Top tips prior to starting FLOT or other types of chemotherapy

Here are a number of tips to consider if you are about to start chemotherapy.

  1. Buy a digital thermometer as you will need this to monitor your temperature twice a day.
  2. Ask your GP for a full blood count, liver and kidney function and nutritional status re B12, iron, magnesium before starting treatment. Ask for a print out so you can use this to monitor any changes or deterioration. Request another set, once treatment is complete so you can address any deficiencies.
  3. Get as fit as you can prior to starting treatment. Staying active definitely helps to counteract side effects. If you have lost weight prior to diagnosis – try to gain a few pounds. This is incredibly hard but will help if you have a few days when you don’t fancy eating much. Complan or Meritene shakes (available online or from Boots) are good supplies to have in to boost your calories, vitamins and minerals.
  4. If you have any issues with constipation, ensure you get your bowels moving prior to treatment and drink plenty of water. OTC laxatives, prune or beetroot juice, dried mango, Vaseline and Anusol suppositories and Imodium in case of diarrhoea are all useful purchases.
  5. Hair is likely to fall out or thin so it is a good idea to acquire either a few chemo hats or a wig. You can get a free wig if you speak to Macmillan at your cancer centre.
  6. Buy either some latex free or sterile gloves – you will never know when these might come in.
  7. Warm gloves – you will need these to protect your hands.
  8. Google fasting and chemo in relation to reducing side effects. I tried fasting on cycle 1 and 2 but by cycle 3 I couldn’t be faffed and just ate what I felt like. I personally did not notice a massive difference but other people have reported benefits.
  9. Make sure you take 1-2 litres of water to the hospital and drink most of it. Apart from keeping your kidneys active to flush out the meds, it can be really hot on the chemo-suites and it is important to stay hydrated.
  10. Always have a bag packed with essential items, eg nightwear, underwear, towel and toiletries when undergoing treatment as you never know when you may need to be admitted for a raised temperature and it saves your loved ones the aggravation of packing for you.
  11. FLOT takes a minimum of 4 hours to infuse and with blood tests on top, you could be in the hospital 6 hours or more (my record was 9 hours). Make sure you have something to eat or something to do to pass the time. I took a book, an art pad, my journal and my phone with plenty of music and programmes downloaded. There was Wi-Fi in the chemo suite so remember to ask for the code as it probably changes each visit.
  12. I was told to live as much of a normal life as possible while receiving treatment. I did try to do this and went to all but two live concerts booked prior to diagnosis. When out in busy places I tended to cover my mouth with a scarf and put Vaseline on my nose and mouth in an attempt to trap any bugs. I don’t know if this works but anything is worth a try.

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