Chemotherapy Advice

For my chemo I had the two traditional drugs used in the Nigro Protocol: Mitomycin and 5-FU. I chose to take the pill form of 5-FU (Xeloda) due to reduced risk of port infection and potential heart issues. I’ll be honest, I had minimal side-effects during treatment on the Xeloda (I am suffering from some after treatment issues due to the chemo).

    • No hair loss
    • Minimal nausea
    • No hand/foot syndrome
    • No mouth sores
    • No diarrhea

I managed the nausea with ginger chews and tea, plus a bit of the prescription anti-nausea medication. Other than that I barely knew I was on chemo. My nadir from the the Mitomycin infusion was definitely obvious from the fatigue and feeling like I was walking underwater, but my blood counts only barely dropped out of normal range and shot right back up once nadir was past. I can’t promise anyone else will have the same experience but I do believe that my fast immune recovery was from the Beta Glucan.

During my pre-treatment prep the team at the infusion center gave me the worst case scenario for side-effects, so I went in loaded for bear. Below is a list of how I prepped for chemo.

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Mouth Sore Prep:

I bought a soft bristle toothbrush and baking soda to brush with. No mouthwash for the treatment period (most have alcohol in them).

Hand and Foot Syndrome Prep:

I used Udderly Smooth but Bag Balm is also supposed be good. I used it on my hands and feet first thing in the morning and before bed. I also bought a pair of white cotton gloves to wear overnight and slept in socks.

Nausea Prep:

One of my friends who is a breast cancer survivor advised me to stock up on ginger products to combat nausea. These both helped considerably. There is some suggestion that ginger can help halt the proliferation of cancer cells, there is no solid promise yet but it can’t probably can’t hurt. I have continued to snack on the chews even after treatment because they’re tasty 🙂

I used Ginger Chews

And Ginger Tea

Diarrhea Prep:

My medical oncology team suggested Immodium for Diarrhea, which worked just fine in the early stages. There is a prescription strength product that they use for “rescue” of diarrhea that can’t be controlled by over-the-counter products and the patient is a risk for severe dehydration. I never had to go there because I had no issues after starting the VSL#3.

I also would recommend the Toilet Seat Bidet if you have a lot of diarrhea during your treatment, even if you aren’t having pelvic radiation.

What I didn’t prep for and wish I had:

Photo-sensitivity – I cover this in depth on the After Treatment page but this turned out to be the worst side-effect of my treatment. My medical oncology team mentioned this side-effect and to stay away from the beach and tanning beds. They didn’t say don’t go out of the house  for even 30 seconds without sunscreen and protective clothing. It turned out that I was particularly sensitive to any sun exposure, literally 20 seconds and I had hives/blisters.

I’ve chosen to use Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen because after some seriously bad burns I am not messing around anymore. I’ve also had to invest in sun protective clothing and an umbrella made for UV protection. Dealing with photo-sensitivity from chemo (5-FU) has drastically changed my life.