A Career in Psychiatric Nursing

 

Nursing is a very good profession. There is demand, the pay is quite good, the health benefits are okay, and there are a lot of specializations that you can go to in case you get tired of being stuck in one practice. One interesting opportunity is a career in psychiatric nursing.

What is a psychiatric nurse? This is a nurse that works in the psychiatric ward or mental health department of a hospital or medical facility and whose primary function is to take care and evaluate patients who display conditions and symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Also included in their scope are conditions brought about by substance abuse problems. So you can see that the scope of a psychiatric nurse’s job is not as limited as the title signifies.

Together with the doctors in the department, it is often part of the psychiatric nurse’s responsibilities to create a series of treatment plans that would help manage the conditions of each patient in the ward. Aside from the regular work of nurses, there are opportunities to work as researchers and even consultants on the field of psychiatry and psychiatric treatments. Often, they also serve as buffer or a support pillar for the families of the patients, explaining to them the conditions and the treatments involved.

There are certain steps that one has to undertake if he/she wants to be a psychiatric nurse. Because of the responsibilities involved, a psychiatric nurse is often required to take more courses as preparation to the tasks they will be handling. A masters degree or even a doctorate can be sometimes required or if not will definitely become handy in landing a better position.

To be more specific, the delegation of tasks can be divided into basic and advanced. The basic responsibilities of an entry level psychiatric nurse include working with the patients, their families, the community if possible and the support groups.  It is also a basic requirement that nurses will be able to assess the mental health of patients, create nursing plans of action, and can put the necessary treatment plans into practice.

The next level would be the advanced level where an advanced level of education is necessary. This is where the masters degree specializing on psychiatric nursing will be required. With their education and experience, psychiatric nurses in the advanced level are expected to diagnose and treat patients and their families that manifest psychiatric disorders. They also do some important administrative work by keeping in touch with researchers, colleagues in the private sector in order to develop programs that would be agreeable to the general regulations of the hospital.

In this field nurses can still choose a specialization. There are still different fields of study in psychiatry. There’s psychiatric nursing for the elderly, for teens, and for children. There’s also the field of substance abuse and, of course, the field of forensics.

If we’re going to talk about the remunerations involved in a psychiatric nursing, the amount really depends on the skills, education and experience of the nurse. The location and kind of hospital is also part of how much a career in psychiatric nursing will make.

Nurses with more education and experience under their belt will normally earn more. Psychiatric nurses will continue to be in demand in the near future.

Information You Should Know About a Career in Nursing

 

Nurses are in the business of saving lives. Although they do not perform surgery, they work hand in hand with doctors and other experts so that the patient may recover. Sadly, there is a shortage of such professionals in the industry. If you don’t know yet what you want to do with your life, maybe the information provided here will make you consider nursing as a possible career choice.

Anyone who wants to start a career in nursing must at least be a high school graduate with good academic standings. He or she must also have a sufficient score in the SAT and the nursing entrance exam.

There are over 1,500 nursing programs currently available and there are three types that will enable the student to start their nursing career. There is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing that is a 4 year course, the Associate Degree in Nursing and the Hospital Diploma both of which are 2 year courses.

Aside from working in the hospital, you will have the opportunity to find work in other places such as schools, correctional facilities, research labs, private companies, health care centers and private homes.

A full time employed resident nurse makes about $46,800 annually while staff nurses make about $42,100. This isn’t that bad when you are working in an entry level position. If you decide to pursue advanced studies later on like a masters or a doctorate degree, you can expect to earn around $61,000 to $63,550.

There are approximately 2.7 million licensed registered nurses in the US and majority of them are women. Men only represent 5.4% of the total population but in the US military, 33% of them are men.

The environment where nurses work is usually well lighted and clean. Most of your time will be spent bending, stretching, standing and walking. You will work not only on the dayshift but also on a nightshift including weekends and holidays. You may be on call on short notice if there is a need for additional manpower to help out in the hospital.

You have the option to work as a full time or part time nurse. In 2006, 21% of registered nurses worked part time as some held another job.

Despite the clean environment, sometimes nurses are prone to hazards. These include coming into contact with patients that are afflicted with infectious diseases and need harmful, hazardous or toxic medication in order to recover. This can be prevented of course by wearing the proper gear and equipment.

Accidents also happen at the workplace such as accidental needle sticks, chemical spills that are used to sterilize equipment and radiation. But nurses are very vulnerable to back injuries, gases and shocks from electrical equipment.

Since nurses are only human, they may also suffer from emotional strain from caring for patients that are suffering from unrelieved intense pain, personal contact with the patient’s family, the need to make crucial decisions as well as ethical dilemmas.

This just goes to show that life as a nurse is not easy and those who can stomach the ups and downs will be the only ones to stay in this profession for a very long time. The question you have to ask yourself after reading this is whether or not you have what is takes to be a nurse.

Nursing, a Second Career

 

It is never too late to learn something new. This is the reason that some decide to go back to school to enroll in a new course or even pursue a master’s or doctorate degree. If you have the desire to help people, perhaps you should consider nursing as a second career.

Nursing is a noble profession because you are able to help a patient recover from an injury or illness. It enables you to think about problem and how to solve it so you don’t just follow the doctor’s orders.

To become a nurse, you have to go back to school to learn about biology, chemistry and a few other subjects that will help you understand how you are able to help a patient when you get the chance to work in a clinical setting.

Given that there are more 1,500 programs all across the United States, you should do some research about the school you plan to enroll in. Some of the things you should consider are how much it costs, the curriculum they use and if they are accredited by the nursing board.

For those that cannot afford tuition, they can apply for aid, a loan or scholarship if this is offered by the school. If you still want to work while studying at the same time, you can ask if there are part time courses available or classes held at night.

Once you graduate, you will have to pass the state licensure exam and if things look good, you may now apply for work in a hospital or clinic.

If you are able to stay as a nurse for a number of years and want to advance your career further, you can do so by enrolling in advance courses. This will allow you to specialize in one field of nursing and become head of a group of nurses or work as a consultant, educator, instructor or researcher.

Shifting to a career in nursing may be frightening at first because you are stepping outside your comfort zone and moving into the unknown. But if this is really what you want, surely you will do your best to hurdle over these blocks and succeed in this endeavor.

Studies have shown that a lot of people decide to shift to nursing because of the money you can make. If this is your primary reason, you shouldn’t even bother because chances are, you won’t be staying here for the long term.

To succeed, you must have the desire to help people because you are in a life saving business where mistakes could mean the difference between life and death.

Aside from nursing, those of you who don’t want this job but still want to help patients can take on other positions. You can find work as a pharmacist, technician or lab assistant who also plays a role in the hospital as they work with doctors and nurses.

How well you are as a nurse is entirely up to you. Naturally, there will be people there to help you out but it is your decision to take their advice or to take another step forward. If you are not happy in this new career, don’t be afraid to shift to another.

After all, you did it before and you probably still haven’t found the kind of challenge that you are looking for.

The Benefits of a Nursing Career

 

If you’re going to take up a career, why not choose a career in healthcare. Okay, being a doctor may not be your thing but what about being a nurse? There are a number of benefits of a nursing career. If you join the nursing field, you will be joining a career that is the largest in the field of healthcare.

Probably one of the most notable advantage of having a career in nursing is the opportunity to work practically anywhere in the world. Nurses are always in demand. Developed countries like the US, Canada, countries in Europe and Japan, needs health care professionals to man the needed posts in their hospitals and clinics. And job opportunities abroad seem to be always increasing and is continuous.

The demand for nurses is not limited to medication facilities like hospitals and clinics. There are demands for nurses in other areas, such as in schools, colleges, universities, as well as companies and corporations. Nurses are also being hired to join non-government and inter-government organizations. They are being sought after as private home nurses, nurse midwives, clinical nurse practitioners, and even nurse anesthetists.

With the right license and certification, nurses can diversify their field, going from one area of specialization to another. There’s chance a nurses’ life will be boring. The opportunities are very spread out and the number needed is quite significant, so nurses in general will always have a high level of job security for they are always needed.

In terms of employment, there is always a need for nurses. Then let’s go to another important aspect of being a nurse: the pay. A career in nursing pays well, at least that remains true in developed countries. Nurses that came from developing countries like in Asia and in Africa are more engaged to having a rewarding and fulfilling.

There are different kinds of study program available to would be nurses. There are vocational training schools which offer short nursing education which lasts for more than a year or so. Those who want to be included in the registered nurse list of passers need to have a diploma showing that they have finished an associate or baccalaureate program.

Nurses also function as educators and can take on the responsibilities of such, having to explain the details to the disease to the family of the patients and their immediate community. As nurses, you will be able to interact with families and people in their community. Unlike any other health care profession, nurses are perhaps the only ones that are able to form bonds with their patients. The rest of the medical community, even the doctors, does not establish such close personal bonds between the nurses and their patients.

However, those who decide to enter the career of nursing needs to be prepared for shifting schedules, holiday work, and working around sick and dying patients a lot. It you cannot take any of these situations then a nursing career is probably not for you.

You can learn more about the career by browsing the Web, looking at career websites, brochures and newsletters. You can even talk to actual nurses and get their say about the matter. But in a nutshell, the benefits of a nursing career include career flexibility, a chance to grow career wise and as a person especially with the satisfaction one receives from helping people out.

The Daily Responsibility of a Career in Nursing

 

What are the daily responsibilities of a nurse? It will depend on what kind of nursing you are in. But whatever it is, the truth is that this career requires a lot of passion to fuel your energy and last in the field.

This truth can be applied in all professions. You cannot excel and definitely you cannot last in any field if your heart is not into it. As a nurse, you are accountable not only for yourself but also for the people who need your help.

Too much stress, they say, can cause a person to gain weight. Can it be that because nursing is a stressful career, that one will gain weight once they are into it? It can actually be. If you are always on the go and you no longer have time to eat, you will definitely grab not just a bite but bigger bites once you afford that luxury.

Too much eating at once will disrupt your body’s ability to regulate your weight. This will result in additional pounds. But of course, this can be solved by being vigilant with the issue.

You already have an advantage because you are into the health industry. You will know what foods are okay and what types contain a lot of fats, calories and all those contributing factor for a person to gain weight.

Aside from watching what you eat, you must also treat yourself with regular exercises. This will not only keep the weight down but it will also keep your brain functioning well. Nursing requires you to be physically as well as mentally capable to execute your tasks.

The Tasks
Practicing nurses can be assigned to different responsibilities. Some are assigned to visit hospital in different places, visit nursing homes or orphanages. They must attend personally to the needs of the patients. This is for the reason that the patients can no longer afford to go to them. That is why the nurses are being set up to be the ones to come personally to the people who need their expertise.

Some nurses are being tasked to conduct researches on different places. They do this for some pharmaceutical companies for the development of some drugs or some forms of treatment. They act as aides to the main people who are doing the research. They lend their expertise in the field for the research to be good.

Some nurses are assigned on cruise ships and other mobile industries. They treat the people who may have incurred sudden sickness or injuries while on the road or at the sea, whatever applies on the situation presented.

Nurses can work on a temporary period like those on the travel nursing career. They can also acquire the service of agencies to get jobs for them. They can also be paid per output basis.

Nursing is a hard profession but one that is worth the hard work. People in this field must be attributed with respect for the amount of quality time they have given into the profession.

So the next time you ask yourself what is the daily responsibility of a nursing career, you must think the abovementioned. There are many tasks and all those require the person involved to be responsible.

Hair Drug Testing

During the last 20 years, both schools and employers have regularly implemented drug testing.  Urine tests are usually the most common form of screening; however, many people have devised methods to beat these tests and created products used to make the appearance of the drugs.  Synthetic urine and masking chemicals are widely available, and they can be effective in blocking even the most severe cases of drug abuse.  Because of this growing market, many employers have chosen to use hair follicle drug testing instead.

Hair drug testing costs much more than sweat, saliva or urine tests.  However, the benefits often far outweigh the costs.  Employers find hair follicle drug testing to be less invasive and it can often detect drugs as much as twice as far back as other testing methods.  Hair follicle testing can also reveal if an employee has recently stopped using drugs in order to hide their usage.  Another advantage is the fact that it’s usually harder to mask drugs in the system with this form of testing.

The hair follicle drug test requires taking a small sample of the employee’s hair. An official within the company can often collect the hair on-site which is less embarrassing than the collection of urine.  The sample is sent to the lab where it is first washed before being tested.  This is done to minimize the chance of drug chemicals that may have originated from external sources affecting the test.

Urine testing is still commonly used by employers to screen existing or prospective employees for drug use.  However, many are beginning to turn to hair follicle drug testing.  Although many people use different methods such as purchasing urine from a “clean” individual to beat a urine test, they are unable to beat the current masking procedures currently used in hair drug testing.  Some products claim to be able to mask drugs in hair samples, but these are usually inaccurate or completely false claims.  Hair follicle drug testing is a less invasive and more effective method than other choices.

Will My Breast Cancer Come Back? Reducing the Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence After Surgery

More than 215,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. For many of them, surgery to remove the tumor is just the first step in the battle against the disease, often followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy. After that, these women may need to decide with their doctor whether to have “adjuvant therapy”-medication to help prevent their cancer from coming back.

When a woman’s breast cancer does come back or spreads to other parts of the body, she may be at greater risk of dying from the disease. Women whose breast cancer is detected in the nearby lymph nodes at diagnosis and those who receive chemotherapy after surgery are considered to be at increased risk for breast cancer recurrence.

Postmenopausal women whose early-stage breast cancer is hormone-sensitive have a new option as their first hormone therapy following surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Femara® (letrozole tablets) on December 28, 2005 for this type of use. This approval was based on a median of 24 months of treatment. The study is still ongoing to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of Femara. Already a leading breast cancer treatment, Femara is now the only medicine in a group called aromatase inhibitors that is approved for use both immediately following surgery and after five years of tamoxifen. The FDA granted Femara a priority review, a distinction reserved for medications that could potentially offer a significant improvement compared to products currently on the market.

A panel from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the country’s leading group of oncologists, recommends aromatase inhibitors, such as Femara, be part of the optimal adjuvant treatment for this group of women.

“One of the greatest fears confronted by women who have been treated for early breast cancer is that their cancer will come back. With Femara, we now have an option that can help address that fear early on, even in patients who we know face the greatest risk of recurrence,” said Matthew Ellis, MD, PhD, FRCP, director of the Breast Cancer Program at Washington University in St. Louis.

In a large clinical study of post-surgery breast cancer treatment, researchers compared the effectiveness of Femara and tamoxifen, another drug prescribed after surgery. An analysis performed after 26 months showed that Femara reduced the risk of breast cancer coming back by 21% over the reduction offered by tamoxifen. Patients taking Femara also showed a 27 percent reduction in the risk of the cancer spreading to distant parts of the body.

In this study, women at increased risk of recurrence experienced the greatest benefit from Femara. Femara lowered this risk by 29 percent in women whose breast cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis and by 30 percent in women who had prior chemotherapy. The results also showed that in these high-risk women, Femara reduced the risk of cancer spreading to distant parts of the body by 33 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

In this study, Femara was generally well tolerated with the most common side effects including hot flashes, joint pain, night sweats, weight gain and nausea.

Tips for Living Healthy

Discuss postsurgery treatment options with an oncologist. Whether you’re one, five or 10 years beyond your diagnosis, taking care of your overall health and well-being can also reduce your risk of cancer coming back and give you the energy to do the things in life that you love.

• Practice good nutrition

• Exercise regularly

• Tap into a support network

• Take time out for yourself

Editors Note: Important safety information

Femara® (letrozole tablets) is approved for the adjuvant (following surgery) treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor−positive early breast cancer. The benefits of Femara in clinical trials are based on 24 months of treatment. Further follow-up will be needed to determine long-term results, safety and effectiveness.

Talk to your doctor if you’re allergic to Femara or any of its ingredients. You should not take Femara if you are pregnant as it may cause fetal harm. You must be postmenopausal to take Femara. Some women reported fatigue and dizziness with Femara. Until you know how it affects you, use caution before driving or operating machinery. There was an increase in cholesterol in patients on Femara versus tamoxifen (5.4% vs. 1.2%).

In the adjuvant setting, commonly reported side effects were generally mild to moderate. Side effects seen in Femara versus tamoxifen included hot flashes (33.7% vs. 38%), joint pain (21.2% vs. 13.5%), night sweats (14.1% vs. 13.5%), weight gain (10.7% vs. 12.9%) and nausea (9.5% vs. 10.4%). Other side effects seen were bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Really? Hydrogen peroxide for yeast infection

 

Whether you believe it or not, the use of hydrogen peroxide for yeast infection treatment has been proven to be true and quite effective. Vaginal yeast infection is among the more common conditions that women experience. In fact, according to statistics, about 75% of all women will be affected by the infection at some point. It may already be considered as an ordinary condition so don’t be alarmed. You’re not the only one who has the infection and certainly you will not be the last one.

Microorganisms that live on human skin and in the digestive track are the primary cause of yeast infection. Called Candida albicans, these microorganisms are naturally occurring and lives on the skin and inside your vagina. They are usually in small numbers, however some stimuli would trigger an overgrowth of Candida causeing the body to react resulting to an infection accompanied by itching, redness, irritations, and white or yellowish discharge.

Vaginal yeast infection is highly treatable so you don’t have to be overly concern. There are already a number of commercially available drugs which are quite effective in treating yeast infection. Home remedies also are quite good if you know what you’re doing. Hydrogen peroxide in particular is an easy home made solution to your yeast infection problems.

Just like Candida albicans hydrogen peroxide is already present in the vaginal areas. It’s already there working its best in putting the yeast infectious microorganism at bay. However, due to certain conditions, the environment in the area becomes suddenly favorable to the growth of Candida. Hydrogen peroxide generally helps eliminate bacteria and fungal infections. It is a natural enemy of Candida and thus can be utilized fully as a treatment procedure for the infection.

Since our body produces only very little hydrogen peroxide, you can help by purchasing commercially available ones in the local supermarket or in your neighborhood pharmacy. What you can do is mix a teaspoon of ordinary 3% hydrogen peroxide to a cup of water and apply it on the affected areas. Because hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally by the body, the chemical does not harm your vagina or the general health of your body.

What makes hydrogen peroxide very effective against Candida is the fact that peroxides breaks down into water and oxygen upon application. The oxygen helps the chemical application kill the fungal yeast infection. You need to be careful, however, when creating your own mix of hydrogen peroxide treatment solution. Too much hydrogen peroxide in the solution can cause a burning sensation in the affected areas. This burning sensation may likely to occur especially if the area has been inflamed or the infection is already quite serious.

A teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide on a cup of water seems to be an okay and safe mix. So far no bad reactions or complaints have been noted against this mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water for treating yeast infection.

You need to understand, however, the using the mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water is not meant to be a sole treatment solution for yeast infection. Natural remedies like this one is more effective when combined with other forms of treatment like proper diet and the use of other treatment techniques like the use of garlic paste, yogurt, and cider vinegar and water mix.

Other times, the condition might have reached an already critical stage that hydrogen peroxide for yeast infection treatment is no longer advisable. You need to consult a doctor and employ several other methods of treatment to cure your yeast infections.

A Career in Neonatal Nursing – Do You Have What It Takes?

 

If you want to start a career in neonatal nursing, you must not be only good with kids, you must love them no matter how loud they wail. NNP or the neonatal nurse practitioners are professionals who are highly skilled. They must have extreme experience when it comes to newborn babies.

As a neonatal nurse, you’re dealing with infants most of the time, this can really be too much stressful. You have to feed the babies. You have to clean after their messes. You have to check up on them all the time. Those tasks can eat up all your time.

At such events when you no longer have time to eat, when you already find the luxury to do it, you cannot help but do such extravagantly. As a result, gaining weight is becoming an issue for those in the field.

If you are too concerned about the weight gain that might happen to you once you are into the field, counteract those thoughts. Just think about what you can do to keep fit while staying healthy. You need all the energy that you can muster in your field. Babies are not too easy to take care of. So you have to match your skills with physical abilities.

Neo Natal
The term neo means new. And natal means birth. You need to take care of newborn infants once you are in the field of neonatal nursing. This means that the babies can be as old as 28 days.

This is such a sensitive part of their development. They are very fragile at this moment. So your responsibility as a nurse is very big. You must also have a big heart to be able to succeed in the field and last in it.

There are different levels of neonatal nursing.

Level One
When you are assigned on level one, your task is to care for healthy newborn babies. This will be easy because you won’t need to worry too much about their physical condition. Most of the time, your help won’t be necessary because the mothers themselves will take the tasks off you. All you have to do is guide them through it.

Level Two
You have to take care of ill babies who were born prematurely. You have to keep watch on them all the time. You have to provide for the babies needs. You have to give them their meds and oxygen whenever necessary. And you must also know when it is necessary through a periodic table wherein you can list your tasks to do and the accomplished ones.

Level Three
On this level, you will be assigned to work on the NICU or the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The babies are your patients. You have to make sure that they have all they need to survive. You need to monitor everything, from their monitors to their ventilators. Anything bad that will happen to them may be faulted to you so you need to be very careful.

A career in neonatal nursing requires a lot of patience and hard work. But if this is really your passion, you might as well go for it. Offer your services where it is needed. You will surely go a long way in life when you are always thinking about the sake of others first before you think about your own.

Breast Cancer Treatment: Surviving Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a word that strikes fear into most of our hearts. We’ve seen the movies and heard such horrible stories about undergoing this difficult treatment for a disease that could very well kill us. I underwent chemo for breast cancer, and here are some of the things I learned.
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Chemotherapy is a word that strikes fear into most of our hearts. We’ve seen the movies and heard such horrible stories about undergoing this difficult treatment for a disease that could very well kill us. I underwent chemo for breast cancer and know that, in some cases, the cancer isn’t hard … it isn’t painful … it doesn’t make us sick. That’s the case for most of us who have breast cancer, but don’t have distant metastases. But then, they say we need to do chemo and we know we’ll feel that.

Although chemo drugs haven’t changed that much, and they’re still terribly hard on our bodies, the management drugs have changed a lot. Chemotherapy, for many of us, isn’t the show-stopper we thought it would be. Of course, each of us is different and the chemo drugs affect each of us in different ways, but, for the most part, chemo is definitely doable.

My breast cancer was Stage IIIa, with a 5.8 cm tumor, 8 of 10 lymph nodes positive, and I was only 39 years old. That bought me a ticket for the chemo ride. And I was scared out of my wits. But, I found an online breast cancer support group, at WebMD, and those women told me everything to expect and more. I went through four rounds of adriamycin and cytoxan. Both of them are some pretty stout breast cancer chemo drugs. After that, I did a controversial treatment that involved extremely high doses of cytoxan, taxol, and cisplatin, so I learned quite a bit about surviving chemotherapy.

First of all, I would highly recommend getting a port. This is a line that goes into a vein in your chest, the entrance to which sits just under your skin, right below your collarbone. It requires a quick surgery to put it in but, if you’re having a mastectomy for your breast cancer, you can get the chemo port put in at the same time. If you choose not to do that, you’ll have to get your chemo treatments through your veins and chemo is really hard on your veins. This means that you will, most likely, have to endure multiple attempts for them to find a vein, as time goes by. With the port, it’s already in a vein, so all they have to do is stick the needle into the port to access it. If you find this uncomfortable, there is a cream they can give you called Emla cream. One of the first things I learned was to tell them the moment I was uncomfortable. It’s all fixable. You’ll put the Emla cream on a bit before you have to have your port accessed and it’ll numb your skin.

Most breast cancer chemotherapy drugs will cause your hair to fall out. This is because chemo kills the rapidly dividing cells in your body. Your mucous areas and hair follicles are affected for this reason. That’s why you may have nausea or develop mouth or throat sores. Again, all this sounds scary, but is totally manageable. Since you will probably be losing your hair, which can be quite traumatic, I would advise going wig or hat shopping before you even get your first chemo. Take a girlfriend with you and be adventurous. Try on different styles, and even colors. If you’ve always wanted to be a blonde, now’s your chance! Make a day of it and have fun with it. Goodness knows, you have to look for that silver lining every chance you get. Also, make sure to have your nausea med prescription filled before you go so you’ll have it waiting for you if you need it at home. You may be pretty tired, afterward, so don’t wait till then to get those meds.

On your first chemo day, they will probably give you some steroids, intravenously or through your port, to help with the nausea. This may make you hungry; it sure did for me! But, I would recommend you don’t eat your favorite food on chemo day. Chemo is manageable, but after you’re all done, you may find that you have associations. For example, I used to love the cucumber melon fragrance when I was going through chemo. I had cucumber melon everything! But, to this day, the smell of cucumber melon makes my stomach do a little somersault because it reminds me of such an unpleasant time in my life. The same can happen with food. I still can’t look a chicken burrito in the eye! But, I’m sure glad I didn’t eat a taco because I would’ve hated for that to be ruined for me!

Many breast cancer chemo drugs are hard on your bladder, so be sure to drink, drink, drink. If you don’t feel like drinking water, then broth, jello, or even popsicles will help. Since you’ve gotten your nausea meds all filled in advance, be sure to take them as prescribed, whether you think you need them or not. Chemo nausea isn’t just any kind of nausea and it’s much easier to stay ahead of it than to try to fix it once it occurs. If you do happen to get nauseated, and I can’t stress this enough, call your doctor!!! There are many, many nausea meds and you do not have to feel sick just because you’re doing chemo. Once they find the right drug for you, it will be so much easier. So, do not suffer this in silence! The same applies for if you get sores in your mouth or throat.

You will be tired from this treatment. Most of us get more tired as the treatments progress because they make our white blood cell counts drop really low. Because of this, it’s a good idea to keep some Purell, or something similar, with you all the time for use when you’ve had to touch, for example, public restroom door handles. Your risk of infection will be much higher during this time.

If you lose your hair, it will typically happen in 10-14 days after your first chemo treatment. If you have long hair, you might want to cut it short in preparation. I know I felt so out of control of everything, during that time. When your hair comes out, it lets go quickly and in large clumps, getting all over your pillow and clogging your drain. For many women, that is more traumatic than even losing a breast. So, I figured that was the one thing I could control about this whole breast cancer thing … when my hair came out. I cut it really short, beforehand and, when it started to let go, I had my husband get the clippers and shave my head. My daughter helped and we did a little Mohawk and stripe action first!

That was my way of shaking my fist at this cancer … it might take my breasts, and it might take my hair for a while, but I beat it to the punch! It was my way of saying, “You cannot take my spirit!” You can do the same thing. Your breast cancer does not define you. It is but a speed bump in the course of your life. Strap on your gloves and step into the ring. This chemo is your biggest punch. Your spirit is your own and that breast cancer can’t touch it!