- sleep can prove elusive when you’re going through breast cancer. From worry-induced insomnia, to disruptions in your normal routine, to menopausal side effects, there are many reasons you might be lying awake staring into the dark at 2 a.m. Looking for solutions to sleeplessness? Check out our five-part series detailing sleep issues and breast cancer.
Why can’t I sleep?
While one-quarter of African report having sleep issues, studies show that up to 90% of cancer patients in active treatment have trouble sleeping. And for some, that sleeplessness ultimately stretches way beyond the end of treatment.
The shock of a breast cancer diagnosis, the disruption of your life, getting through and beyond treatment, the strain of relationships at home and at work, financial stress, and less physical activity all can contribute to weight gain or loss during treatment. While it’s more common for people to gain weight during and after treatment, some people lose weight.
Gaining or losing a few pounds is normal, but a considerable weight change — say 5% to 10% of your total body weight — could have an effect on your health.
Breast cancer treatments that are associated with weight gain or loss:
Before starting treatment
You’ll have your first consultation with your medical oncologist (cancer doctor) and any needed follow-up visits. The oncologist will:
- take your medical history, do a physical exam, and review all your lab tests, mammography films, and biopsy results
- make a recommendation about which chemotherapy regimens would be best for you
- explain the benefits and side effects of each recommended chemotherapy regimen
- carefully review the treatment consent form with you and have you sign it
- schedule your first treatment appointment (the timing depends on your unique situation)
On the day of treatment
On the day you get chemotherapy,
You can receive chemotherapy in a hospital, a doctor’s office, or a clinic. Chemotherapy can also be taken at home if you have a portable pump or are taking your chemo medicine as a pill. Most people are able to go home between treatments. In some cases, you may have to stay in the hospital so your doctor can monitor your health, especially if your immune system isn’t working as well as it should (doctors call this a suppressed immune system) right after your treatment. When you decide on a chemotherapy regimen, your doctor will tell you where you’ll be getting your treatment.
Chemotherapy medicines come in many forms and can be given in many ways:
Intravenously (IV) as a slow drip (also called an infusion) through a thin needle in a vein in your hand or lower arm. The nurse will put the needle in when each infusion begins and take it out when the infusion is done. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you feel any pain or burning while you’re getting chemotherapy through an IV infusion.
Injection as a single shot into a muscle in your arm, leg, or hip,