I got a port put in (day surgery) soon after my diagnosis, which I would highly recommend as they don’t need to insert an IV in your veins each time you have a treatment. When I get my chemo infusions, there is zero pain. In fact, I feel completely normal the entire time. The chemo drugs (I currently have 4 each treatment) are given one at a time with a break in between a couple of them to make sure there’s no allergic reaction. I eat snacks, drink water and ginger ale, and chat with whoever comes with me that day. Sometimes we order lunch even.
Not sure if they follow the same protocol everywhere, but they give me anti-nausea meds intravenously before each treatment, which helps a lot with the side effects. My infusion takes all day (5-6 hours). Each person responds differently of course, but for me, I didn’t feel any side effects until the third day after the treatment. My mouth became sensitive (softer foods helped), my taste buds were affected (didn’t like the taste of my coffee, which is unheard of), and I felt quite a bit of fatigue. Sleeping helped a lot.
Not sure if you will get the Neulasta shot (mine was a patch that was put on the back of my arm at the end of my chemo treatment and it administered the shot 27 hours later). It stimulates white blood cell production and one of the side effects can be bone/joint pain. My dr. advised me to take a Loratadine tablet (antihistamine/generic form of Claritin) each day, and that helped tremendously with bone pain.
Each person has unique side effects that can vary, but I will say it’s not like what you see in the movies. I have personally had zero nausea, but a few days after my infusions, I just have an overall feeling of being unwell and needing to rest/sleep.
All that to say, there are so many things available to help you manage side effects. I have been able to continue working during my chemo treatments, and have missed just a couple days of work each treatment, mostly to sleep, rest, and heal. My treatments are every 3 weeks. I also bought a wig that I love (similar to my real hair, but even better as my hair is thin—Raquel Welch is the brand).
Like everyone, I was not excited to start chemo. But during that first treatment, I pictured the chemo attacking the cancer cells in my body, and it was empowering to know the fight had begun and I was officially on the road to beating breast cancer. We are so blessed that modem medicine and research have come so far with breast cancer treatment. Herceptin and Perjeta are the two chemo meds I am on that specifically target the HER2 tumors, and they have provided hope for a long life ahead with my family.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. I understand your fear and apprehension as I felt those emotions too. Praying you have peace and clarity as you are making decisions about your treatment plan. Much love to you. Remember you are not alone and you will beat this one step at a time!