom used Udderly Smooth because that is what was recommended to her. If you already have a lotion you vibe with, use that.
- For a dry mouth, use Biotene! My Mom read up on how this is a necessity, so she bought it before she even started chemo.
- When to cut your hair/shave your head – the easy answer is sooner rather than later (we were told to do so after the 2nd chemo). Seeing the chunks of her hair fall out was not easy for her. I cut her hair to shoulder length level and she kept it for a couple of days before shaving it off.
- Don’t be afraid of how you will look bald. There is something powerful about rocking no hair (i.e. Charlize Theron in ‘Mad Max’, Natalie Portman in ‘V for Vendetta’, and Millie Bobby Brown in ‘Stranger Things’). I must say, my Mom looks great without her locks.
- Utilize Amazon for turbans, scarves, hats and other head accessories. My Mom got some really nice, fashionable ones.
- For the weird taste in your mouth – gum, mints, or whatever works for you. My mom got really into sweets (not the healthiest option, but it helped).