As the chemo nurse came in to administer #4 out of 4 Adriamycin Cytoxan Chemotherapy to my sister, Diann, she said: “Good news! This is the last of your lifetime dosage of Adriamycin Cytoxan!” Diann, who is going through treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer, was beyond relieved that she never has to get another dosage EVER of the Red Devil. It is so strong that your lifetime dosage is measured! What an accomplishment to finish that drug. But the grueling side effects remain for quite some time before Diann begins Taxol, her next drug for 12 weeks. Any of you who have been through AC, know that you feel like dying through Adriamycin Cytoxan chemotherapy. I certainly did. When women write me for encouragement getting through AC, I tell them it is normal feelings to want to give up and die. The drug does that to you! It is torture, but it kills cancer cells – along with a lot of good cells. You feel the death of all of them. But once you are 3 years post-chemo like I am, you never take a day for granted that you did it, that you did not give up, and that you are still alive! Diann and I did it and you can too!!
Here is some advice from Diann for those going through AC Chemo:
1) Infusions – #3 AC is the worst both emotionally and physically. By the time you get to #4, you are so glad it is over, mentally you are better able to handle it.
2) Mouth sores and metal taste – Biotene really helped me. It can be purchased over the counter. But make sure any nausea has subsided before you rinse your mouth with it or I would start gagging.
3) Dry heaves and nausea – be sure to take your anti-nausea meds ON TIME even though most Oncologists say “as needed.” Don’t wait because you think you are okay. The nausea will sneak up on you and then it takes much longer for the medicines to work. If one medicine doesn’t seem to be working for you, call your Oncologist. They can prescribe many other anti-nausea meds to help you. Compazine worked for me better than Zofran. But Zofran worked better for a friend than Compazine. We are all different!
4) Good Days – If you are having one of those rare good days, get out of the house and do something that you enjoy! Even if it is just a change of scenery over to a family or friend’s house because of low energy and sit in their recliner rather than yours. Anything helps to get off of the sick bed, couch or recliner!!
5) Energy – Plan anything that needs more energy in the morning while you have it. If it is necessary for you to go to the grocery store (try to get someone else to do it, though), do it in the morning.
6) Work – If you are attempting to work through AC Chemo, try to make it part time. Fortunately, my boss was very flexible. I was able to work for 4 or 5 hours on the days I could. During AC #3 and #4, those days became less. But I did find it helpful to go to work as it made me feel more “normal” for a little while. On my best days, I only lasted until 2:00 pm.
7) Naps – Take them as needed and take them as often as you can! It really helped me both with nausea and energy.
7) Children – As a single mom who raised 3 children on her own and now I am a grandma, I kept thinking of women going through AC Chemo who had small children and wondered how they do it. If you have small children, you will need help and lots of it. Say yes to the people who offer to help you. Little kids give you energy as well, but you definitely will need help.
8) Accepting Help – And speaking of accepting help, it will be most challenging, but learn to receive. I needed help and absolutely hated to ask for it. But I had no choice on some occasions. This was one of my biggest lessons.
Diann gets tired of people telling her she looks great when she has her hats and headgear on from my online store http://www.hellocourage.com because she feels so bad physically. But we can all agree, she does look amazing even during Chemotherapy!! Diann’s favorite headgear from my store is the Breezy Collection which she can wear over a wig like she has done in this picture!
Click on her pic to get to my store and in Diann’s honor, get an additional 10% off already discounted prices with Discount Code DIANN