The road ahead of you can seem overwhelming. Doctor visits, scans, hospital stays, chemotherapy, and possibly surgeries may be suddenly looming over your head. But rest assured, you are not alone. Many people are or were exactly where you are today. And take it from them, there are a few things everyone wishes they knew or had done before they started.
Plan your meals
You probably won’t feel like grocery shopping or cooking after chemo, so it’s best to stock your pantry and refrigerator with nutritious foods and pre-made meals. Although people with cancer all have their own specific dietary needs, a good, healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is suitable for most. If you’re wondering if there are foods you should avoid or add to your diet, discuss it with your physician on your next visit.
Get your medication ahead of time
If there are prescriptions or over-the-counter meds you might need after treatment, get them now. For example, your doctor might recommend an anti-nausea medication as a precaution. Don’t wait to find out if you will need it. Get it filled before your first treatment. Also, if you are taking other medications or supplements, make sure you have all you need for a while. Making a trip to the pharmacy or drugstore may be out of the question once you begin chemo.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions you have. You’ll also want to keep a notebook handy for any that come to mind throughout the day. Read forums and articles on reputable sites to brush up on facts about breast cancer. And if any of the topics are unclear to you, address them with your provider.
Plan your wardrobe
Comfort will become one of your main concerns during chemo. Look through your closet for loose, comfortable clothing and items that lend themselves to layering. Shop online for some casual dresses to wear both during treatment and around the house. Look for colors you love in soft, comfortable fabrics. Other patients find it helpful to pack socks and slippers, warm blankets, favorite snacks, lip balm, and reading material.
Talk to someone you trust
Your emotions will likely be up and down during the entire process, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who care. Husbands and best friends are great sounding boards when you just need to vent. And some cancer patients even find it helpful to see a therapist during their ordeal to help them cope with their situation. If you find that the cost to see a therapist is not in your budget at the moment, you can even seek out a local cancer support group. Cancer support groups are confidential meetings in which cancer patients are able to share emotional struggles, educational information, and other types of support. They can be a powerful method for dealing with fears and voicing emotional trauma.
Going through cancer treatment is a personal experience that can differ for everyone. That’s why it’s important to get all your questions answered ahead of time and talk to others who have been through it. Don’t wait until you are too emotionally and physically exhausted to ask for help, either. Allow your family and friends to do some of the things for you that you are having trouble doing on your own. And let go of some of the angst you might feel during the process. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s only temporary and that it won’t be long before you can show them the care they’ve shown you.