Members of the BC Healthline community share advice they’ve learned from undergoing chemo for breast cancer.
Chemotherapy is a powerful, anti-cancer drug treatment. It’s usually given either intravenously — through an IV — or in the form of pills. Usually, a course of chemotherapy will be given for 3 to 6 months.
There are many types of chemotherapy, and most courses involve a combination of multiple drugs. Chemotherapy is often used alongside another form of treatment like radiation, surgery, or immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy can also be used as a primary course of treatment, particularly in cases where the cancer cells have spread beyond the breast area.
Often, when people find out they need chemotherapy, they’re concerned about the side effects they may have.
Chemotherapy treatments have improved substantially over time — it’s now more effective and more tolerable than ever.
Many people are surprised to find that side effects are more manageable than they expected. Still, it can feel scary starting chemo and not knowing how it’ll make you feel.
Hearing from others who’ve had chemotherapy for breast cancer can help you feel more prepared and less alone.
Members of the BC Healthline community shared their tips for feeling as comfortable as possible while undergoing chemotherapy.
“I strangely felt pampered. The nurses would get me a warm blanket, and we had snacks. It was time for me to relax. I caught up on a lot of TV shows.
I had a bit of nausea that felt like morning sickness to me, but anti-nausea medication helped. All was good unless someone was eating something stinky in my house. That made me a bit grumpy.” — Susie1972
“Bring an iPad or a book, and something to snack on. Do things that you would not be doing if you were home.
My first chemotherapy treatment felt relaxing, because nobody was asking me for anything for an extended period of time.
The first evening was fine for me, and the day after. After the Neulasta injection, it got a bit tough. I felt like I had the flu and had very little energy.
Just keep taking it one day at a time. Try not to make yourself nervous and remember you are not alone. There are many people on the BC Healthline app who have had experience with chemotherapy.” — Lisorp
I would suggest rinsing your mouth with a mixture of water, salt, and baking soda to prevent mouth sores. Also, try to walk daily, drink lots of water, and moisturize your lips.” — Erica C.
“I thought the infusion nurses were amazing. I had time to think, write, and rest, which I’ve never had. You have no choice really but to put your health first.
I think self-love and compassion come with chemotherapy. I almost feel like I know myself better” — Barby
“Different chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause certain side effects than others, and everyone’s body reacts differently. Overall, I don’t think it was as bad as I imagined it would be.
It made my skin feel baby soft, and it got rid of the age spots on my face. Go in with a fighter’s attitude and remember that you are a winner!” — BSJ
“Try to think positive and know that nothing lasts forever. It will be over before you know it. I can tell you after eight treatments, I had more good days than bad days.” — Renay81
While chemotherapy has become much more manageable in recent years, it can still cause uncomfortable physical side effects. Taking steps to make yourself more comfortable can make the process feel less scary and more tolerable.
If you do have side effects from chemotherapy, it’s always a good idea to bring them up with your healthcare team.
They may be able to offer suggestions or prescribe medications to help ease your symptoms.
Whether you’re looking for more information about navigating treatment, or just a place to chat with folks who understand, the BC Healthline community is here for you.
Elinor Hills is an associate editor at Healthline. She’s passionate about the intersection of emotional well-being and physical health, as well as how individuals form connections through shared medical experiences. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, photography, drawing, and spending way too much of her time running.