Newly Diagnosed

The following advice is based on my own experience with cancer -- chemo, surgery, and all that goes with it:

If you have a port:

Port site will be sore for a time after insertion -- sleep sitting up for a time.

Get one of those things to wrap around the seat belt in the car to cushion port site.  I’ve found that these Port Pillows work wonderfully, and she’ll mail you one for free:

Put Lidocaine on port site before chemo (your infusion nurses may give you Lidocaine and Tegaderm (the clear plastic to cover it), or your doctor may give you a prescription for Lidocaine, and you can cover it with Saran Wrap).

If you’re having chemo:

Make sure the shirt you wear to chemo makes it easy to access your port.

Suck on a popsicle or ice chips as chemo med is going is to prevent mouth sores.

Use plastic utensils to offset the metallic taste when eating. 

Mints or hard candy to help with the metallic taste, and dry mouth.  What works best for me at the mints they hand out at Chick-fil-A.

Take blanket to chemo, as most infusion centers are chilly (or, most infusion centers have blankets).

Pack light.  For my first chemo session, I took a bag with a book, some knitting, a coloring book and colored pencils, snacks for me and my husband, a few magazines, tons of stuff to keep me occupied.  I ended up sleeping through most of it.  Now I bring some knitting and make sure I have a book loaded on my Overdrive or Kindle app on my phone.  Some infusion centers provide snacks and/or lunch.  Check to see if yours does.  Definitely bring a notepad and pen.

If having Neulasta after chemo, take

  • Tylenol before shot
  •  Claritin the morning of, and three mornings after

General tips/info:

Set up a notebook to keep all of your medical information.

Register for a Look Good, Feel Better session

Sign up with Cleaning for a Reason

Look into a retreat for your family with Little Pink Houses of Hope

check out this website for more:


  1. Hi Tammy, I am Dana Nancy's coworker. She told me about your blog and that I should reach out to you. I have only read a bit of it so far but it already seem to be helping me. I am getting my port tomorrow but then they are doing full body scans and using the port the very next day. It sounds like that is going to be quite painful. Anything I should do or ask for before they use it on Thursday?

    1. Hi Dana. In my experience, the port was uncomfortable for the first week or so, but then the body gets used to it. After they put my port in, they immediately accessed it to the a lung biopsy. It was fine. My suggestion to you, and do this every time your port is accessed: Put Lidocaine on it 20 minutes to an hour before it'll be accessed. Lidocaine will numb the site and make it less painful. Usually nurses in the infusion center will give you small tubes of Lidocaine (just ask for a new one as the current one runs out). They should give you tegaderm patches to put over it so the Lidocaine doesn't get on your clothes. If they don't give you tegaderm, you can use Saran Wrap and medical tape. :) Alternatively, if you forget or don't have Lidocaine, ask the nurse for a bag of ice to put on it for five to ten minutes. That will numb it and make it less painful.
      Please feel free to ask me anything. I'm very open and hope to help. I'll ask Nancy to give you my cell phone number (I don't want to put here on the blog). Please call or text if you'd like. During my first chemo session, I had quite the texting conversation with a friend who had gone through it before and it helped me immensely. That is, until the Benadryl put me to sleep. ;) I work at a school, so I can't check my phone much, but I will get back to you. You'll do fine. Remember to breathe.

    2. You can also find me on facebook -- Tammy Footen Payne


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