SurgeryI had a lumpectomy and they checked my sentinel lymph nodes as well. They told me to wear a sports bra right after surgery. It was the most uncomfortable thing ever! I had to spent one night at the hospital and as soon as I came home I changed into one of those things called Ahh Bra. Okay so I went for the cheap knock off, nothing wrong with that. No wires, hooks, or annoying adjusting straps. I've worn these bras day AND night for months.
Because of the sentinel lymph nodes surgery you can not use deodorant (yes it's gross and smelly) or shave for a couple of weeks. Make sure you start using deodorant without any alcohol after that.
Very often they tell you not to use any deodorant, perfume or soap during Radiation therapy. According to my doctor this whole thing was nonsense and I could use everything I wanted to. Just make sure you use good products that do not dry out your skin.
NailsChemo might affect your nails. Your nails may become pigmented or discoloured. They may become more brittle, so they won't grow as long as they used to and may break more easily. Clip your nails short and wear nail hardener polish during chemo treatment.
DentalChemo is going to change your taste and appetite. I recommend seeing your dentist before starting chemo. It is very likely you will have mouth sores and a very dry mouth. Brush your teeth after every meal. I used mostly products by Dentaid Xeros. Their various products moisten, refresh and protect your mouth, which is more vulnerable due to the lack of saliva.
When you have a sore throat/mouth use Kamillosan and mix it with a small amount of water to rinse your mouth and repeat a couple of times a day. A great healing herbal treatment. Also make sure you have one of those surgical toothbrushes. They are very soft and great when you're in pain.
Use a good lip balm, like Yes to Carrots Mint (it was my fave) a couple of times a day to take care of those dry lips.
Skin CareChemo can also affect your skin at times, leaving it dry or flaky and more sensitive to exposure to sun, wind, and other elements. Again use good products with no chemicals. I became a big fan of Weleda during my treatment. I used Almond Soothing Facial Cream during the day and long-lasting hydration Cold Cream for the night. Both perfect! Make sure you use an oil based product in the shower as well. Treat yourself with a nice body lotion. Or if you can not handle the smell of all of these products (it's possible) try Balneum; odour-free products for dry, itchy skin disorders.
UniformSo you're going to be sick. Do not wear your entire wardrobe when feeling sick. Make sure you have one or two cute but very comfortable outfits that you keep in your closet especially for chemo weeks. Let your outfit become your chemo uniform. You're gonna want to throw them away (or burn them) when it's all over.
Hair LossIf you want a wig, make sure you go to a store specialised in wigs (the hospital will be able to give you a good address) before this happens. They will compare your own hair, structure and colour to their product line.
I knew I would lose my hair around day 14-17 after my first chemo. I decided to pick up my wig on day 13 and then I got my head shaved. For me this was the right decision and it made me feel really in control. Losing your hair seems like a girl's worst nightmare. But trust me, you will get used to it. And hey it really is true what they say... it grows back!
There's nothing wrong with taking good care of that vulnerable bald head of yours. So why not use a drop of baby shampoo in the shower and massage your head. You can even massage some baby oil every once in a while on that lovely head. I guarantee it'll make you feel better!
HatsI went a little crazy in the hat department. I ordered a lot of stuff online. Very soon I found out that I wasn't happy with those typical cancer hats, scarves and turbans. Whenever I looked in the mirror I felt like a cancer patient. I knew I needed something different. Something more 'me'. Then I found two Ebay stores from Korea selling the coolest baggy slouch oversized beanies and hats, I fell in love with! I enjoyed my huge collection and I could mix and match it with my clothes. These hats really gave me confidence and I preferred wearing them over my wig because they were so comfy and cute!
Make sure you get some night caps as well. They aren't pretty but they'll definitely keep your head warm at night.
If you lose your eyebrows and eyelashes you might want to change your make-up a bit. Without your eyelashes, a good eye infection is just peeking around the corner. So use good natural products, no chemicals, nothing tested on animals. Even when you can not be bothered, try a little eyeliner, lipstick and eyebrow make-up. Look into that mirror and you will feel like a completely different person! Promise! I became a big fan of the Christian Semi Permanent Eyebrow Make-up Kit. The powder is a super quality water resistant and the kit comes with three stencils.
- Try to move or walk around (accompanied by someone) for 30 minutes a day, continuous bed rest isn't good for you.
- You need at least 2 litres of water a day to wash the chemicals through your system. Hydrate yourself before, during and after chemo. Drink water, water, water!
- Eat mini-meals because smaller sized meals tends to be tolerated better during the chemo process and it will help with nausea as well. Try to eat healthy but also listen to your body. With time you will know what you will be able to eat or not. If you can not eat, try soup. Do not eat your favourite foods during chemo because you'll hate it afterwards (as in the smell alone will make you puke).
- Tell your ONC team everything.
- Write all of your questions down before going to the doctor.
- Take hand sanitizer with you wherever you go.
- It is a lot harder to control pain or nausea once it starts than to prevent it in the first place. You're being given poison, don't worry about those extra few pills. Keep them coming.
- Go shopping. Buy something nice for yourself because you deserve it! Even when you don't feel like going out: internet shopping is your best friend!
- Find your outlet. Start little projects to take off your mind. Think crochet, scrap booking, paint, write! Photography and this blog were my saviour.
- I was amazed by the beautiful community out there with so many helpful souls. These are the people that WILL understand you. This will become your lifeline. And you'll make some amazing friends in the process. So reach out!
- Do what you have to do to get through each day. Sleep when you need to, cry when you want to and take control of the remote! Accept all of these feelings. It is very normal to feel sad. If you're having panic attacks or feeling depressed seek help.
- Try to dream in colour!