Everything you’ve mentioned will be welcome and used.
Buy her Biotine mouthwash - mouth sores are inevitable and it’s a good idea to start rinsing with it right away. If it doesn’t work, no problem; the doc can prescribe what’s called “Magic Mouthwash,” usually containing Benadryl, Maalox, or Mylanta, and an anti-ulcer medication called sucralfate or a pain reliever called lidocaine. The lidocaine is the key.
If she hasn’t had a dental cleaning within the previous six months, now is the time to do it. The ‘pink parts’ are affected by chemo; this includes the mouth and gums… let alone the rest of our pink parts.
Unless she is taking CMF chemo, she will lose all of her hair on days 18-19 on what is considered the normal chemo (usually A/C) schedule. She must determine whether she wants to present herself bald or with wigs or scarves, turbans, etc. Many women have their heads shaved right before those days, believing themselves to be taking control of the event, rather than losing it all on a pillow or a shower drain. This is often a family party - let her know you’re all together on this. If she decides to do the wig thing, let her know you’ll be with her when she makes her decision. If her chemo is during winter, she’ll probably want a wig, scarf, etc., because it’s freaking cold without a head covering.
You’re right; she won’t be sick while undergoing her first infusion. As time goes on, however, residual chemicals add to the new chemical infusions. It builds up as time goes on. Get it: she will be sick, very very sick.
There are some amazing women who manage to have chemo and never miss a day of work. I don’t know if they’re martyrs, liars, or such strong women that it truly doesn’t bother them. I have what’s called high pain tolerance, and as my daughter has reminded me, it has nothing to do with character. I could not work during the last month of chemo. Prepare your Mom for that possibility.
We women are weird in that we pride ourselves when we don’t take drugs or painkillers. She absolutely positively MUST take the anti-nausea, anti-pain drugs that are prescribed to her! My Mom died of breast cancer before these drugs were available and I can rememer her fading away on her couch with a pail by her side that she vomited in for days. Get the picture? Your Mom doesn’t need to do this!
I get this vibe that you believe your Mom’s condition is merely temporary, something to get through; that all will work out and with the proper offerings from you she’ll be OK. Where is she on this? What stage? How many lymph nodes were involved? Did she have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy? Never forget that this isn’t a designer disease that so very many women die of. I hope you’re not taking this lightly.
There is a totally terrific website, breastcancer.org that is a lifesaver for so many breast cancer patients. Please go onto this website, register, find the fora you’re interested in and read what we’ve had to say.
Go to Breast Cancer Message Board Go to Support and Community, then Discussion Boards.
I’ve done this. Let me know if you need more info.