Surviving ABVD Chemo: Tips for Coping with Treatment

ABVD is a combination chemotherapy regimen used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The name ABVD comes from the first letters of the four drugs used in the regimen:

Adriamycin - or "The Red Devil." Depending on the dosage, this orange/red drug causes nausea, hair loss, and potential heart problems. It also turns your urine orange/red.
Bleomycin - Comes out in a syringe, is transparent, and is known to cause pulmonary side effects. Some get fevers from this.
Vinblastine - Effective against cancers of the white blood cells such as lymphoma.
Dacarbazine - A drip that takes around an hour. It's most likely to make you feel sick. It also causes infertility, immune suppression, headaches, fatigue, etc.

ABVD is a highly effective treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, with a cure rate of over 80% for early-stage disease. The regimen is typically given in six cycles, with each cycle lasting four weeks. The drugs are administered intravenously (into a vein) on days 1 and 15 of each cycle.

ABVD can cause a number of side effects, including hair loss, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, decreased platelet count, increased risk of infection, and lung damage.
Tips to help you navigate ABVD chemotherapy sessions.

1.  Stay hydrated! Every time you hydrate yourself by drinking water, you are helping to eliminate toxins from your body.
2.  Ask about Prochlorperazine, a take as a needed pill for nausea and vomiting.
3.  Eating a balanced diet is the most beneficial thing you can do for your body.
4.  At times, you might question if you belong in a mental institution. You receive frequent doses of medication and steroids, which can have an impact on your mental well-being.
5.  If you find yourself forgetting things, just tell your family and friends that it's because of chemo brain.
6.  If you are having really bad side effects, make sure to talk to your doctor about it.
7.  You have options when it comes to medications for anxiety. You can use them on an as-needed basis or as a long-term solution.
8.  Seize the opportunity to exercise whenever you have the energy.
9.  It's okay to feel sleepy and rest in bed without feeling guilty. You don't have to explain why you need to sleep. 
10.  You may feel discouraged and want to quit, but it's important to keep going. Remember that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
11.  Get ready for hair loss both mentally and realistically. I recommend getting a short haircut beforehand. This way, you can feel more in charge of the hair loss by shaving it off. Accept and embrace your baldness.
12.  Ask for help. Some people want to understand your situation and offer you their assistance.
13.  Contact organizations such as the Lymphoma Society to receive assistance and support regarding financial matters.
14.  Write down your personal story. I have observed an increase in people breaking their silence and revealing their experiences with this illness and its treatment. This helps with accepting your diagnosis, and more significantly, you are joining a movement to raise awareness.
15. Maintain a light-hearted approach towards life's challenges. Although Cancer is not amusing, laughter has healing powers for the spirit.

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