Adriamycin Cytoxan Chemotherapy is how thousands of people get directed to my Blog. One of my top searches is from people ready to start Adriamycin Cytoxan Chemo who are afraid. I was absolutely terrified so I completely understand. The day I began A/C Chemo was the most frightening day of my life. I knew it was not nicknamed “Red Devil” and “Red Death” for nothing.
Before I began A/C Chemo my fears were that I would die during the first infusion, that I would become so nauseated I wouldn’t be able to make it home without vomiting, and that I would be knocked out from fatigue before I even left the chemo area. None of those fears proved to be true.
Here is what I wish I knew before I started Adriamycin Cytoxan Chemotherapy:
1) When you get to the Chemo Infusion area, it is nicer than you imagine. The hospitals and breast centers try to make it really comfortable for the patient. The Chemo Nurses are fabulous and especially on your first chemo infusion, they are practically glued to your side explaining what is going to happen to help you eliminate your fears.
2) There are numerous preliminary drugs administered via IV before Adriamycin is given. These are anti-anxiety drugs, anti-nausea drugs, steroids and allergy drugs. They gave me Ativan which did help relax me a little. I wish I would have had it for a week before I started chemo.
3) Many precautions are taken by the Chemo Nurses to make sure you are getting the correct drugs. You will be asked your name and date of birth many, many times. Plus, an additional nurse comes in to check and recheck your drugs and dosage. I always asked to see the drugs themselves to triple check. No one minded at all and at my infusion center at the University of Michigan. They were happy I cared about my treatment.
4) When the nurse comes to administer A/C Chemo, she will have a cap, gown, and gloves on. This is to protect her. It is a normal procedure, but is a little bit scarey to see. The Adriamycin is red in color and will be administered from tubes directly into your port or veins. The Chemo nurses are well trained. The dosage you receive will be based upon your weight and body mass. They are always checking your weight pre-chemo to make sure you haven’t lost or gained weight which would change your dosage.
5) I did not feel anything right away while the drug was being administered. The Chemo Nurse warned me when I went to the bathroom, the A/C would turn my urine pinkish red. I always have to go to the bathroom especially when being given IV drugs. My urine turned pink right away and this lastest for 24 hours. They told me to flush the toilet with the lid down at least twice, wipe off the toilet seat, and then to wash my hands with soap for 25 seconds. If you are sharing a toilet with other family members, take appropriate precautions.
6) They gave me food during A/C chemo like bagels and juice. I can’t stand bagels anymore, but that is another issue! They also gave me ice chips. Eating ice chips during chemo cuts down on mouth sores. And most of all, DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER!! Drink at least 8 glasses of water the day before, the day of, and the days after Chemo. It helps get the toxins out quickly. The Chemo Nurse told me the A/C Chemo does its work almost instantly.
7) I was at the infusion center 4 to 5 hours during A/C chemo on average.
8) When the chemo was finished, they released me immediately. I knew I had to come back for the Neulasta shot (to keep up the blood counts) on the next day. Also, they had given me several anti-nausea meds to take if I felt ill.
9) Because of the steroids, you feel pretty darn good the first couple of days, energetic and kind of hyper. At least I did. I did not feel any nausea until Day 3 after the drugs. Then I immediately began the anti-nausea meds at the first sign of any nausea.
Because I had a hard time finding cute chemo caps all in one place, I started a store – http://www.hellocourage.com Please check out my store and cute chemo caps. Also, another favorite of customers is the Breast Pillow which protects your Chemo Port and surgery site while riding in the car! I still use mine everyday!
10) I had a little bit of a headache the first night after A/C, but I did sleep. I remember thinking, “What if I don’t wake up?” It was still very frightening as I did not know what to expect.
11) The next day I felt very energetic, a little drugged, but overall, okay. The Neulasta shot stings when they give you the shot, but that is fleeting. Some people experience bone pain from the Neulasta shot. Talk to your Oncologist about this. I was able to take Motrin to help with the bone pain.
12) I wish I could minimize the side effects, but I cannot. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.I had many side effects. Some would last only a day. Others were for the duration. Extreme fatigue is usually something most everyone has. I was tired during #1 A/C, but didn’t get extreme fatigue until #2. Also, I had dose dense A/C (every 2 weeks). Many people get A/C every 3 weeks, which gives you more recuperation time. I wish I could sugar coat the side effects. I cannot. But amazingly, they get better rather quickly once you are finished.
13) For me, side effects were more cumulative. I started slowly and they got progressively worse during the 4 A/C treatments. One important thing to remember, the steroids and strong chemo drugs affect your brain and your moods. Don’t be alarmed if you feel mean, angry or depressed. IT WILL GO AWAY! Prepare your family and friends for this. I wrote a separate post about Mood Swings.
14) While you are in the middle of A/C, you swear it will never end. Many times, I wanted to quit it and didn’t care if I lived or died. Those are the cold, hard facts. You may feel that way, you may not. If you do, feel the feelings. You are not alone in these feelings. But you feel so alone because NO ONE UNDERSTANDS unless they have gone through Adriamycin Chemotherapy. Even the most understanding people, cannot relate to what you are enduring.
Most people who have gone through Adriamycin have felt all these emotions. You can get through it one day at a time. That is such an overused phrase, but it is so true in this case. And memories of it will fade. I promise!
15) One important thing to remember about side effects. Call your Oncologist immediately if something happens that really feels scarey. I was told to make sure I didn’t have a temperature. My face became very, very red for 3 days after A/C chemo and burning hot. No one warned me about it. It seemed kind of extreme. I called the oncology nurse. She told me to keep taking my temperature. If it was normal, don’t worry as my face was just turning red from the steroids, not an infection. Thankfully, it was just from the steroids.
16) Food and A/C is really weird. You will get very strange cravings. For one solid week, 3 meals a day all I could eat or wanted to eat was cereal with peanut butter. Do not eat your favorite foods as I guarantee you won’t like them if you eat them during chemo. It seems many people going through A/C chemo crave white foods – especially carbs – potatoes, bread, pancakes, and noodles. It is very strange and odd. Make sure to get your protein in. I mostly ate cottage cheese and peanut butter. Meats did not work for me, but they may for you. Within a couple of weeks after you end A/C chemo, your normal appetite will return.
I hope this helps eliminate some of the fears of Adriamycin Cytoxan Chemotherapy. It is an extremely terrifying, difficult and challenging road to get through, but you can do it. If I can, you can because I couldn’t even stand to have a blood test before I went through cancer treatment. I have become strong! You will too!