Red Devil Chemo: How I Managed Side Effects

If you’re concerned about the side effects of Adriamycin (aka The Red Devil) and Cytoxan, you’re not alone. A breast cancer diagnosis is a total punch in the gut and hearing that you need chemo is an additional heart wrenching experience.

When my medical oncologist told me I was going to need aggressive chemotherapy to fight my breast cancer, I tried to absorb as much information as possible about the first two chemo drugs I would be taking. After reading about all of the side effects that came with the Red Devil, I was quite frankly terrified.

I hope that sharing my tips for managing the Red Devil chemo helps you in some way as you prepare for tackling treatment and side effects!

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Before I get into a full rundown of my personal experience with AC chemo, I wanted to provide some information on things that helped treatment go more smoothly for me. Everyone has different experiences with chemo, so you may not have all of the issues that I faced with the Red Devil. But, these are my top tips for managing the side effects of Red Devil chemo.

  • Use numbing cream. I had a chemo port placed in my chest for treatment. My doctor prescribed numbing cream to put over the port before chemo. That way I wouldn’t feel the nurses accessing the port with their needle.
  • Wear a sleeveless shirt with a relaxed neck. I wore a sleeveless shirt to each chemo session so the nurse could easily place the Neulasta device on my arm at the end of treatment. (I wore a cardigan over the sleeveless top so I wouldn’t get chilly.) Additionally, I recommend wearing a V-neck shirt or a top with a relaxed neck as the nurses will pull on the neck of your shirt in order to access the port.
  • Eat early. I did not ever feel like eating after my Red Devil Chemo treatments. Therefore, I recommend eating before you go to treatment so you get something in your system for the day.
  • Chew ice. Ice helps reduce the occurrence of mouth sores. My nurses brought cups of ice to me when they started the AC drip so that I could chew the ice during treatment.
  • Have a driver. There is no way I could have driven myself home after treatment as I was super lethargic. So, I recommend having a friend or family member pick you up to take you home.
  • Keep track of when you take your meds. My memory was really fuzzy throughout the entire six months of chemo. I was on a bunch of medication for nausea and other things, and I often forgot whether I had taken my meds or not. I recommend keeping a notepad and pen next to your bed. That way you can jot down each time you take your medication throughout the day and night.
  • Drink lots of water. I love water and drink tons of it throughout the day. However, during chemo I needed even more. I recommend drinking water as much as you can since it greatly helps with managing side effects of the Red Devil.
  • Communicate with your doctor about everything. Throughout treatment, my doctor stressed that I should feel as few side effects as possible. He wanted to know every little thing that wasn’t working so that I didn’t suffer any more than I had to. So, if your medication or something isn’t working, don’t wait to communicate this with your doctor.
  • Rest. AC Chemo are powerful drugs. Your body will be exhausted. Make sure you clear your schedule around your treatment days and allow yourself time to rest.
  • Pack a chemo bag. Take a bag of items with you to each chemo session. I’ll explain each item I packed later in this post, but it’s handy to keep snacks and other items with you throughout the long treatment process.

My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast in September of 2018, just a few months after having my second baby. My tumor was classified as Grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma, estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor positive, and HER2 negative. It was small, but the cancer was growing rapidly.

red chair in chemo room

I had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction with tissue expanders a few weeks after my initial diagnosis, which is when my surgeon discovered the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. Ugh not what you want to hear after a massive surgery!

Preparing for Aggressive Chemotherapy

I first met my medical oncologist about a week after the bilateral mastectomy. He explained that I had a really aggressive cancer that wanted to both spread and come back.

So, we were going to have to fight it aggressively. My chemo treatment plan consisted of four rounds of the chemotherapy drugs Adriamycin and Cytoxan followed by twelve weeks of another drug called Taxol. Since I was going to be receiving some heavy duty infusions, my oncologist wanted my breast surgeon to insert a chemo port into my chest.

Surgery for Chemo Port

About a week before my chemo was scheduled to start, I went in for an outpatient procedure to have my port placed. This was a really easy surgery with basically no recovery time. The chemo port was supposed to make the process of getting the chemo into my body much easier.

As much as I felt it was an eye sore, I was grateful that the port made the chemo process run more smoothly. I despise getting IV’s in my arm, and the chemo port completely prevented the need for that each time I went in for an infusion.

My port was located on my chest above my right breast. I also had a small scar on my neck where the port ended. This port stayed in place through AC chemo and Taxol. My plastic surgeon ultimately removed it during my breast reconstruction, which was about a year after I finished chemotherapy.

Terrified of Chemo

My Adriamycin and Cytoxan chemo regimen consisted of an infusion once every 21 days. I would do this four times, and then switch to Taxol infusions once a week. Adriamycin (also known as The Red Devil) is the tough chemo that people hear about.

It causes complete hair loss, excessive nausea, fatigue….you name it. I was not looking forward to it, and I knew I had a long winter ahead of me. My medical oncology nurse came up with a plan that included a spreadsheet (which I loved her for) for taking the nausea medication.

I had two different types of nausea medication that I was supposed to rotate between every few hours. The nurse told me to do this for the first few days when nausea is at its worst. She also prescribed a numbing cream to place on my port prior to each infusion.

This is used so that you don’t feel the needle poke your port. I want to say that a majority of the people I talked to did not use the numbing cream because they said the poke just felt like a shot. I, on the other hand, used the cream religiously and caked a ton of it on my port each time. My goal was to feel nothing, and it worked really well!

Chemo Bag Items

A really great friend of mine packed a chemo bag for me to take to my infusions since I planned to be in the infusion center for a long time. The packed chemo bag included essentials like:

  • lotion
  • hand sanitizing wipes
  • chapstick
  • magazines
  • blanket
  • snacks
  • water bottle

I carried these items in a backpack because it was easier to haul places. The infusion center had snacks available, but I was really particular about what I would eat. White Cheddar Ritz Crackers were my go-to snack at every infusion. They may not be the healthiest things to eat, but they were the only things that consistently seemed appetizing to me.

What to Wear to Chemo

Since the nurses needed to access my arm to place the Neulasta OnPro device, I had to also pay attention to what I wore to my infusions. I found that a cardigan over a sleeveless shirt worked best. This way I could pull off the cardigan when I needed to; yet, stay covered and warm with the cardigan throughout the chemo process.

If your chemo port is on your chest, I also recommend wearing a shirt that has a relaxed neck or a v-neck so that it’s not in the way of the IV as you sit in the chemo chair. The photo below was taken at my very last chemo session when I got to ring the bell! You can see my comfy cardigan that was easy to remove for the Neulasta device. The hair in the photo isn’t my own but that of my favorite wig.

woman wearing wig and hat near chemo sign
Last Day of Chemo!

I bought a ridiculously priced wig after I was diagnosed that I literally wore twice. The wig pictured above wasn’t expensive at all, and it was really comfortable to wear on my sensitive head. This is the wig I wore through treatment. (Amazon Affiliate link)

The wig comes super long, but I cut it myself to better match the length of my pre-chemo hair. The wig doesn’t have hair on the top, just on the sides and back. So, you obviously need to wear a hat with it. This is the hat in my picture, but you can wear any hat that you own with the wig. (Amazon Affiliate Link)

First Time with the Red Devil

I felt pretty good going into my first chemo session. I was anxious about how I would react to the medications, but I was ready to get round 1 over with. My two nurses were both young and bubbly. One of them had a baby who was the same age as my younger daughter so we bonded over that.

woman sitting in chair at chemo infusion center
Gearing up for my first chemo!

My infusion chair was comfortable enough, and it reclined. It also had a side table and a TV attached to it. There was a curtain beside the chair that I could pull closed for privacy. I think I was one of the only patients who closed my curtain, but I liked feeling like I was in a room rather than out in the open.

How is it administered?

My AC chemo experience consisted of nurses hooking up an IV to the chemo port on my chest. They tape it on so the IV is secure enough for you to move freely.

What does it look like?

The nurses then change out the bags of fluid on the IV machine in order to put the pre-meds and chemo into your body. I had several different pre-meds at each chemo treatment, including an antacid and a steroid. The actual bag of Adriamycin and Cytoxan is red in color and is the reason for the nickname The Red Devil.

AC Chemo Experience

Shortly after the nurse hooked me up to the IV on that first day, I realized I was starving. I hadn’t been able to eat much that morning because of nerves. The nurses told me to go ahead and eat early because I probably wouldn’t feel like it afterward. This turned out to be great advice!

My husband went to the cafeteria to grab Subway. I was able to get up and walk around with the IV machine if I needed to use the restroom or anything. (I remember wondering if that was allowed before going in for my first treatment.)

pink stethoscope and pills with breast cancer ribbon

When it was time for the Adriamycin and Cytoxan, my nurse brought a cup of ice. I chewed on the ice because keeping your mouth cold is supposed to reduce mouth sores, which are a common chemo side effect.

Once I had finished with this infusion, the nurse attached the Neulasta Onpro device to my arm and went over all of my instructions for my medication. Overall, I think I was there for about four hours. My husband was with me the whole time and drove us home when it was over. I could not have driven myself because the nausea meds made me loopy/drowsy, so make sure you have a driver.

AC Chemo Side Effects

I felt okay until about an hour after getting home. After that, I went to bed and slept until my husband woke me up to eat dinner later that night. I had zero appetite, and I felt like if I moved (even a tiny bit) I was going to vomit. So, I ended up not eating and just mostly slept that first day.

Worst Days for Nausea

Every few hours throughout the night, I would wake up to take my nausea medicine. I recommend either putting someone else in charge of this or keeping a notepad and pen beside your bed to document when you take your pills.

I was often confused about which pill I had swallowed and what time I had taken it. In the moment, I always felt like I would remember, but I never did. The next day I still didn’t have an appetite, and I realized that I couldn’t keep down any food. I was able to drink water, but even one bite of a banana came right back up.

coffee with text overlay Adjuvant Chemotherapy: Adriamycin & Cytoxan

I tried to eat a few more times throughout the second day, but I was so nauseous that I couldn’t stomach anything. So, I called my oncology nurse, and she prescribed a different nausea medicine to help. It worked much better with the nausea, and I never got sick again after taking it.

I was pretty much in my bed for a full 5 days; though, as these were the worst days for me with each round of AC chemo. Even though the nausea went away, I had no energy and just wanted to sleep. I tried to get up and visit with my family as much as possible, but I could only stay up for about an hour before needing another nap.

Neulasta and Bone Pain

Neulasta is the medicine that helps your body fight infection since chemo causes your white blood cells count to plummet. I don’t think every chemo patient uses the Neulasta because my doctor debated for a while about whether or not I would benefit from it.

He ultimately decided that I should receive the medicine after each Red Devil chemo session. So, at the end of the AC chemo, the infusion nurse would attach the Neulasta OnPro injector onto my arm. The device would automatically give me an injection the day after chemo.

This way I didn’t have to drive back to the doctor, and I could get the medicine at home. Neulasta can cause bone and joint pain, which some allergy medicines are supposed to help with. You can ask your doctor about recommendations if you suffer from joint pain. I did get flu-like body aches from the Neulasta after the first round of AC chemo.

Chemo Hair Loss

After the first week, I was mostly back to normal. I noticed my hair started itching and hurting my head. It felt similar to taking down your hair after wearing it in a tight ponytail. It got so annoying that I ended up shaving my head about two weeks after my first infusion.

I knew my hair was ultimately going to fall off anyway. By shaving it myself, I was able to gain some type of control over the situation and relieve the itching sensations. This was really emotional for me, but I felt so much better after it was done!

I kept up with monthly pictures of my hair growing out after chemo if you want to check them out in that article. It was a really slow process, but the hair growth improved each month.

Adriamycin and Cytoxan: Rounds 2-4

The first round of AC chemo was the worst for me. Once the nurse changed my nausea medicine, I didn’t get sick to my stomach any more. I did get sleepier DURING the chemo sessions; though, and I just kind of laid there with the TV on.

Looking at my phone or at a magazine made me feel nauseous…kind of like reading in the car. I also didn’t really want food while I was there. If I did eat, it had to be something bland like french fries or crackers, but that was about it.

chemo infusion center

After each session, I continued to mostly sleep for the first 5-7 days. I also never really remembered this first week after an infusion. I watched TV shows and had conversations with people that I would have absolutely no recollection of the next day. A lot of that may have been due to the nausea medicine I was taking and not the actual chemo though.

More Side Effects of AC Chemo Treatments

I included my own side effects from chemotherapy treatment above. The following list contains potential side effects you may experience during and after your chemotherapy sessions.

  • Chemo brain
  • low blood counts
  • loss of appetite
  • hair loss
  • fatigue
  • bone pain
  • dry eyes
  • nausea

Final Thoughts on Surviving The Red Devil Chemo

Overall, Adriamycin and Cytoxan were the hardest things that I have ever been through. It was nice that I had 21 days between each round so that I could recover and enjoy a couple weeks of normalcy.

But, once AC chemo is over, you feel so much better! You really realize that you are stronger than you think you are and that you can handle anything, especially with a great support system!

My husband created a book of inspirational quotes for me to refer to anytime I was feeling down. For some extra motivation (or a good laugh), you can check some of my favorite positive breast cancer quotes in this post.

confetti with text overlay Tips for Conquering Side Effects of AC Chemo

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  1. Invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 2, stage 3…but a nasty, and aggressive form called micropapillary. I am about to start AC (every two weeks x 4) then Taxol (every two weeks x 4), and I intend to kick some cancer butt! Thank you so much for your blog, this is exactly what I needed! My questions are about icing hands and feet to prevent neuropathy:
    Anyone out there with info on using ice mitts/booties?
    Are they useful for AC or just Taxol?
    When do I put them on, 5 minutes before infusion?
    When to take them off?

    I’ve bought two sets, will take them in a cooler with another ice pack, currently in the deep freezer, chillin’!

    1. Hi Lorinne,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. It sounds like you have a really positive attitude and are fully prepared to conquer treatment. To answer your questions, I did not use ice mitts or booties during chemo, but they seem like a really great idea. Maybe another reader with experience will chime in to let you know her thoughts.

      Personally, I only iced during Taxol and not during AC since Taxol is the one that can cause neuropathy. My chemo nurses in the infusion center were really great about telling me when to apply the ice. I think they have a lot of experience with this. I did not use the ice when the premeds or postmeds (Benadryl, Pepcid, etc.) were in the IV. I ONLY used it when the Taxol was running through the IV. Once it was completed, I removed the ice. Also, it’s obviously really cold (ha!) and uncomfortable, so I had to take breaks from the ice frequently. I couldn’t bare to leave it on continuously. Hope that helps, and I wish you all the best as you complete treatment!

      1. Hi Lorrine! I have triple negative breast cancer and I’m starting the AC treatment tomorrow. One day on, one week off. I had to go through an aggressive form of lung cancer before this. I went through chemo and radiation for that. I used the booties and mittens and didn’t find they were helpful for me. Hopefully, they’ll work for you. I will say that I intend to try them again when I am on the Taxol. It can’t hurt! Shari, thanks so much for starting this page! It is very helpful for people to exchange information on this really difficult journey. My sister sent me the link and I’m thrilled that she did! For someone who is going through the AC tomorrow it really helped with my anxiety, and provided excellent information. I’m still worried, but not as much. Everyone who has posted is a fearless warrior!

        1. Hi Marci,

          Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad you are finding the information helpful! It sounds like you are completing an aggressive AC treatment plan. Hopefully your side effects have been easy to manage and you’re feeling well. I appreciate you taking the time to provide your experience with the booties and mittens, and I know other readers are too. Thanks again for sharing, and I wish you all the best in your journey.

      2. Hello Shari – Thank you so much for sharing your experience and starting this discussion. I just finished 12 weeks of Taxol/Carbo and then 8 weeks with bi-weekly Adriamycin/Taxol, along with Immuotherapy every 3 weeks, for my Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I really had no issues with TC and did use ice packs on my hands and feet. I also used the ice they gave me as the ice packs seemed to melt fast. I have no side effects of Neuropathy. I did have an issue of weight loss so when I started AC I think the dosage was too high. My 2nd and 3rd treatments were tough but my 1st and 4th were okay. By the 4th, they adjusted the dosage so I was much better. My doctor told me after the 3rd treatment I was good without the 4th but in my mind I had to finish and happy I did! I finished all treatment on 5/10/23 and feel like myself again. I have a lumpectomy next month and then radiation. Warm wishes to Lorinne and Marci in your journey.

        1. Hi Bridget,

          Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m so happy to hear that you finished your treatment!! You must feel so relieved and happy! I wish you all the best with your upcoming lumpectomy and radiation.

  2. Hi Sheri,

    Thank you for the amazing information. I have TNBC Stage 3 with the BRCA 1 gene mutation. I’m doing 12 weekly treatments of T/C with Keytruda every 3 weeks. Then I start A/C with Keytruda every 3 weeks for 4 cycles. I’ll have a bilateral mastectomy and my ovaries will need to come out after all of the BC treatments are over. I have a couple questions I hope you can answer.

    What was the nausea medication prescribed that worked for you?

    Did you have any additional radiation, chemo after your surgery?

    1. Hi Maureen,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It sounds like you and your doctors have a great treatment plan in place. I’m so sorry, but I can’t remember the nausea medication that I used. Your doctor should prescribe some for you, and don’t hesitate to call them if it’s not working as well as you like. To answer your second question, I completed several treatments after surgery. My bilateral mastectomy was the very first step in my plan. After that surgery, I did AC chemo followed by Taxol. After chemo, I had 6 weeks of radiation followed by my breast tissue expander exchange surgery. Then, I had my ovaries removed. Let me know if you have any additional questions. And good luck to you as you complete your treatment!

      1. Thanks for sharing your story. I start the Red Devil tomorrow. The comments have helped with the anxiety of starting this drug. Everyone seems to have same nausea and fatigue issues. Thank you, everyone for sharing💕
        I was diagnosed with triple negative, invasive ductile, stage 1b breast cancer in October 2022, started chemo in December 2022. Have finished the weekly treatments with mild side effects.

        1. Hi Mary,

          I’m happy to hear you find the comments helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your story as well. I wish you all the best as you complete AC chemo. Hang in there!

  3. Hi Shari,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative in June this year, so far I’ve completed my 12 rounds of Taxol & one of AC. I was lucky to have no real side effects with Taxol, but am finding the changes to my taste buds particularly challenging with AC. Hopefully they will start to regenerate soon after I finish AC in November.

    1. Hi Eloise,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with AC chemo. If my memory is correct, I think my taste buds and appetite improved fairly quickly after finishing chemo. Hopefully you experience the same as it can be frustrating when you aren’t able to enjoy foods. I wish you all the best as you complete treatment. You’re almost there! Take care!

    2. Hi Eloise, I have the same cancer, stage & treatment as you. I’m finished my 9th round of weekly T/C and will begin my A/C Jan 24. I’m wondering if you are also getting Ketruda with yours? I get this every 3 weeks on day 1 of my weekly Taxol/Carbo regimens and will receive it each time with the A/C. How did your A/C go? What nausea medications did you find worked with the A/C?

  4. Really appreciate this blog and all the comments. I just finished 12 weekly doses of Taxol / Carboplatin. I’ve been able to still work about 27 hours a week. I tolerated Taxol/Carbo well until that last 2 weeks where I am extremely fatigued, started getting neuropathy, and Taxol rash burn on my hands and feet (hand foot syndrome).

    Doctor now wants to start 4 rounds of AC every 3 weeks. I’m really concerned about the side effects of AC. I live alone with limited daily help and need to work at least part time. I have help on the day of treatment and someone driving me to/from treatment. Doctor said AC doesn’t have rash/burn like Taxol. Given that I’m so run down from Taxol/Carbo, I’m just scared that I won’t be able to handle AC, the side effects, and still managing my life. You all did it! And that’s encouraging.

    1. Hi Karen,

      Chemo treatment is so overwhelming, especially when you are trying to work and manage life at the same time. I’m happy to hear you tolerated Taxol for the most part. Hopefully, your experience with AC chemo will be an easy one. Although AC was rough for me, I think a lot of patients only feel side effects for the first day or two. It sounds like you are a very strong person with a positive mindset, so I’m sure that will help to carry you through your 4 treatments. Thanks so much for sharing, and I wish you all the best!

    2. Hi Karen. I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in January 2022. I had no problems with the first, third and fourth doses of AC. I really felt sick after the 2nd round. When the doctor changed one of my anti-nausea drugs I did so much better. Tired for 4 or 5 days and then fine. You will do great. This is just a small blip in a long life you have ahead of you.

  5. I was on ACT also and I would go for the Neulasta shot the day after treatment. They had me take Clartin for several days after the shot and I did not experience the bone pain associated with Neulasta. If anyone experiences bone pain maybe talk to your Dr. about this and hopefully it will work for you.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m sure other readers will greatly appreciate your tips! Hope you are doing well!

  6. Hi y’all! I was diagnosed with 2 different types of breast cancer on March 2nd 2022, got my port 2.5 weeks later, and l was started on Taxol/Carboplatin chemo every week since March 30th. Today I was started on AC(Red devil), and l’m worried about it affecting my heart, and bones, nausea…😰. I didn’t have much nausea the 1st 3 months on Taxol, so l’m praying that l will get through this with flying colors 🙌🙏😂😂! I made sure to stop by the pharmacy to get a refill on my 2 nausea meds though just in case! The only side effects l got from Taxol/Carbo was neuropathy in my legs and feet, and some tingling in my fingers, fatigue, some dizziness and occasional heartburn. I made sure to drink a protein drink in the morning, and continue to add protein rich foods throughout the day to keep up with healing.I have a fear of throwing up, so I’m going to try to keep on top of the nausea with the 2 meds that my Dr. prescribed for me. I usually drink 75-90 ounces of water a day, but from what others are saying, l might need to increase that to more.

    Have any of you taken Vit B 12 or Folic Acid to increase your WBC?

    1. I,too, am taking the Red Devil. Every 3weeks, for 4 sessions. The first one was fine, but after the second one I was super tired, naucious, diarrhea and just cannot move. I looked down and my iwatch said my beats per minute were 122, resting. My normal has always has been 62-65. When my BP was checked it is always very low, 55/32. The highest it’s been this week is 90/82. I’ve been back 3days in a row for IV fluids and I still have low BP, no appetite, and feel like hell! Do you or anyone else have any ideas to get my energy back?

  7. This is website is so helpful, thank you for sharing. Today i had a first round of AC, so i know what to expect in the coming days.
    3 more to go then onto Taxol. I am also 21 weeks pregnant which makes this journey even more scary for me and the baby. I would love to hear from anyone about their journey if they have had the chemo regime, being pregnant.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Marie,

      I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, especially since you are currently pregnant. Since I went through treatment after I had delivered my baby, I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help here. Hopefully another reader will be able to provide some feedback for you. I wish you and your baby all the best as you complete treatment!

    2. Hi there,

      I just started 12 weeks of taxol yesterday and then will do 4 rounds of AC. I am not pregnant but I did find out at 35 weeks and was induced at 37 weeks. Now taking care of a newborn.

  8. Hi, I’m 63 and am going thru the 4 weeks of AC. Just going into 1 and half weeks after my first treatment . It was rough, I was in bed for 4 days with a major headache. I am hoping the 2nd treatment goes better. But the bottom line is we have to go thru this to get better.. I hope everyone has a support system. Thank you for your post. It helps to know I’m not the only one.

    1. Hi Beth,

      I’m so sorry to hear you are experiencing such strong side effects from AC chemo. I am sure it’s a relief that you’re halfway through your treatment. I agree that a strong support system is key. I wish you all the best as you complete your chemotherapy. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

  9. Gah I really needed to read all of these comments – thank you all so much!

    I am about to begin the same regimen many of you have already done or are currently doing…AC every other week for 4 rounds and Taxol weekly for 12 weeks.

    For me, the extreme but rare possible side effects of the AC has made me so nervous. Did you all have to have an ECHO prior? I feel like I can deal with nausea and hair loss, but I’m terrified of long term heart issues or leukemia.

    Did you all feel scared about this things? How did you get past it? I just keep telling myself as a 46 years old mom of two girls I will do whatever I need to make sure this cancer is gone and doesn’t come back. But I also don’t want to die from the treatment! I’m terrified. Your stories have helped me see how common this protocol is. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes to all!

    1. Hey Jenny,

      Aren’t the reader comments so helpful?!?! To answer your questions, I remember being terrified when my doctor mentioned leukemia and heart failure. But I originally thought he meant it happened DURING chemo treatment. Once he clarified that the threat is during the first five years POST treatment, I felt like I could push it to the side and focus on my current treatment. I’m three years out from my diagnosis, and heart failure and leukemia do pop into my head occasionally. I had an ECHO prior to starting chemo, and I had another one last year after having random heart palpitations. Both were completely normal. My doctor also named Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts as an example….she had leukemia after breast cancer treatment but seems to be doing well now. Just try to focus one day at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with all of the what ifs…although I know that’s easier said than done. Maybe another reader will chime in with some more meaningful advice as well. I wish you all the best in your treatment and recovery!

    2. Hi Jenny,
      I just finished they same treatment plan you are about to start. I’ve been done for a few weeks. I did not have much nausea. I was given steroids the day of chemo( pre meds) and then took them (in pill form)for the following 3 days after each AC treatment. I felt great! I had treatments on Mondays, and I usually had a down day the following Sat. I felt mostly tired and and mild nausea. The few times I did I immediately took the anti nausea meds and they worked with in a 10-30 mins. I also had a Neulasta shot the day after each AC treatment. Starting the day before the shot and continuing for 5 days. I never had ANY pain from the Neulasta shots. Taxol was a much easier treatment. I didn’t experience any nausea! The only thing I can say for me personally , I felt the worst after treatments ended. I felt so tired after taxol I think its because i am no longer on the steroids. I am about to have surgery in a week. I am very luck to live in a town with an MD Anderson Cancer Center. I hope this helps you feel more at ease. Best wishes!!!!

    3. Hi Jenny, I’m fixing to have 4 doses of Red Devil and 12 weekly doses of taxol. Im terrified of the unknown too! When I read ur post it made me feel better that there are others going thru same emotions as me!

        1. Grateful to read other people going through the same treatments as me and doing ok. Makes me realize I am not alone and we are all here for each other. 4 aggressive treatments and then 12 weeks Taxol. I am staying positive and counting down that 2 treatments are done. Difficult part for me is feeling isolated from kids, grandchildren and friends since we are still in pandemic and no one can come to visit. I am not allowed to go in stores or houses either. Grateful for my husband and FaceTime. First AC chemo I was nauseated but second treatment oncologist added a bag of saline fluids first and no side effects. I am always weaker and more tired 7-14 after treatment but have learned to manage that week well. I listen to my body and rest and read when I need to slow down. I only found the mass in my breast in January and was immediately seen, had biopsy, pet scan, surgeon oncologist (hopefully minimally invasive after chemo), met oncologist, had heart muga scan and already had two AC treatments. Tumour shrunk a lot after just first treatment. I did not realize how many people are on the same protocol as me. Comfort in knowing this. Thank you all for your courage to describe your side effects, good days and not so good days.

    4. I’m 70 and have port scheduled to be placed tomorrow with AC to start Monday. Really high anxiety for both things the port and treatment. I did have a Echo and dr got results. He told me in 25 years he’s only had 3 patients that developed heart problems. It was rare and less than 1%. We can do it!!!
      We GOT this!!!

      1. I’m 51 years old and after only 2 AC chemo treatments I have heart damage. The day after my second treatment I had fullness and tightness from from my waist to my chin for 5 days along with an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and low heart rate. My oncologist ordered an echo stat and my ejection fraction (heart function) has dropped from 68% to 51% which puts me at low heart function. All thanks to Adriamycin so it does happen during treatment. Now it’s time for my new cardio-oncologist and my oncologist to determine next steps.

        1. oh no Jennifer. I’m so sorry that has happened to you. I’m wishing you well wishes and all is good now . I start my A/C Tuesday the 22nd . I just finished my taxial and corbo now on to this I hope all goes good I’m worried.

  10. Shari – thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m starting AC in a couple weeks (4 rounds every 2 weeks) followed by T for 12 weeks. I read both your posts on these treatments and it made me feel relieved about chemo for the first time since hearing “you have breast cancer”.

    1. Hi Kate,

      I’m so sorry to hear that you will be going through chemo soon. I know it’s a lot to take in at first, but you will get through this. I didn’t think the 12 weeks of Taxol were too bad, and a lot of readers have commented that they did really well with AC. I wish you all the best the next few months as you receive treatment. You may find that chemo is kind of a relief too since you are actively doing something to kill the cancer cells. Good luck through chemo, and just keep looking forward to summer and ringing the bell!

    2. Me too, first I have a complete axillary dissection with immediate lymphatic reconstruction, then the red devil for 4 treatments and taxol for 12. I’m pretty terrified , too.

  11. I am just over halfway finished with my taxol treatments after 4 AC treatments. The nurses at chemo told me to take Claritin for 4-5 days after chemo to help with the bone pain. They said, “We don’t know why it works, but it does.” I was blessed to not have serious side effects during AC treatment except fatigue, which was minimal. I was super happy to be told I wouldn’t have to wear the Neulasta patch during round 2 (that was the worst part for me). Blessings to all who are walking this path! You aren’t alone!

    1. Hi Lucinda,

      Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I used the Neulasta patch after each AC treatment, and it definitely added to the chemo side effects. I’m so happy to hear that your only issue was fatigue. You must feel so grateful to be nearing the end of your treatment. Keep up the positive attitude, and I wish you all the best in your recovery!

  12. Hi, Ladies, I’m so sorry to hear you have all gone through this. I had a Bilateral mastectomy March 18 with reconstruction surgery . Tissue expanders. I’m 66 and will be receiving AC every 2 weeks for 4 treatments then Taxol. It sounds like most of you are younger. I am so worried about vomiting. They are giving me Neulasta and they say nausea medicine all I know is I hope it works. I am alone so I have to confron5 this by myself. It is so scary. I am in Florida where it will be extremely hot this summer. Do you have any suggestions to make it easier since I’m by myself? I also heard that it’s good to use Biotene mouthwash to keep from getting a sore mouth. Anyone know if this is true or good enough? I also heard taking Claritin helps with aches bones. I’m so scared at my age. Please let me know suggestions.

    1. Hey Lisa,

      Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Going through treatment alone can be so scary, but I think you will be completely fine if you prepare. I would buy a bunch of bland foods that you can prepare for yourself quickly and easily. We all crave different things, but I liked crackers, grilled cheese, and Mexican rice takeout. Drink LOTS of water. Everyone told me that, and I thought I was drinking a ton…but I got a UTI after treatment #1 so I started drinking even more. My other piece of advice is to come up with a way to manage your pain pills. Write down each time you take a pill because you may have a hard time remembering. I did use the mouthwash and allergy meds you mentioned with my doctor’s knowledge. I think you start taking the allergy pill a couple days before chemo and until your Neulasta comes off. Check with your doctor to make sure that’s okay for you though. If you can’t keep anything down and can’t manage the vomiting, call your nurse. Don’t wait. They will help manage your discomfort. I don’t think vomiting is common though. My medical team seemed shocked that I was so sick, so you may be fine. You can do this! I had family around to take care of my kids while I went through treatment, but for the most part I just laid in bed by myself. Take care and feel free to reach out if you need anything!

    2. Hi Lisa…I’m in my late 60’s and just completed Adriamycin-Cytoxan and Taxol. I had NO vomiting and NO mouth sores BUT I had a terrible aversion to most foods (lost a lot of weight). A life saver for me was the blandest of bland foods and a drink by Chobani that was yogurt fortified with protein and other goodies. I would have wasted away to nothing without the liquid yogurt drink. I also found sliced turkey, cheese plus mayonnaise on toast palatable as well as scrambled eggs. I hope you can order foods from a local grocery store or Costco or even Amazon WholeFoods(?)
      My chemo facility made us give our dates of birth as identifiers after we gave our names. Many of the women were in their 70’s! You’ll probably run into some fellow AC-T sufferers who can share their story with you and give some pointers. We’re all different though…a seat-mate of mine in chemo was in her 40’s, had copious vomiting but ate like a horse and actually gained weight.
      I also live in Florida but I dodged the summer since my chemo is finished. I did buy 4 knit surgical caps on Etsy which were loose-fitting and easier to wash than cotton (cooler too, I think).
      I also definitely recommend that you stock up on food and bottled water. There will be days that you feel ‘zombie-fied’ and you should give yourself permission to veg out. I hope all goes well for you…

    3. Hi Lisa.
      Using any mouth wash without alcohol in it is best . One nurse said mix salt , baking soda and warm water works well to. The main thing is keep it clean I only got sores with first round but they were so bad I could not even swallow a pill. The sites were in my throat as well. They usually give a nausea med and it works really well but you can only take like every 8 hours. If that is not enough the nurse said they can give you a second pill to use in between so call the first day if you are having significant nausea. Don’t wait. The pain from the shot you get the next day has been horrible. I think it is because I also have Fibromyalgia. My hospital does not use Newlasta ?? (The one the attach to your arm that automatically gives the shot the next day). The first round I had to give myself a shot in my belly for 5 days . They really don’t hurt but the bone and joint, and muscle pain was really bad so they changed me to one I go back for the nurse to give me the day after chemo. Still causes significant pain but doctor adjusted pain meds so tolerable now. I also live alone so I can relate to your being worried. I order groceries in and just plan on staying in bed for about a week after each treatment. I get really tired and the pain from the shot to build up your immunity since the chemo wipes it out but have not had nausea. I have been able to get up to get food and go to restroom so I’m ok on my own. I do have a friend the takes and drops me off for appointments an picks me up to take me home but u could use Uber if need be. I have had Amit is shortness of breath which they still do not know what is causing it. That is why I need ride to treatments. You will get through this. I believe in God and Hehas been by my side through our which makes the process easier as well. I hope you know Him as well. I’m in California but isle you need a shoulder to lean on I’m here for you.

    4. I am on treatment 2 get some desert essence oil pulling rinse for mouth sores, make sure to take the zofran as directed every 8 hours. Make sure to have protein to stay strong.
      Drink water to flush the medicine from your system. Try and exercise a little.
      Stay strong

    5. Hi guys
      I have been diagnosed with breast cancer end of June this year.Hoe do you manage to sleep through the day after chemo.I wish I could sleep but I’m battling.I have all the side effects from nausea and brain fog body aches migraines and also very cold hands and feet but my scalp feels like its on fire any tips to alleviate this.All the best to all you brave women

      1. Hey Beatrix,

        I’m so sorry to hear about all the side effects you are experiencing with AC chemo. My nausea medicine kept me pretty groggy and sleepy, so I didn’t really have any issues sleeping. Have you lost your hair yet? The only time I remember feeling scalp discomfort was right before I lost my hair. Maybe another reader can relate to your side effects and respond with better information than me. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but I wish you all the best as you complete your treatment!

    6. Hi Lisa, just looking at the date of your post. If you don’t mind can you let me know how you handled the hair loss and each chemo treatment? Just had my second AC and been down since the day after. First wasn’t as bad.
      Thanks for any input!

    7. Biotene is great on 10 th treatment of Taxol no sores 2 more then 4 rounds of red devil hair is gone can’t wait till the end at least it’s in sight!

  13. Robert;
    My wife will be starting AC treatment this Tuesday. I feel she is finally at the right intersection of being positive but understanding how badly this is going to suck. I told her to leave it to me to dig into the internet and find what works and doesn’t. Not because she can’t but because I can.. And this is far and away the best site I’ve found. Just stories. I just want to be as prepared as I can so I can not just be there for her, but to actively anticipate what she is going to need…

    I have ordered special soft tooth brushes, and special tooth paste recommended on another site. and got some highly rated mouth wash made by a survivor and her oncologist. Cooler with ice and her favorite drinks and water and snacks. New no touch thermometer. Some body creams specifically made for chemo patients.. The info here such as the brain fog and remembering when and IF you took medicine is very helpful. Now I know not to leave it to her, but I will have to take an active roll in making sure she stays ahead of the pain and the nausea.. If she misses a dose, I don’t want her to suffer any more than she already will.

    Mostly I’m scared and I am standing on the edge of cliff not knowing what this jump is going to be. But she is strong and I am strong. We love each other dearly and she found her cancer saying.. “It is not this day… This day we fight! ” Yes we are Lord of the Rings geeks through and through…

    Thank you for this.. I really needed it…

    1. Hi Robert,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your wife’s diagnosis. AC chemo will be tough, but it sounds like she has a great support system in you! I’m so glad to hear that you found my blog and the comments helpful. Chemo can cause different side effects for each individual, but it’s so nice to get prepared just in case. As you mentioned, I highly recommend monitoring the medication. The brain fog that chemo causes is real, and it can get really, really frustrating. Hopefully you guys will be able to be patient with it because it does get better! Stay strong for each other and keep up the positive thoughts! Best wishes to you and your wife!

      1. Just curious, when would you say the chemo fog starts? Not thinking clearly really scares me. Is it forgetfulness? How would you describe it?

        1. Hi Lucy,

          For me, the chemo fog started the day after my first AC treatment. I will say that I used the Neulasta patch AND nausea medication, which more than likely added to the brain fog. I would describe it as forgetfulness-as in the word you are trying to use just escapes you. I also had issues focusing on a task- as in walking into a room to grab something and forgetting what I went in the room to get. My mom tells me this is something common with aging anyway though. Ha! You should still be able to carry out your normal day-to-day functions, so try not to let it scare you. Also, not to alarm you, but MY chemo fog lasted for a few months after chemo ended. It gradually got better, and then I felt normal again. I’m not telling you that to freak you out, but I just don’t want you to get worried if it doesn’t instantly go away. Also, these are just examples of my personal experiences with chemo. You could have zero brain fog and feel completely fine! Thanks so much for reaching out, and I wish you all the best through your treatment.

  14. Hi,
    I just finished my 4 sessions of a&c! Thanks god really… and now starting 12 sessions of taxol weekly. May I ask how was your experience with taxol? I heard it can numb your fingers?

    1. Hi Maca,

      Thanks so much for reaching out. Congratulations to you on finishing AC chemo! What a relief! I found Taxol to be much more manageable, so hopefully you won’t have any problems with it. I did not experience numbing of my fingers, but I used ice packets during chemo to prevent neuropathy. You can read more about my Taxol experience here if you are interested: Taxol Side Effects. Best wishes to you as you complete your treatment!

    2. Hi there! I’m in the middle of my weekly taxol (though i take it with carboplatinum every 2 weeks) and I’ll only start red devil and ciclophosphamide (?) in october. My taxol experience has been rather soft. They always give me pre medication before treatments. Weeks of carboplatinum are always worse: coughs, arm pain (i don’t have a port yet and don’t know if i will), fatigue and today my first nausea (but a very mild one). So far, to me, regarding taxol, the worst is the general ill being you feel and that’s cumulative. But it’s totally managable. I’m more worried about the red devil now, since there’s only one treatment with carboplatinum left. But hang in there, it will get better and there’s no harm in being prepared for everything!

  15. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in January 2021. I have had my port placed and completed round two of AC. On my way to two more and then 12 weeks of Taxol, then surgery. I have been fortunate to not have any nausea. Mouth gets sore and raw but no ulcers (chewing on ice helps). The hardest part for me is “chemo brain”. I feel so foggy and disoriented from Day 3-6. I shaved my head down to 1/4 inch right before AC round 2 as my hair started to fall out and for me it was better to lose little pieces than 4-6 inch pieces. Love finding this blog, it helps to know that I am not alone in this fight. God blesses all of you! Stay strong. WE GOT THIS!!!

    1. Hey Diane,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. It sounds like your chemo treatment is going really well for you, which is a huge relief I’m sure! The chemo brain is one of the last side effects to go away (at least it was for me), so try to stay patient with yourself. It gradually gets better! I will keep you in my prayers!

    2. Diane
      I hope you get this message. Its hard to find other people with Triple Negative. I was diagnosed March 2022. I did Taxol/Carboplatin 12 weeks and I start A/C next week. Tumor shrunk from a 4.5 to a 1.2 I would love to hear an update from you. Had no problem with Taxol I wore the ice gloves and socks. Scared to death about the long term side effects of this A/C but I have to focus on beating this first.

      1. Hi! I’m Fighting a triple negative at the moment, same chemo protocol you got. I just did my 3rd carboplatium and taxol and I’ll change to red devil and the other one mid October 🙂 my treatment is going amazing. My tumor had 5,4 cm (it was visible) and now doctors can’t feel it anymore. My last PET scan showed no signs of cancer anywhere, even said tumor came up as an inflammation to be monitored. So i pray this gives you hope and strenght to endure all the chemo!

        1. Hi Francisca,
          I’m in the same boat as you with triple negative diagnosis stage 2 large tumor but after 11 weeks of Carbo/Taxol (my treatment was weekly lower dose) the tumor is not detectable on MRI. Im thinking of declining ANdriamycin + Cytoxan treatment. Is this something that came up in your discussions with you onc? Given the positive response did they offer to change up your treatment plan. I really do not want to do the AC.

          1. Hi Erica, sorry i only saw this now! Not having the last four rounds of Red Devil was unthinkable for my doctor, because the chemo works as whole and the full thing makes the chances for a cancer comeback way lower. Anyway I did 2 red devil treatments already at this point and i can honestly say: worst 4 weeks of my life. I’m going back to another session in 3 days and i feel like crying!
            Round 1 side effects: 5 days with nausea, severe bone and muscle pain (caused by the immune boosting shots i had to give myself for 7 days), a fatigue that would manifest itself in things like walking from the bed to couch. Adding to everything else i already had
            Round 2: no nausea because the doctor got me a better medication. But on day 6 after infusion i started having really high fevers and diarrhea. I’m also having these really big, painful blisters under my arm and “down there”. Since i had to go to the emergency due to the fever (40ºc), i told them about the rest and now i’m taking antibiotcs and using a cream for the blisters. Thankfully the fever and diarrhea are gone now. The fatigue level for this round is: i need to rest after eating a meal and i have to sit down while taking a shower. My neuropathy seems to be getting worse still so maybe i’ll ask the doctor if there’s anything i can take to help.
            I am 35 and i just feel like my body should endure this better. However, I’m alive, treatment still working great and only 2 more rounds of chemo to go! (Oof sorry about this long account but i think i needed some venting lol) My best wishes to everyone, love from Portugal

        2. Wow. I have a large 3.5 tumor that has grown much larger in the 6 weeks it’s taken to get all the test results in and to the oncologist. Your story gives me hope. Were you triple negative? How are you now?

  16. I’m so happy to have stumbled onto your blog! I just had my 2nd A/C infusion 3 days ago. I’m very thankful for the Neulasta onpro! The nausea is constant but I’m trying different things for it. My biggest problem was the ungodly migraine from the Cytoxan drip being too fast so we slowed it down to 2hr instead of 1hr. My hair is falling out like gangbusters but I have scarves and such waiting in the wings. This is my ,2nd round with B.C. first being 5 yrs ago with DCIS non invasive, 2 lumpectomies, years of tamoxifen and arimidex plus radiation and it still came back as invasive ductal carcinoma with Paget’s and features of inflammatory breast cancer.( Which staged me at a 3). To say I’m scared is an obvious feeling. After my A/C, I’ll have Taxol for 4 cycles ( biweekly so longer sessions) followed by bilateral mastectomy. Reconstruction to follow. Surgeries don’t scare me. These treatments however….

    1. Hey Heidi,

      Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so sorry to hear about all of the issues you have faced with breast cancer. You seem to have a really positive attitude though. I agree that surgeries are WAY less scary than chemo. A/C chemo is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, and my heart goes out to anyone having to experience it. It sounds like you are about halfway through, so hopefully Taxol will be much easier for you. I wish you all the best in your treatment and recovery!

    2. Hello, I am starting my chemo on Thursday and YES I AM PETRIFIED!!!!! I was wondering which nausea medication they had to switch for you? I pray every night that I will get through these four sessions and the last 12 will be a lot better.

      1. Hi Michele,

        Ugh I’m so sorry to hear that you have to go through chemo. I know the feeling of being petrified! Once it is over, you will kind of be happy you did it though. It made me feel like I was actively fighting the cancer. I can’t remember the exact nausea medication I used since it’s been so long, but Zofran and Phenergan do sound familiar. I wish you all the best as you tackle AC chemo. You can do this! Hopefully Taxol will be much easier for you too!

    3. Heidi,

      i am so sorry your BC came back. I just finished 12 weeks of Taxol and will start 4 cycles of AC/Neulasta next week. Neuropathy and fatigue have been my biggest issue so far in addition to two blood clots and a swollen arm on my port side. Now I am very nervous for AC. If u had to do it again would you have done the masectomy up front instead of the lumpectomy etc? I was planning on the lumpectomy and a reduction both sides, but I can’t get this phrase out of my head “your breasts have tried to kill you once” (two doctors have said this) and yes, I don’t want them to try again! So now I am thinking mastectomy and reconstruction. I don’t ever want to do chemo again! I would appreciate your take and everyone’s advice on this. Thanks you

    4. I was diagnosed with triple neg breast cancer in July and started chemo the end of August. First two infusions I was pretty sick but I learned to tolerate the medicine (Taxol) and actually felt pretty good for most of the time except for a bout of pneumonia in October.

      Had my first Red Devil infusion this past week and I feel absolutely horrible. My mouth and gums are sore, I’m nauseous all the time, my legs hurt so bad that I have to walk with a cane. I’m on day four post Red Devil and the side effects are not letting up. And I have a horrible case of constipation.

      I am so tired. Just exhausted mentally, emotionally, physically. Seems like the only time I feel good is when I’m asleep.

  17. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am looking to start the Red Devil with Cytoxan every two weeks for four cycles and followed by 12 weekly cycles of Taxol. I have stage 2b aggressive breast cancer with 1 lymph node involvement. I have been told my cancer will return and spread also. I originally thought the hair loss would be my hurdle but quickly realized it would be nausea. I get nauseated just riding in the car. It sounds like the key is communicating with the nurse for effective an effective medicine that works. I do worry that my body is strong enough to get through the treatment. I have two questions. Did you get mouth sores and did you use ice on your hands and feet to prevent neuropathy?

    I’m glad you made it through treatment. You are a positive inspiration. Thank you.

    1. Hey Melissa,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Chemo is rough, but just stay in constant communication with your nurse. My oncology nurse told me her goal was zero side effects. She was great about trying to fix any tiny side effect I was feeling. Just remember that they can change your nausea meds so don’t suffer if they aren’t working for you. To answer your questions, yes I did experience mouth sores. I attempted to chew ice when they added the AC to my IV; however, I wasn’t as diligent about it as I should have been. My first mouth sore felt like a swollen bump on the tip of my tongue. I called my nurse right away and she prescribed a mouth wash treatment. Each time I found an additional mouth sore, I just gargled with the prescription and it went away. So, I found mouth sores to be easily managed. As far as neuropathy, I did use ice on my hands and feet during Taxol. This seemed to work as I never had any issues with neuropathy. Thank you for reaching out and I wish you all the best in your treatment.

    2. Hi Melissa, my name is Krista. I was diagnosed with breast cancer January 28th. I was also diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and it’s aggressive as well. I also have the BRCA 2 gene so I will be getting a double mastectomy after I finish my chemo treatments. I’m currently going through the same chemo treatment plan as the one you mentioned. I had my first chemo treatment February 12th. A week later I started getting blisters all over my tongue and the inside of my lips. In less than 12 hours my mouth was covered in blisters. It was rough. The mouth wash the doctors prescribed me didn’t help. So they pushed back my second treatment by a week to give my mouth more time to heal. I’m scheduled for my second treatment tomorrow morning. Anyways, it sounds like we are going through a lot of the same stuff. I hope your treatments are going well and that you are doing well during this phase of the battle.

  18. Hi Folks, On neuropathy.. ice ice baby. I think it really hits with taxol, not there yet, but I bring in my frozen broccoli covering hands and feet and chewing ice (prevents mouth sores). Nurses get annoyed refilling ice for a/c treatments, but I dont fret. Also I drink tons of H20 before and during. So what if I go to the bathroom 3 xs during my treatment. Focusing on icing, I dont have time for much else, (no magazines or books) but it is worth it. For Taxol, nurses promised they bring me ice. In case yours do not, bring on the frozen peas and broccoli

    1. Hi Jackie,

      So true! Ice is such a big helper when going through chemo treatments. I used ice packets religiously on my hands and feet with Taxol. Like you, I chewed on ice chips during AC chemo to prevent mouth sores. It really helped! Thanks so much for sharing these great tips!

      1. thank you so much for sharing your experience! so when they placed the port, it wasn’t painful at all? my mom just had the surgery a little less than a week ago and she still feels pain, but she’s supposed to start chemo tomorrow, so she’s a little scared. have you heard of this procedure being painful?

        1. Hi Margarita,

          Thank you for reaching out. My port was a bit painful after it was placed, but I had just had a bilateral mastectomy. So, I think in relation to that major surgery, the port placement wasn’t so bad. Your mom can tell the nurses about her pain, and they should be able to tell her if it is normal or not. I remember the port area feeling really tender. I also would get this feeling like it was tearing or pulling something behind it. Almost like it was stitched in and the stitch was going to rip. This sensation lasted for months and maybe even a year. My doctors assured me it was normal. Like your mom, I started chemo while I was still healing for the port surgery. In fact, the nurses pulled off my post-surgery bandages right before I started my infusion. It was really uncomfortable, but you eventually get used to it. I will be thinking of your mom today and hope everything goes well for her.

          1. I’ve had one round of 4 ac. Been suffering with intense throat pain since day 4 which eventually made me go to A&E where they gave me a steroid shot which really helped. 2 days later the pain is back even though I’m taking steroids and doing all the gargling and taking painkillers. My next chemo is in 6 days and I’m dreading it. Any other throat problems out there?

          2. Hi Margaret,

            I’m so sorry to hear about your throat pain. I did not experience this with AC, but hopefully someone reading this will be able to provide some insight. The only tip I have would be to drink TONS of water, but I’m sure your doctors have already told you that. I hope they are able to relieve the pain for you and that your next session goes well! Again, so sorry you are having to go through that.

  19. Finished round three of A/C. Took family pictures the day before round 2 (just before going into complete hair loss). Hair hurt like the ponytail you describe. Did a 1 1/2″ shave so have patchy head but not bald (nervous about cutting scalp). Freaked out at first, but now like it. IT is liberating. I have ordered a couple of rounds of TLC headscarves, chemo beanies etc. the bamboo cotton the best and gotten a couple of basic wigs (one from a friend). I walk around without hair mostly at home but feel liberated with throwing on a cap with hair and wigs for my webex work calls. , and yes took a while for baby (age 2) to get it. Son (4.5) understood no more hair book for kids – and we talk about how AC treatment knocks out good and bad guys (we demonstrate with batman on his bike knocking over superman and mr. incredible as well as the bad guys (C) as indicated by orange little cones and how when my targeted treatment comes in, only the bad guys will suffer as superman, batman and mr, incredible will team up together to get the remaining bad guys. baby girl upsest could not brush hair and stared meanly at my scalp (ps they both saw mommy got her head shaved, been very transparent with them). Think having young ones keeps me from fretting to much and moving forward. PS shared headcoverings and wigs with friends on a zoom call, made it kind of fun to have a laugh.. This is a serious thing, but I feel my reaction has empowered me and others. Always telling folks to put themselves first on breast health. PS neulasta gave me extra energy the first coupe of days.

    1. Hey Jackie,
      Thanks for sharing more of your experience! Congratulations on finishing round three of AC chemo! You’re almost there! I’m so sorry you are going through all of this with two small kids at home. You are right that they keep you busy, though, which helps keep your mind off of negative thoughts. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your tips. Best wishes to you and your family!

  20. Hi! I went through this same scenario in 2014. I started having panic attacks toward the end. You WILL get through everything…FYI if you have neuropathy, accupuncture works really well!

    Sending you hugs and love.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks so much for commenting. Luckily I have not had any issues with neuropathy since finishing chemo. That’s great to know that acupuncture helps though! Thanks again for sharing. I hope you are continuing to do well!

  21. I had practically NO nausea from red devil but felt like my internal organs were being put through a sausage grinder; extreme pain, being cut up while still alive. Oncologist PA refused pain medication. I had to go to my regular GP for help on pain medication to get me through the worst part. After 3 sessions, the rest of the treatments were a breeze (except for baldness and fatigue)

    1. Hi Boggie,
      When I started to read your comment, I almost responded with how lucky you are not to have had to deal with nausea. Then I read the rest of your sentence, and your experience sounds horrific! It’s so crazy how chemo treatments affect people differently. I’m glad you were finally able to manage your pain and that you got through the rest of treatment. I hope you are feeling much better!!! Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  22. I am so happy to have found your post – thank you for writing it! I have been so nervous about starting chemo, and especially worried about how I will feel. It is good to read someone’s real life experience, even though I know everyone can be affected differently.
    I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer one week ago, and will be starting the AC chemo next week on Wednesday. I go every other week for 4 weeks, and then taxol every week for 12 weeks. Surgery will be some time after chemo is over.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thank you for sharing! I hope your chemo treatments are going well and that you are experiencing little side effects. Taxol was much easier for me so just hang in there through AC chemo. Best of luck to you as you finish treatment and recover from surgery. Stay strong!

    2. Same here ! But I started with TAXOL 12 weeks and now I need to begin on the AC……and I’m scared. Afraid of being sick. Of the naussea.
      It’s good to read the different story’s and it gives me some hope. But I’ll be glad when it’s marche and the cure is over.
      And then I will have surgery. Amputation.
      It’s a hard to deal with but it gives me hope that you all got trough. Than I will be also able to do it.
      Thanks everybody and stay safe !
      (Sorry, Englisch is not my native language)

      1. Hey Nancy,

        Thanks so much for commenting. I think we can all relate with you in just wanting chemo to be over. Hopefully your side effects won’t be too bad, and you’ll be feeling better soon. Best wishes to you as you complete treatments, and I hope your surgery goes well!

  23. Hi Shari,
    I just ran across this blog and thank you very much for writing it. I am starting this regimen on Tuesday and thought I knew what to expect. However, your explanation is just what I needed to read to know first hand experience. One main difference is that I’m 71 years old, so I hope I do as well as you did. It is a scary process so any help will be put to good use. Good luck in your continued progress.

    1. Hey Janna,

      Thank you for sharing! I hope your treatment goes well and that your side effects are minimal. Best wishes!

  24. I just finished round 2 of TAC…..round 1 was awful, and I landed in the ER on day 6 due to fever/chill and my white blood counts were 1200 vs the 6000-10000 they should be. (Yes, I had Lunasta) Spent 4 days there. My Oncologist said the 1st infusion was the worst; they have to see how you react before they can address your side effects. She put several changes in place, and this round has been tolerable. I am at day 11, and have managed to avoid the ER/Hospital, with the worst side effects this time being bone pain and night sweats. I have 4 more to go, then some type of surgery. BTW, I have ILC, stage 2A, not spread, and my mass is/was 5.5 cm. Hoping the CHEMO reduces it to a size that can be addressed with a lumpectomy vs mastectomy. Prayers for all cancer survivors…

    1. Hi Glenda,

      Oh my goodness that sounds terrible! I hope you have had better reactions with your remaining chemotherapy! Good luck to you in your treatment journey and stay healthy during these crazy times! Thanks for commenting!

  25. I had A/C treatment following modified radical mastectomy on my right, much as you described, back in 1994 when I was first diagnosed. An unrelated tumor in my left breast required the same treatment in 1997. I was lucky that the nausea was not as bad as I expected, after one adjustment to my anti-nausea meds. I didn’t have a problem coping with the hair loss, as I have worn my hair short for ages. It was actually quite liberating. I’ve been NED since 1998, and celebrate every day like the give that it is. Thank you for writing this post – you have a great attitude and that will get you far. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we have total control over how we choose to react. Good health and happiness to you!

    1. Pearl,

      Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I’m so happy to hear that you are doing well. It really helps to hear positive stories like yours. You are an inspiration to us all, and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to comment. Your words of encouragement made my day! Best wishes to you!

  26. Just had my medical oncology consult today and although I had zero issues with a double mastectomy I am having major issues with losing my hair. I somehow stumbled upon you blog and I am so glad I did! I also have young girls (4 and 2) and I am very concerned with how they will handle all of this.

    I start AC Chemo within the next 3 weeks and then will move on to Taxol.

    Thank you for sharing your story; just reading other young moms stories is inspiring.

    1. Hi Tara,

      Wow you are almost exactly a year behind me. I had my first AC chemo on October 30 of last year. It was tough (especially with two little kids), but you can do it! I hope you have a good support system to help you out with your girls. The good thing about having small kids while you go through this is that they keep you busy so you have less time to dwell on your diagnosis. Like you, I was way more concerned with losing my hair than my breasts. I felt a HUGE relief once I shaved it though. The waiting for it to fall out was the worst; but, once it was done, it was done. Thank you for reaching out and best of luck with your treatments.

    1. Hi Haley,
      I hope you are doing well with Taxol and its side effects. A friend of mine did Adriamycin and Cytoxan Chemo every other week like you have planned. The good thing about that is you are finished sooner! Thanks for reading and stay strong!

  27. My friend/coworker just started this exact chemo regimen. I’m hoping that she tolerates the A/C treatment well 🙏🏼 Hers is going to be delivered every 2 weeks however, and she has to return to the office for an immune booster injection every day I’m not too sure why she wasn’t a candidate for Neulasta. I do have a question for you…What anti nausea meds were you given that worked better for you?
    Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is very helpful. I hope you are doing better. I also am living with breast cancer. But my treatment is not intense like yours and my friends. I am on a pill form of Chemotherapy. But cancer is cancer and all we have is Hope and Faith to get us through our journey. 🙏🏼💕

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I’m so sorry that you and your friend are on this journey too. Cancer is cancer and I’m sure you have your own side effects of the chemo pill. It’s not fun for anyone.

      I’m not sure why some people are candidates for Neulasta and others are not. It certainly was nice to receive the injection at home rather than traveling back to the hospital.

      I cannot remember the name of the anti-nausea medication the nurse ended up prescribing me. I do remember that the pharmacist told me it was an anxiety medication though. After a bit more research, he realized that it was also used for nausea. Not sure if that helps or not.

      Hopefully your friend will feel ok with the nausea meds her doctors prescribe. If she is extremely sick, though, make sure she calls her doctor. I tried to tough it out for three days thinking it would get better and that it was normal. My oncology nurse wasn’t happy with me doing that and said I should have called after 24 hours of being so sick.

      Thank you for reaching out, and best wishes to both you and your friend!

      1. Shari,
        I am starting my treatment AC next week. Did you consider doing cold capping? How effective is it? What about eyebrows do they fall out and did you do microblading or filled it in?


        1. Hi Heta,

          I did consider doing cold capping, but I ultimately decided against it. It wasn’t that common at the place I was treated, so the cost and the difficulty of getting the materials turned me off from it. Also, I was often chilly and uncomfortable at chemo, so I think cold capping would have made the chemo experience worse. That being said, once I finished chemo and realized how long the hair growth process would take, I did have some regrets about not cold capping. Maybe another reader will have more experience with this than me and respond with a more helpful answer. My eyebrows and eyelashes stayed intact with AC chemo. They didn’t completely fall out until I finished Taxol. Even then, they were only fully gone for a couple of weeks. I did not do microblading but just filled them in the best I could. Best wishes to you as you start chemo!

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