Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy for many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Cancer cells are growing in a disorder and can hardly be controlled. Thus, its stages develop very quickly, causing various side effects on the patient’s body. Chemotherapy works by aiming at these uncontrollably grow cells and inhibits their growth. In people with breast cancer, chemotherapy is received as an infusion through a thin needle in the arm or hand, or is in a pill form. There are some common factors that influence a doctor in determining the most suitable cancer treatment for a patient, including chemotherapy. Those include the patient’s age, previous treatment, chronic health condition, tumor size and stage, lymph node status, and genetic profile.
How to prepare for chemotherapy for breast cancer
Most breast cancer patients are clueless about this procedure before they are actually getting one. Therefore, it is important to prepare the patient before they are actually doing the chemotherapy, regarding bad assumption in the society about this procedure. Here are some things that can be done to help breast cancer patient prepare for their very first chemotherapy and some others that might be required in the future.
Common overview preparation
Discussing common overview with your doctor, specifically about the percentage of patients surviving breast cancer from chemotherapy will be helpful to reassure you about this treatment method and how much it may help you improve the condition.
Finding various sources about other patients’ chemotherapies will also give you a description about how this therapy is done, what to expect, and what to anticipate. Some common overview about breast cancer chemotherapy include:
- It is commonly given as a series of treatments every two or four weeks within several-month period. This varies according to your stage and symptoms.
- You will be given the treatment as an outpatient. Some patients be in the hospital for short period of time, while some others may require longer one.
Personal preparation before and after the treatment
- Prepare your mental status and reassure yourself that chemotherapy will give you a chance to improve your health and minimize the effects of the existing breast cancer. Adding information about chemotherapy benefits and side effects will be beneficial for you.
- Get a lot of rest and avoid staying up too late.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol and caffeinated drinks before the treatment. These, especially smoking give you a higher risk of developing new cancer and triggering treated cancer to reoccur. Smoking also dry the lining of your mouth out, making you more prone to the side effects of the therapy, such as the mouth sore.
- Eat well-balanced diet high in protein and calories, which are essential in healing your body. A person undergoing chemotherapy generally needs twice amount of calories compared to those who are not.
- Take anti-sickness medications wisely. Your doctor will probably prescribe an anti-sickness medication to be taken after the procedure. This is great for reducing the caused pain, but if consume for too long can damage the veins around the wrists.
- Be prepared for the side effects. similar to chemotherapy for other cancers, chemotherapy for breast cancer may trigger some side effects the patient needs to anticipate, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme fatigue and tiredness
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Weight fluctuation
- Hair loss
- Nail color change or detached nail
Preparation during the chemotherapy
- Make yourself as comfortable as possible during the process. Choose sitting or leaning position that will support your body well during the treatment hours.
- Bring along books or music player to help you relax during the treatment. Choose relaxing music or inspiring books to gain some support.
- Ask the nurse or your doctor what chemo gears are provided by the hospital. Some people experience better chemotherapy when wearing ice-cold cap the hospital provides. This cap is beneficial in inhibiting hair loss and thus, reducing the amount of falling hair during the chemo. A pair of ice-cold gloves may also be helpful to reduce pain caused by the chemotherapy and thus, may the process more endurable.