6 Tips to Make Your First Chemo Session a Little Better

Chemo can be a scary experience, and that first session is full of unknowns. No matter how many people you know who have been through it, how many online articles you read, and how much you talk to your doctor, there will still be things you just can’t prepare for. Chemo has many side-effects and everyone responds differently, so your experience will likely be a little bit different than many other people’s.

By arming yourself with knowledge and tips, you can come to your first chemo session prepared like a pro. Check out these six tips to make your first experience with chemo just a little bit more bearable.

Be Prepared!

Arrange for a friend or taxi to drive you to and from your first appointment. The night before, organize any medical or insurance information you may need to bring with you. Don’t wear any perfume, because your sense of smell (or the sense of those around you) might become especially sensitive. But definitely do wear deodorant for the same reason!

Photo: Adobe Stock/Lydie stock
Photo: Adobe Stock/Lydie stock

Arrive Early and Have Patience

Blood will have to be drawn to ensure your white blood cells are up for the challenge of handling chemo. Your blood will be drawn and tested, and then your particular cocktail for chemo will have to be prepared.

This means a lot of waiting around, so make sure you come prepared with plenty of diversions to pass the time: a favorite book or audiobook, a fully-loaded iPod, a beloved friend, or a game on your phone can help pass the time. Which brings us to our next point…

Bring a Survival Kit

Your body is going to be going through a lot during chemo, so take this opportunity to think about yourself and what you can do to be comfortable. We love the idea of wearing a warm robe or wrapping up in a favorite blanket. Spa socks and eye pillows are also great for promoting relaxation during this stressful time. Don’t forget a few calming albums on that iPod!

Chemo can also dry out your skin, so don’t forget some lotion and lip balm!

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Eat and Drink!

Chemo can leave a weird, metallic taste in your mouth that impacts the flavor of every food and drink you consume, and you can sometimes get mouth sores from it as well. Some women have found that a popsicle or hard candies can help combat those side effects. You might experience nausea, though, so don’t pack anything to eat that might upset your stomach.

Water becomes especially unpalatable during chemo, but it’s very important to stay hydrated so you can flush toxins from your body. Some find that a slice of lemon can make it taste better. Others have had success with Kool Aid. Ginger and peppermint tea can help fight nausea in addition to being tasty drinks. The point here is to stay hydrated!

Photo: Adobe Stock/shersor
Photo: Adobe Stock/shersor

Know the Procedure

When it’s time for treatment, a nurse will first start an IV for you. Once it’s clear that it’s working, they’ll use it to administer the chemo. There’s no pain during the chemo treatment itself. It usually lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.

Take Care of Yourself Post-Chemo

Once the treatment is over, you can go home. You might feel fine as you leave the office, but eventually the anti-nausea drugs will wear off. Don’t wait to take your meds until you feel bad! Follow your doctor’s orders; you won’t regret it.

Did we miss anything with this list? Let us know in the comments!

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