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Tips For Chemosabis: People Going Through Chemo: excerpt from my cancer book

November 3, 2012

Here are some tips for chemo patients I sent to the Stanford Cancer Center. They responded and thanked me and are distributing this list to the oncologists. I have this list at the end of my upcoming book on my battler with The Big C.My main goal is to alleviate the suffering of others and improve care.

What a Chemo Patient can do to improve their Attitude, Care, and Infusion stay

  • Walk into chemo like you’re entering a gym to get stronger.
  • Remember you have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have you.
  • Chemo has a half-life. You have a full life.
  • You know when you fight cancer? When you agree to take the treatment. So when you lose your hair, get nauseous, become fatigued, instead of viewing them as unfair, view them as choice you made to get better.
  • Bring doughnuts or chocolates to the nurses (They love sugared crap.).
  • Talk to other people who went through chemo before you take chemo. They can give you invaluable advice on foods, side effects or questions to ask.
  • Before you go in for your appointment, make a list of questions with a friend or advocate, and have them ask those questions to the oncologist.
  • If you don’t like your oncologist, switch.
  • Go through each year of your life, and image each one of years is a person on your side, and all the people they knew during that year is also with you.
  • You always have the right to a second opinion.
  • See everything you’re going through as a path to a cure.
  • Visualize the tumor as some type of monster and imagine yourself fighting it; or, an example, I try to think of my health cells as the beautiful insides of a ripe fruit and the cancer cells as tiny gray bubbles that look like rubber cement.
  • If you can’t read, listened to books on CD or tape.
  • People want to do things for you, it’s part of their therapy too, so let them give.
  • Your best weapon to fight cancer is your life, that’s all you got, never forget who you are.
  • A nausea warning sign is burping. Take a pill quickly!
  • Don’t feel bad about loosing your hair and weight—appearance belongs to another world, valuing those looks is denial. Accept your new combat uniform.
  • When you leave the hospital, don’t think about it. When you’re home think about everything else.
  • Don’t see chemo as a poison. See it as a serum.
  • No matter how good you feel, take the anti-nausea medicines anyway.
  • Remember, no matter how smart or possibly arrogant and intimidating a doctor can be, they still work for you. They’re your employee—but always try to be a good patient.
  • If you can, make an effort to talk to other patients.
  • Don’t ever think ‘How could This Happen To Me?” or “Why Me?” or “This isn’t fair.” That’s all true but to give into these justified gripes is self-pity, your anger has to be directed to the disease.
  • Decorate your recliner with colorful blankets.
  • Chemo’s effects can be brutal, ask you’re caregiver if you might have hurt their feelings by snapping at them—remember they are upset to see you suffer.
  • You can’t cure yourself, but you can insist on ways to relieve your pain.
  • Ask the nurses why they chose oncology. Most nurses do this work because someone close to them had cancer.
  • Find a stylish hat and wear it to your chemo—wear a knit cap at home to stay warm, but don’t wear a knit cap at the hospital.
  • Wear nice clean clothes, stay away from drawstring pants—unless you have to wear catheters.
  • If you have an iPod load it with the music that shaped and inspired you.
  • When you are getting chemo surround yourself with pictures from your life and Get Well cards.
  • Watch your favorite movies to remind yourself of your dreams.
  • Take nausea medications even if you don’t feel nauseous—if you don’t do this, when you do get nauseous there’s no way to stop it.
  • Never hesitate with medications, when in doubt, stay ahead of the pain.
  • Call ahead to the hospital the day before your appointment to make sure insurance has approved your procedure or a new drug you are scheduled to receive that day.
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