Chemotherapy Patients, Please Flush Twice

The indignities never cease. Truly. There are probably 1001 things that chemo patients go through that are never spoken about. Here are the ones I remember best, and just for fun, I’m hoping others will share!

  • In the treatment center, you have to flush twice. Yes, the drugs they pump into your veins are so toxic that one flush doesn’t cut it.
  • Your sense of smell can become intense. INTENSE. And it’s hard to ask visitors to make sure they don’t smell before dropping by.
  • Cold = pain. It wasn’t until my dad joined me for treatment that we figured out that the pain caused by chemo was a result of the meds being too cold. Who’d have thought?
  • Your hair will fall out. Not just your hair, but your HAIR. I’m talking the eyelashes that keep the dust from your eyes, the nose hairs that keep your nose from running…all of it.
  • EXCEPT the hairs on your chin. Those stay. God forbid there be a silver lining.
  • BUT it does include pubic hair.
  • Pass on the spices. Evidently our spices harbor all manner of bacteria unsafe for those with a compromised immune system.
  • AND YET…after chemo, I had this hyper-active immune system. As in 3” welts in response to each mosquito bite.

It’s a crap shoot…and I have no doubt that the list of side effects for each and every medication they pumped into me is a mile long. And since I believe I’m still around to write this thanks to the meds, I’m not complaining. But share…what about you?

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth L. Gainer
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 19:20:13

    Excellent post on all of the toxicity of chemotherapy. How about constipation? That is another indignity. I did have chemo, but I didn’t lose my hair. However, I sure was sick….


  2. phxross
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 20:19:20

    I was chemo trained at a hospital at which I volunteered (and yes, I volunteered beyond my planned duties to be chemo trained since I was working on Oncology and had some medical training from my past0. It amazed me I had to wear 3 gowns. One backwards, one forwards, one backwards and 3 sets of gloves and preferably a splash mask to bring up a bag of chemo meds (sometimes on the regular elevator, trying desperately to avoid visitors (we were on the 6th of 6 floors) and then a nurse would put it into the patient’s veins/port. (And I knew how to panic correctly if the chemo meds leaked anywhere, where each floor had emergency chemical showers, etc). It couldn’t touch my skin in any way, but was meant for delicate internal systems and nasty tumors/cells all at the same time.


    • Lori
      Aug 08, 2012 @ 20:49:59

      WOW, Karin…I’m speechless. So glad that crap was flowing through my veins! It’s such a mixed bag (no pun intended), but for ME, I did what I could to fight the disease. Flushing twice seems so simple!


  3. chemobrainfog
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 20:53:34

    Nurses in hazmat suits! Pretty scary to think of the precautions they take before they stick that needle so the “stuff” courses through our veins. I didn’t lose my hair…. I did deal with the cold, hurting meds and I get welts from mosquito bites, too. Oh yes… and the post chemo bruising. Plus, I still have ONE nail that has never fully recovered. I’ll think of more…..


    • Lori
      Aug 09, 2012 @ 13:46:51

      I will never forget the drama with which I got my first PET injection…lead box, lead syringe, lead-lined isolation room (which prevents wireless access no less!)…


  4. Jan Baird Hasak
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:49:30

    The nurses couldn’t celebrate the end of my chemo with balloons in the infusion room as it might upset those who never end their chemo. I felt guilty for my chemo ending. And I still feel bad for all those with mets. It’s not just a crap shoot, it’s crap, period! xxx


    • Lori
      Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:53:32

      Crap shoot? HELL YES! I HATE that you ever felt badly about being done with chemo!

      I was in my treatment center today for an injection. The nurse was talking about how much it hurt, and all I could think about was “it’s not ‘real’ chemo.” It’s all surreal….


  5. Facing Cancer (@cancer2gether)
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 08:45:16

    No tolerance for liquor! Okay, this is wearing off, but for about a year after chemotherapy I was an easy lush. Half a drink and it was all over for the evening.



  6. Susan
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 13:29:17

    Excellent post about the toxicity of chemo. After 4 rounds of adriamyacin and cytoxin I lost all my hair. This was followed by 4 rounds of every two weeks of taxol which caused me to lose all of my nails. I think I was glad I didn’t know that could happen (it does not happen to everyone), since I only knew taxol could cause “nail changes”. When I was in my bath with my bald head, missing eyebrows and eyelashes (and yes hair all over the body!), my big toenails floated to the top of the bath. It didn’t hurt because all the cells were dead, but it was just weird.
    I think what made my primary chemo so hard was that I hardly ever took pills before chemo. During chemo every drug had a side effect, so I would be prescribed another drug which also had side effects and I just would look at all my pills in amazement at how many I was on.


  7. NotDownOrOut
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 19:37:08

    I was allergic to my chemo drug. Moments after they started the infusion I could not breathe. Then it felt like I’d been hit in the back by a car. It took a bucket load of Benadryl for me to get through each treatment. I was afraid to nap or even sit too far back in the chair during treatments in case I was in trouble and unable to call out for help.


    • Lori
      Aug 18, 2012 @ 19:45:20

      Wow! I can’t even imagine how scary that would have been…hope you had a friend at your side, and that its behind you now!! Hugs….


      • NotDownOrOut
        Aug 19, 2012 @ 04:19:54

        Oh yes, I’m done with chemo. Luckily for me, the other patients being treated were always willing to call out for help when my voice failed me. In my experience, fellow travelers on this road to health are some of the kindest people that I have met. And I learned the most useful tips for getting through treatment (and recovering from that treatment) from reading blogs like yours. Thanks for sharing insights.

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