Mindy's Tips for Chemo

When I was going through treatment, a mom, a complete stranger on the playground at my son’s school had read my story in People and came up to me and handed me a piece of paper and said,

“Here’s notes I took while I was going through chemo.”

 Her survivorship and passing along her wisdom is one of the inspirations behind My Cancer Family.  Thank you Mindy.  Your note was so comforting, so helpful and just what I needed.  Because of you, we will continue to share survivor stories, hacks and info that may help others.


General Tips For Chemo


You will not be able to read or focus on anything with print for more than a few minutes.  Rent/watch movies or tv instead.  We had a small 13” tv in our room that had a DVD player, no cable.  I watched DVDs a lot and often the same ones over and over again.

Denise note- now with streaming shows there are endless options but don’t feel bad if you just watch the same ones over and over. Or you might not like your typical shows. That’s okay too.

Tissue box

Wherever you are resting, make sure you have tissues (see hair loss side effect), water, phone/cellphone and remote.

Take your meds, even if you feel ok.  If you don’t, you’ll feel so bad you’ll remember to take them the next time.  Also, you’ll need to take a set of meds before each treatment, make sure to take them.


Rest as much as you can.  It’s not as easy as it sounds, but if you feel tired, lay down.

2 people walking together

Take a walk every day, even if it’s only to the corner and back.  You need to keep moving.  If you’re really tired, have someone walk with you so you can lean on them.

Call your doctor whenever you need to.  I spoke with my onc at least twice a week for one thing or another.

Woman in a zip up hoodie with tank top underneath

When you go to chemo, wear a zip up sweatshirt, button down or low cut shirt, it will be easier to access the port.  I’m sure the hospital will be chilly, so bring something comfy and warm to wear.

Eating & Drinking

Many bottle of different flavored gatorades

You will find that water tastes like dirt.  I can’t remember if it’s the AC or the Taxol that does it, but either way you’ll need to find something else to drink other than water.  Gatorade worked for me, but only certain flavors. You’ll want to stock up on whatever you find you like and keep it cold.

When water does taste ok, drink A LOT!!!!!  You need to flush your body well.    Also, constipation is one of the worst side effects that I had. See side effects for more info,

Side Effects

Constipation – it’s not your normal constipation where if you eat dried fruits you’re ok.  It’s the kind that you need an enema for.  I wish I knew this.  My doctor suggested just plain water enemas, they worked.

word cloud with chemo brain

Chemo brain – it’s real and it sucks.  Your brain slows down, you can’t remember simple words, you forget things all the time.  Make lots of notes, keep a notebook, make lists.  It takes months after chemo for it to go away, and it never fully goes away.  I definitely have residual side effects

Bottle of Biotene mouthwas

Dry mouth/mouth sores – get magic wash (Rx) as soon as you have symptoms.  It basically numbs your mouth so you can eat.  Also use toothpaste and rinse that’s for people with dry-mouth.  I used Biotene, made a big difference.  Also, get a very soft toothbrush, I used a soft electric one with a small head so as not to irritate my mouth.

Electric toothbrushes with small heads

Get a very soft toothbrush, I used a soft electric one with a small head so as not to irritate my mouth.

Hands that are achy

Achy bones/joints – Taxol causes this and it doesn’t go away for months.  You feel like an old woman.  I can tell you for me it went away within 9 months.  Take pain meds if you need to.

hand with nails cut short

Nails separating from fingers – Taxol causes this.  You will need to be very careful to always wear gloves when washing dishes or bathing the kids.  I actually did not wash dishes or do bath time for weeks to protect my nails and also because of my hand/foot syndrome.  When your nails start to separate, make sure to cut them very, very short.  Buy Tea Tree oil (doesn’t smell very good) and apply it around your nails and underneath.  It prevents fungus from growing.  I had no issues as long as I kept my nails very short and kept them out of water as much as possible.

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