There’s a lot of talk about how to take care of yourself after chemotherapy. But what about before? Here are a few chemo care tips to make you more comfortable. Because of the effects of chemotherapy, you might have side effects for a while. Some of them could even be permanent. Preparing in advance can help you to be as healthy as possible while you heal following chemotherapy. It will also get tasks out of the way that could get in the way of your recovery.
Doctors frequently prescribe Taxotere for breast cancer patients. While it is not used in every regimen, it is popular as a cocktail and can have damaging side effects. This list is helpful for anyone undergoing a chemotherapy routine, but particularly for Taxotere breast cancer patients.
Chemo Care Tips for Taxotere Breast Cancer Patients
Chemo Care Tip #1: Get Your Teeth Cleaned and Have a Complete Dental Check-up
You probably won’t be cleared for dental visits until 30 days after completing chemo. And you can’t go while receiving Taxotere, either. That’s because you’re at risk for bleeding and infection.
It’s also important since your mouth contains bacteria that can enter your bloodstream during dental procedures. It’s more likely during procedures like a root canal but can happen even during cleanings. And since chemotherapy weakens your immune system, this bacteria could lead to infections.
Chemotherapy is notorious for causing a dry mouth. And saliva is what helps keep your teeth healthy, clearing the body of plaque and particles of food. By getting a checkup in advance, you can avoid some of the dental issues that accompany chemotherapy. Dental health is central to total body health, so get it done first as part of your chemo care.
Chemo Care Tip #2: Get a Well-Woman Exam
Women undergoing breast cancer treatment need to get a well-woman exam done before chemo care starts. Chemotherapy can interfere with the results of a Pap smear, leading to abnormal results.
If you have an abnormal result on your pap smear, you almost always need a slightly invasive follow-up procedure. Since chemotherapy typically weakens the immune system, this procedure can be more dangerous. (Not to mention painful and time-consuming.)
Chemo Care Tip #3: Sign up for a Cold Cap to Mitigate any Taxotere-related Hair Loss During Active treatment
Hair loss is an immediate and outward sign of chemotherapy and can be emotionally taxing on breast cancer patients. For most patients, hair growth begins shortly following chemotherapy treatment. But for patients who have taken Taxotere, hair loss may be permanent.
A 2005 GEICAM 9805 trials study found that 9.2% of Taxotere patients reported permanent and irreversible hair loss. This was found even after Taxotere’s manufacturer Sanofi downplayed its hair loss effect. (The warning label reads “hair generally grows back.)
Fortunately, a cap has recently been FDA-approved that may allow chemotherapy patients to keep some, or most, of their hair. The DigniCap Cooling System works by constricting blood vessels in the scalp. By restricting how much chemotherapy actually reaches your scalp’s cells and hair follicles, hair is less likely to fall out. The cold cap is aptly named, chilling to between -15F and -40F. This slows hair follicle activity dramatically, keeping them less active during treatment.
The research is promising, too. A study observed 122 women with either Stage I or Stage II breast cancer who wore the cap during treatment. All of their regimens involved drugs that typically cause hair loss, such as Taxotere. More than 66% of the patients in the study reported losing less than half of their scalp hair! This type of preventative chemo care can have lasting physical and emotional effects. Especially for breast cancer patients taking Taxotere, which may cause permanent hair loss.
Chemo Care Tip #4: Treat Your Nails
Your nail cells are rapidly dividing and growing when you’re healthy. Chemotherapy slows this rapid division, which can cause damage to your nails.
Here are a few things to do before chemotherapy begins to protect your nails from damage:
- If you have longer acrylic/fake nails, it’s best to cut them off and file them short before starting treatment. Fake nails can trap bacteria that may cause infection.
- If you bite your nails, it’s time to stop. You are more prone to infection following chemotherapy. Help yourself break the habit beforehand if possible.
- Buy some cuticle cream to have on-hand once chemo starts. Since chemotherapy weakens your nails, it’s good to rub this on them to prevent drying, splitting, and hangnails.
Chemo Care Tip #5: Get Your Chemo Bag Ready
Infusion days are long, tiring, and boring. Get your chemo bag ready to keep yourself entertained and distracted from any pain or discomfort.
Here are a few things to bring (or do!) in advance to keep yourself happier:
- Try out a new audiobook on your tablet or phone. The right book can transport you, and help you emotionally. Your first one is free with an Audible account. You can also borrow from your local library with the Overdrive app!
- A deck of cards or a board game can make a big difference — as well as someone to play with. Having a friend with you can help you feel stronger, and pass the time.
- Bring a kindle/phone/tablet to help you pass the time. But don’t forget a portable battery-charger to power your device! Chemotherapy days are long, and your device might need an extra boost.
- Bring comfy socks, a beanie, and comfy clothes. Hospitals are cold! And if you want to sleep during treatment, pack along a pillow and a blanket.
- Snacks and fluids — Keeping hydrated can flush the toxins faster, and snacks will keep you from having to buy hospital food. Bring something special you can look forward to eating during the long treatment.
What You Can Do About Permanent Taxotere Hair Loss
Chemotherapy can be a long process. By taking steps beforehand to give yourself good chemo care, your experience will have both temporary and lasting effects.
If you or someone you love didn’t grow back all lost hair after finishing chemo, you may qualify for compensation. To check your eligibility for a cash settlement, fill out your free Taxotere claim evaluation form today. You’ll see your results online in less than two minutes. Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer will call to discuss your case and possible compensation options.
Related: What Is Chemo Brain, and How Long Do Symptoms Usually Last?
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.