O.P.C (Other People's Chemo *Routines*)
*What I really mean by this, is that one chemo routine is not like the other. Naughty by Nature had different aspirations with the song, however I am simply talking routines.
By now I have done 3 rounds of chemo. Only 5 more to go. Each round has been a little bit different than the one before it. Just when you think you have it all figured out, your body throws up a Hail Mary and you are completely thrown for a loop. Everyone who I know that has experienced chemo has their own chemo routines, everyone is different so I want to preface this whole post with that fact.
One thing that has remained pretty constant is my chemo routine. Even when I was sent home for low white blood cell counts, I would just act like I had chemo because I was pissed off. My Type A personality shines through even with chemotherapy. My therapist would undoubtedly say I am seeking some type of control in a situation in which I have none. That's all well and good, but I also just like a good old fashioned routine.
Many of you that read this blog are undergoing chemo, or have already been through it. I have been asked quite a bit what are some of the things I do to get myself prepared, and also relax. Keep in mind this isn't a one size fits all type of thing. There are so many different regimens of chemo, and some hit harder than others. I am simply just sharing with you what works for me.
The PRE-mo. (Get it? It is like Pre-Chemo?)
1. All Hail Kale- I keep a pretty healthy vegetarian diet all of the time, but the week of chemo, I try to be extra mindful. I will ensure I get plenty of protein and eat plenty of leafy greens such as kale and spinach to make sure my body is feeling ready to take on ALL DEM DRUGS.
2. First you get a swimming pool full of *water* then you dive in it- Kendrick Lamar was clearly not referencing an actual pool full of water, but seriously you need ALL OF THE WATER always, but more specifically before and after chemo. It just helps flush your body of ALL DEM DRUGS. I live and die by my S'Well bottle, and bring it to every treatment.
3. The Tiffany Dyba New Workout Plan - Kanye is clearly being a misogynist and sexualizing working out in his version of this song, however I am talking about actual working out. I have found working out throughout treatment as much as I can helps with fatigue and just makes me feel better mentally. I am not doing high intensity workouts like Barry's Bootcamp right now, but I do run and lift weights at least 3 times per week. Listen to your body, but if you feel up to it - do it!
4. The Morning of Smoothie- I actually received this tip from a trusted comrade from my cancer crew. See my girl CC Webster's blog here. Here is where I get a little TMI, but you can handle it. Chemo makes many people constipated. There I said it. So add some chia seeds and fruit to your smoothie to get things moving down there. It is also just good for you. My favorite smoothie ever is from Minimalist Baker.
5. Hip Hop Chemo- This is the point of the show where I get very specific to my coping skills in how I prep for chemo. By now, y'all have seen my Instagram follies every chemo Thursday where I keep it extra G. Believe it or not, I look forward to shooting these ridiculous videos every week. Steve and I actually talk about what songs to feature well in advance. We are a real Timberland and Missy Elliot over here. The point of this is, find something silly and fun to do before chemo that becomes "your thing." It make the day a little less intense.
6. PUPPIES!- Also known as one of my favorite cards in Cards Against Humanity, but also a big part of my Pre-mo routine. Steve and I have a pretty easy commute from here to Memorial Sloan Kettering, and it is a nice walk from the subway to the hospital. Each week, we strategically pass a dog grooming place called Biscuits and Bath to see all of the dogs in the window hanging out. It makes us smile every single time. The little things, y'all.
1. Comfort Chemo Food- I am always STARVING after chemo. I literally want every single burrito ever made. If guac was 20 million dollars extra, I would find a way to make that happen. Some folks are not hungry at all, I have been fortunate enough to not lose my appetite. Typically Stevo and I pick a good old fashioned comfort meal to order post chemo, which is typically Mexican food. I look forward to that meal after every infusion.
2. Out of Office- Working for myself really helps in this regard. One of the biggest things I have learned throughout this process is practicing better self care and listening to my body. The old Dyba would be on the couch banging out emails and taking calls after chemo. Cancer Dyba thinks that shit is for the birds. I always take the day of chemo and the day after for myself. No calls. No client meetings. Nothing. I stand firm on it too. I wake up when I want to, and let my body rest.
3. Acupuncture- Ok remember when I said I do nothing the day after chemo? I sort of lied. The one and only thing I will do without fail is go see my acupuncturist. Acupuncture is phenomenal when dealing with chemo side effects, and just makes me feel so relaxed. It is my happy place. If you are local to NYC, I go to Norva Bennett, and would highly recommend.
4. Hydration 2.0 - See above in Pre-mo. Basically you just need to drink water all of the damn time. Even if you aren't thirsty, just drink it anyway. There's really not much more I can say about this.
And there you have it, y'all. This is my chemo routine. It hasn't failed me yet. I am usually down for a few days, and then I am back at it by Sunday or Monday. Please note, you can really use this routine for anything, not just chemo. It is super versatile. Eat some kale, listen to some hip hop, look at puppies. All encompassing, yet easy to forget to take care of yourself until you really have to, isn't it?