Preparing for chemotherapy and breast reconstruction following the diagnosis of breast cancer

Preparing for chemotherapy and breast reconstruction following the diagnosis of breast cancer

Get Prepared!

  • Visit your dentist before chemotherapy begins.
  • Buy a wig that suits you before you lose your hair.
  • Read only the material your Physicians give you.
  • Have the following on hand at home:
    • Large sized high end body lotion (i.e.: Eucerin) ; skin will be dry
    • Your favorite hard candy/ peppermints (water does not taste good while on chemotherapy. Sucking on a peppermint or your favorite hard candy while drinking water helps you to drink more of it)
    • Stock up on your favorite soups
    • Soft tooth brush/Sensodine tooth paste
    • Hand sanitizer ( for you and anyone around you)
    • Gelato/Popsicles/sherbet (they taste good and sooth your mouth)
    • Flavored oatmeal
    • Comfortable clothes and shoes

Once chemotherapy begins..

  • Get your hair cut after the first treatment. It will start falling out after the third treatment. Spare the mess and sad feelings.
  • DO NOT eat raw vegetables or fruits that you do not peel (i.e.:strawberries/blueberries) No potato skins. You are very sensitive to introducing bacteria to your GI tract!
  • Do not eat from a buffet! No raw or undercooked seafood, poultry or red meat!
  • Take Immodium if you experience diarrhea
  • Avoid all people with colds, flu and small children. You are vulnerable to infection!
  • Use body lotion every day
  • Expect your finger nails to become thin and weak. Keep them short.
  • Keep your mouth clean! It helps with the bad taste in your mouth. If you develop white coating on the back of your tongue, call your physician, it may be Thrush and there is medication to treat that.
  • Eat bland foods (even if you don’t feel like eating. Make it a challenge! You must eat and drink!)
  • Take your anti-nausea medication BEFORE you are nauseated.
  • Get Claritin in the house. (If you need a Neulasta or Neupogin injection to boost your WBCs, take Claritin 1 hour before the injection and it relieves the side effects.. Don’t ask how it works…No one knows but, it does!)
  • Wearing a soft hat or turbin keeps your head warm.
  • Take it slow! You are going to feel fatigue and aching. Ask your physician if you can take Extra Strength Tylenol. It really helps.
  • Drink a lot of water! I can’t stress that enough. Nothing will taste good but, you must eat and drink. I considered it my job!
  • Best to eat bland foods such as buttered noodles, the inside of baked potatoes, soups, stews, grilled cheese are good. Highly spiced or crunchy foods may not agree with you. Your mouth is sensitive.
  • Focus on a short term goal every day. It may be as simple as consuming all of your water or eating three meals. Your stomach may not growl, but you must eat!
  • Make a long term goal and think about that and plan for it every day. Remember: “This too shall pass”
  • Plan a trip, an outing, an event that will happen after chemotherapy.
  • I planned a trip to Las Vegas and put away the money I saved by not going out during chemotherapy. I took that trip and it was wonderful!
  • Finally, let family and friends do things for you. Just say, “yes!” They want to help. They may want to cook or clean your house. Let them! It makes them feel good and you will feel good as well. Don’t be a hero. People love you. Let them show you!

Getting prepared for your mastectomy

  • Remember, “it’s only skin” Those words used by my breast surgeon stuck with me and helped me cope.
  • Get a camisole with inner pockets to hold your drains post-operatively. Bring this to the hospital. It makes tolerating the drains much more comfortable. Ask your breast surgeons office staff about obtaining one.
  • Bring a button down blouse to the hospital.
  • Bras that fasten in the front are far more comfortable.
  • Be comfortable! Take your pain medication if you need it.
  • Breast reconstruction is a process that takes time. Be patient! You went through the most difficult part of the journey (chemotherapy)
  • Your sense of taste is coming back! Enjoy! It’s amazing how good food tastes. Don’t over do it now!
  • Follow your surgeon’s instructions and enjoy life again!

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