Lessons Learned

Here is laundry list of things I have learned since being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011. Some are tips I learned from other women. Some tips have been learned the hard way. One thing I know for sure, each of our experiences is different and unique. What works for me may not work for you. But if there is one nugget in here that makes your life a little easier, I am happy to share!

If you have a lesson learned that you would like to share, please email me at junojen@gmail.com or leave a comment below.
  1. Find a cancer survivor role model.
  2. Create a medical binder.
  3. Have any outstanding dental work done and get your teeth cleaned before you start chemotherapy.
  4. My chemo regimen created horrible constipation which can make life miserable when you are trying to recover from chemo. Stay ahead of the issue by taking a stool softener every night whether you think you need it or not. You will need it! Eat a high fiber cereal in the morning (my favorite is All Bran Buds). Remember to drink lots of water.
  5. People told me not to eat what I enjoyed during chemo because it would not have the same appeal to me after chemo. That may be true for some people but it has not been true for me. I have lived by this simple rule during my chemo regimen: eat small portions of whatever appeals to you. Don't let yourself get too hungry. I found that if I went too long in between meals, I started to feel nauseous. Sometimes all I wanted was a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of chicken rice soup. Whatever works. I would catch up on my nutrition and healthy eating habits a few days after chemo when my system returned to normal.
  6. Get plenty of rest. If you aren't sleeping a full 8 hours every night, ask your doctor for medication to help you sleep. Lorazepam has been a godsend for me. I sleep 10 hours solid every night and am never groggy. I realize meds work differently for everyone. Find whatever works for you and make sure you get your ZZZZZs.
  7. Along the same lines -- take naps whenever you can. I am not a nap-taker but that all changed with chemo. I wouldn't think I was tired but I would lay down on a Saturday afternoon to "rest my eyes" and the next thing I'd know - two hours had gone by. I needed the extra rest and didn't even realize it.
  8. Buy soft bras to wear after surgery. I bought a few bras that were a little larger (38 instead of 36) to allow for some swelling, weight gain and just give me a little extra room. I highly recommend this bra by Barely There or this bra by Bally.