Why not join the Living with metastatic private group? Access group via the link here.

Mum's first chemo session

BlancaP Member Posts: 12
Hi, my mum will be having her first ever chemo session early next week.  The oncologist will treat her with Paclitaxel and treatment will be once a week for 4 weeks followed by 1 week break each cycle.  I would appreciate any tips on how to prepare mum before treatment and what do do after treatment to minimise side effects as much as possible.  Mum is 82yo and it worries me how she will cope. Thank you.


  • ddon
    ddon Member Posts: 349
    I am sorry your mum is facing chemo at the age of 82. It’s hard enough without being elderly. I don’t know that there’s much preparation - just be there for her in the days following. After one or two sessions she will know which are her bad days, what she feels like eating etc. and that helps to prepare for the next treatment. Before then it’s hard to know how she will react. Paclitaxel - I found - is not too nasty. It affected my taste buds and gradually made me tired but compared to other chemo drugs it was pretty mild. Dry nasal membranes and bleeding nose every time I blew it, and some muscle aches on day 3,4. Otherwise I was fine - but I am 47 not 82. 
    Your support and care will help her most of all - best wishes. 
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,257
    Agree with @ddon, taste buds can be affected, as can soft tissue (mouth, nose, eyes) but all recover quickly when treatment ends. Tingling in the end of the fingers and in the toes can be peripheral neuropathy, which can take longer to clear. Talk to your mother’s oncologist about how to limit this. Nausea and fatigue are the most common side effects - there is not much you can do about either - medication will be provided to assist with nausea, but some people never get it (like me). Fatigue can sometimes be hard to assess, the whole rigmarole can make anyone tired. Just rest as needed. Best wishes to you both. 
  • BlancaP
    BlancaP Member Posts: 12
    Thanks @ddon and @Afraser, your suggestions and kind thoughts are very much appreciated. X <3
  • kazb
    kazb Member Posts: 25
    fruit tingles really help with taste and mild nausea.  I found they helped with strange taste too during the actual infusion.  Eating when hungry, my go to was vegemite bagel chips, drinking a lot of water each day, I had a jug of water ( 2lt) that I filled each morning so I could moniter how much I drank, and if your mum is able to, walk each day, even 20 minutes will help.like @ddon said, dry nose leading to blood nose can happen, there is a lubricating nose spray (made by fess with sesame oil) that helps and also paw paw cream in each nostril at night.  Hope all goes well for your mum, your support will be the biggest help
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,247
    All the best for your Mum as she starts her chemo - when my husband had his chemo, he was in his mid 70s and totally lost his appetite, so I was trying to 'value add' to what food he COULD eat so that he didn't lose too much weight ....  

    Fruit Smoothies were good for him when he felt crook - I'd add custard & cream to them for some extra calories.  He also loved smoked fish pies - so gave me a good excuse to go out fishing!  ;)

    Take care & all the best xx  

  • BlancaP
    BlancaP Member Posts: 12
    So grateful for your tips to help mum during her chemo - thanks so much @kasb and @arpie X <3
  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 445
    Dear BlancaP,
    I too, am sorry to hear that your dear mother needs Chemo. 
    Try not to worry. It may not be that bad. It's not bad for everyone. My side effects have been very manageable.
    I'm 62yrs and I know she is 82yrs, but keep an open mind.
    I have had taste changes too, I might go and get some  fruit tingles. That some one suggested, as I do like them. 
    I'm due for my 10th Paclitaxel on Monday, I still haven't worked out if I have a pattern for good and bad days.
    The Dexamethasone (often given before the Chemo) can make sleep more difficult on Chemo nights.
    There is a degree of tiredness, I try not to nap in the day, hoping to sleep better at night. There have only been a few days that a sleep in bed seemed essential, as opposed to a nap in the lounge chair.
    She will know when to rest.
    I found Chemo days more tiring when I had an early appointment. I hate early starts.
    If she is the same as me, maybe she can give a preference for her times.
    Another thing that I enjoy is a heat pack, that I use for occasional back pain, In my lounge chair.
    I was given an electrical one for my birthday.
    It is the same as the one they use during my Chemo.
    Hopefully you and her have been given information re side effects, as we do need to know of them and watch out, and report them.
    Peripheral neuropathy as Afraser said, is the nasty one to watch out for and report.
    I hope that you can go with her. COVID has gotten in the way of support, for some of us undergoing Chemo. I'm still not allowed anyone.  Ask anyway.
    You haven't said what state she is in. 
    Good luck to both of you. Keep in touch.

  • BlancaP
    BlancaP Member Posts: 12
    Dear @Abbydog, thank you so much for your suggestions and kind words, it means so much to me and my mum.  We are in Western Australia and I do hope they let me in to be with mum during her chemo sessions.  Mum can't speak English so hopefully they will  as I will need to translate.

    Mum also hates early starts so I will ask for lunch or early afternoon appointments.  I really don't know how mum is going to fare with all of this.  I will definitely get the fruit tingles and make sure she applies paw paw in her nostrils to keep moisturised. I do have a heat pack at home that I can use. Mum has lost her appetite already and it is also a struggle getting her to drink enough fluids.  I'm thinking about asking the doctor to put her on a drip on her chemo days otherwise she won't be hydrated enough.  Thanks again.  <3
  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 445
    Is your Mum unwell already?  You've said she already has trouble with appetite and drinking?
    It didn't sound like she has had any Chemo as yet.
    Don't push her to have fruit tingles or use the Paw Paw in her nostrils until she needs them. She may not need or like them.
    I used vaseline in my nose, but only a few days I was bothered enough to need it. Just have these things available should she need them. 
    I guess stock up on the drinks and foods that she likes, you probably already have.
    Definitely discuss with the Doctor/Oncologist, you mother's difficulty with intake.
    My mother, when she had Chemo, was difficult too. We can only try, and do our best.
    I do wish you both good luck and all the best.

  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,257
    Anxiety will affect appetite and many older people don’t hydrate enough. My mother used to get a taste for a particular drink (bitter lemon, pink grapefruit!) and then go off it! I’m sure your GP or oncologist can advise. Best wishes.
  • jennyss
    jennyss Member Posts: 1,898
    Dear @BlancaP,

    Here are some flowers for you and your mother.
    Best wishes from jennyss in Western NSW

  • BlancaP
    BlancaP Member Posts: 12
    Mum had her right lung drained last Monday and left lung drained today.  She is recovering in hospital and will have first chemo treatment on Wednesday. A dietitian came to see mum today and gave us some suggestions about diet.  Mum's oncologist said water is a must or mum's kidney's won't cope which will be disastrous.  My main challenge will be to keep mum hydrated.Thank you all for well wishes, advice and flowers @jennyss, @Afraser@Abbydog, @kazb, @arpie.  
  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 445
    Poor Mum, I do hope that she picks up. She certainly has some issues to cope with. 
    Will Mum be an inpatient for her Chemotherapy? 
    Sounds like the Oncologist is understanding of her intake issues.
    All the best for Mum, And for you supporting her. Thinking of you both
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,247
    Thinking of you and your Mum as she starts her chemo.  She's been thru the mill already!  :(  

    Yes, the hydration is really important even after the chemo dose, to help flush it out of the system as well.

    All the best xx
  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 445
    Thinking of you both. How is your Mum? And how are you?