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Getting Past the Fear: A Guide to Help You Mentally Prepare for Chemotherapy

Getting Past the Fear: A Guide to Help You Mentally Prepare for Chemotherapy

It’s been three years since I started chemo. Even now, July represents chemo month to me. Of course July represents many other and mostly summery things as well, but the memory of chemo is permanently branded into my mind’s registry of summer memories. That July three years ago was part of the summer that wasn’t.

The day I learned chemo was in my near future was a truly horrible day. The thought of willingly introducing toxic poisons into my body was terrifying, but not doing it was even more so. I felt completely cornered. I felt I had lost control of an awful lot and I realized there was more loss to come.

Mostly, I was afraid.

Hubby and I searched for resources to prepare ourselves for the unknowns of chemo. I remember the day we headed for our local book store and as I meandered down the medical aisles trying to appear nonchalant about paging through books about chemo, I knew I was a complete fraud; in reality I was terrified.

When I finally made my selection, I quickly handed it over to dear hubby and begged asked him to please pay for it. I couldn’t even bring myself to go through the checkout line. That would be admitting I had cancer. That would be admitting I was about to face chemo. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. This alone tells you a bit about my state of mind at that time.

The book I purchased that day was a good one, but still it wasn’t what I was really looking for.

I couldn’t find that one.

What was I looking for?

I wanted to know more than just what to expect regarding side effects and such.

Sure, I wanted to know what to eat, what not eat, how to handle nausea, things to call my oncologist about, how to deal with diaherrea/constipation, fatigue, flushing and mouth sores – all that stuff.

But more than that, I wanted to know how to get my mind ready.

I wanted to feel more emotionally prepared before starting. Even though I knew everyone’s experience is different, I still wanted to read about it from someone who had been there. The physical/medical angle was covered; in some ways that was the “easy” part of preparation.

I wanted to read about the nitty-gritty reality side of things from someone who understood my fear about starting chemo.

I never found that resource.

I knew there were others out there in the same position. I knew there were others out there facing chemo. I knew there were others out there feeling afraid.

I knew I was not alone.

That’s how my book, Getting Past the Fear:  A guide to help you mentally prepare for chemotherapy came about.

From the start, I knew what I wanted my book to be like and I knew what I wanted to cover in it.

First and foremost, I wanted my book to be the next best thing to sitting down with a friend who’s had chemo for a face-to-face chat about what the experience was really like. I also knew it had to be a quick and easy read for minds being flooded with thoughts of cancer and impending chemo.

Here are some of the topics I cover in my book:

  • Processing through the news you need chemo and acknowledging your true feelings

  • How to cope with losing your hair (not losing your hair is also addressed)

  • How to buy a wig IF you choose to buy/wear one

  • Questions to ask your oncologist before starting chemo

  • Why you should consider journaling and how to get started

  • What to expect on your first chemo day

  • Tips for taking care of yourself

  • Tips for tending to your partner’s needs

  • Looking forward

My hope is that all who read Getting Past the Fear will be able to face chemo for the first time feeling a bit more empowered and a bit less fearful.

Is it really possible to get past the fear?

Probably not, but sometimes a little bit of help makes all the difference in the world.

Have you undergone chemo or do you know someone who has/is?

How did you (or she/he) feel before beginning?

What’s your favorite resource about chemotherapy?

Click on image below for purchasing information

NOTE:  Getting Past the Fear is now available in print! Click here or on the image below to buy.

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Getting Past the Fear

17 thoughts to “Getting Past the Fear: A Guide to Help You Mentally Prepare for Chemotherapy”

  1. My biggest fear was chemo. I was so afraid of every aspect of it. Someone told me if I just got through the first infusion I would be fine, but that’s not what I found. The chemo was cumulative and with each round I lost something more until I was so sick I couldn’t keep anything down and the anti-emetics made me throw up. The side effects were intense. Losing my hair was no picnic. The only shining star was that my best friend was going through chemo at the same time as me and we helped each other along. It was so helpful to go with her to her doctor appointments and her go with me to mine. Real friends are so important and really make a difference when we experience difficult challenges. Great post. Thanks Nancy!

    1. Susan, I was really frightened by the prospect of chemo too and yes, the effects often are cumulative. I’m sorry you were so sick. I actually didn’t do too badly, or at least not as badly as I feared I might. I certainly had imagined the worst case scenario. It must have helped quite a bit to have your friend there going through it with you, though at the same time, that’s really sad too… thank you so much for commenting, Susan.

    2. Susan, Same for me. The cumulative affects made it progressively worse for certain.

      Nancy, I think there are two kinds of women, those who are like I was, which is to say, “Bring it on.” and those who become gripped with fear, whether they show it outwardly or not. I don’t think either kind of woman is weaker or stronger… it’s just a different perspective on how to make it through. I’m sure no matter which type a woman is… she will be in for surprises with her treatment. Things that seemed hard will not be so bad and things you hadn’t even thought of will make you feel awful.

      I know for me…. I will never say “Bring it on” again.

      1. Maria, I guess I’d say there are way more than two types, but I know what you mean. Every single one of us handles each phase of this cancer gig a bit differently. One thing I do know is that I was gripped by fear in regard to chemo. Maybe others aren’t as terrified, who knows? Thanks for taking time to comment. I appreciate it.

  2. I was Stage 4 right from the get go, so I was eager to get started with chemo right away. It signalled the end of the “mushroom” phase for me (being in the dark and being fed sh*t prognoses) and the beginning of standing up against this enemy.

    1. Jordana, Yes, that’s a whole different ballgame isn’t it? I hope you’re doing alright now. Keep me posted and thanks for sharing.

  3. I’m sure your ebook, like your blog, has really made a difference for people facing chemotherapy. I like how honest and straightforward the book is. It is also helpful for friends and family members of people with cancer. Sometimes we aren’t sure what to expect either.

    1. Lindsay, Yes, it’s always been my hope that family and friends would find both my blog and my ebook helpful because as you well know, a cancer diagnosis affects the whole family and sometimes friends too. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Your e-book is fantastic. Like you, I was scared. I swore up and down that I would not allow myself to be subjected to chemo.

    And somehow I got through it, but if I had your book, I would’ve felt better, less scared, I think.

  5. This is a great resource for all the women out there who will undergo or are already undergoing chemo. I know someone who is undergoing the procedure and I believe this book would be very helpful to her. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences, and for reaching out to women to help them get past their fear. I agree with what you said that it may not be possible to totally get past the fear (or not feel fear at all) but a little bit of help makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the wonderful post, Nancy!

  6. Nancy, I have read the list of winners of your new book and was so glad to see my name listed. I so much look forward to receiving your book and sharing it with others. Today I met two people and one of them was starting chemo for the first time and we will be sharing a chemo chair together tomorrow. I look forward to share your book with her and passing it on to others that may need it. I will send them to your site for the download version and purchase also. This is the perfect book prior, during and also for folks like myself doing it again. Anytime you start this treatment fear is there and needs to be address. Thank you again for your blog and for your book. You are making a difference in this struggle.

    1. Christine, Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot to me to hear that you’ll be sharing my book with others new, or even not new to chemo. I really appreciate the fact you have interest in reading it, too. It’s not like you’re new to chemo. I hope you find a few useful tips in there. Let me know. Thanks for participating in my giveaway!

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