- Question from LenaV: I start my first chemo next week. Is there anything I should be doing mentally/physically to prepare, e.g. diet, etc.?
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H.
Breastcancer.org has a number of helpful suggestions to help you in preparing for chemotherapy. What my patients find most helpful is learning as much about the experience as they can. Information from other patients can be helpful, but remember that each woman's story will be different from yours.
Your treatment nurses will give you information that will help you prepare. One thing that a lot of women are not aware of is that chemotherapy in breast cancer patients, for multiple reasons, can be associated with weight gain. This is one thing patients are often not told. In an attempt to help you, your friends may be bringing over lots of lovely nourishing meals, but this may not be the most helpful thing to you. Your goal is to survive this cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet and a stable weight is the best way to handle your nutritional needs.
The other thing that you may find helpful is to tell your friends and family explicitly, in great detail, what you need from them. You will find that it's more helpful to hear about people who were treated a while ago for cancer and are doing well. Surrounding yourself with well-informed people will be very helpful to you, but don't forget there's a possibility of information overload. The breastcancer.org website has a great deal of balance.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
One thing that's very helpful to do before and during, as well as after chemotherapy, is to keep up your fluid balance. Make sure you keep drinking before and after your treatment. Keep a lot of drinks around that you enjoy, but not ones that are full of sugar. There are some nice flavored club sodas. You might enjoy chicken broth as a hot drink.
Women who forget to drink and get nervous and maybe neglect that part of their daily intake may be more likely to experience nausea. And drinking non-caloric drinks throughout treatment instead of eating can help control your weight gain a little bit.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. Trying to stay active and getting outside every day will help prevent some of the fatigue some women experience on chemotherapy.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. As well as the tendency to feel down. Check out books on tape. Try meditation for the first time. Make sure to pamper yourself. Get that massage, sleep in late here and there, buy yourself a treat, and remind those people around you that you love presents.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Chemotherapy Updates featured Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about advances in chemotherapy treatment: different types of drugs and regimens, how to reduce or eliminate unpleasant side effects, and more.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2002.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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