The medical world has antidotes for many of the issues that arise from cancer treatments, so I learned to speak up about what I was experiencing.
I am a 16-year survivor! I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at age 47.
I first participated in a trial analyzing MammoSiteradiation therapy five days a week, twice a day versus the six weeks daily radiation therapy. I was also invited to be part of another clinical trial and was randomized to the group with the more aggressive and longer treatments of chemotherapy.
The things I remember most have stayed with me throughout my 16 years as a survivor. I have never been one to complain when sick, and I remember vividly how my oncology nurse told me to not suffer, we have medicine for everything imaginable to get me through the healing process; discomfort is only temporary.
For example, I’ve never liked needles, so inserting a port in was a life saver for me. I was given numbing cream to put on my skin above the port on one hour before going to get a treatment so that the skin would be numb, and I would not feel the stick. I am a bit better today with blood draws, but still have anxiety issues each time.
Another important piece of advice I can provide is if you are a person who has a bowel movement every day and after starting treatment you don’t have one, tell your health care team right away! Do not wait until you are seriously ready to pass out or unable to have a movement. I learned that lesson the hard way with not knowing what really was happening to me. The nurse said I was totally blocked and constipated, and they worked quickly to help things get moving again and then they treated it as a high priority throughout the rest of my treatments.
Another tidbit of advice: once treatments start, do not use metal silverware, do not drink from metal cans; use plastic or glassware as much as possible. This will eliminate the metal taste of things to come. If you have a sore in your mouth, tell your providers, they have medicine to help those sores heal.
One other thing that truly kept me going as my treatments got harder to manage, was to daily intravenous hydration. I was unable to eat and sometimes drink, even with nausea medicine. The daily two hours of sitting and getting an IV made all the difference in the world.
Parting words of advice is to share how you feel with your nurses and allow them to help you with everything possible to give you that push to get through the treatments and get well! Remember “It’s only temporary!”
This article was written and submitted by Tami Richardson-Nelson; it reflects the views of Tami Richardson-Nelson and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
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